3 Ways To Make Your Courage STRONGER

#Courage #stonger

Courage.  We all need it.  We all have it.  But do we really know how to access courage and use it when we need it?  

God knew we needed courage more than anything so he left 365 Bible verses, with the word courage, as a reminder for each day of the year.  

Do you know someone courageous?

That someone, no matter what the situation puts their life on line, extends their all no matter what the situation or risk?

Corrie Ten Boom and Irena Sendler, two modern-day women were the epitome of courage.  They risked their lives to save the lives of others at the cost of their own lives.  

Queen Esther risked her life to save the entire Israelite race, putting her own life at risk.  In the end when she did God worked out all the details.

Nathan the prophet risked his life boldly going before King David to call him out on his affair with Bathsheba, getting her pregnant and killing her husband to cover up his sin.  Nathan risked a lot by standing up to a king and basically saying, “You messed up and God doesn’t like it.”  Because of Nathan, David repented and God used him for his greatest plan ever—the lineage to Jesus.  

Do you ever wonder what do they have, I don’t?

Maybe our courage just needs a little more strength.  A little more grit.  That something that takes us from just showing up to practice to winning the gold medal.  

3 Ways to Make Your Courage Stronger:

1. ABIDE in the Power of Jesus’ love.  When we abide in the love of Jesus, we receive his power of no fear, because there is no fear in love.  Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4: I bet each person I mentioned above was scared to death, but the benefit outweighed the risk).    

Why?  Because they trusted in the power of God.  When we trust in what God is able to do, we take the worry and stress off of ourselves that it is up to us to get the job done.  God’s strength and power is so much greater than ours. 

Our courage becomes so much stronger when we abide and trust in God’s power of what He is able to do. Click To Tweet

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God;  if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”  God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement, because as he is so also are we in this world.”  1 John 4:11, 16-17.  

God’s love is perfected within us when we abide in him.  When we live as though our next breath is dependent upon his provision.  When we live as though God is apart of our every being.  We can live in the confidence of what God has already done because nothing the enemy does can change what God has already accomplished.  Our courage becomes stronger when we abide in Christ.  

2.  Take Risks.  Every single courageous person I know takes risks.  Courage isn’t courage without taking risks.  The one thing I have learned about taking risks, I would have never experienced the greatness God’s blessings waiting on the other side.  The path God asks us to take sometimes seems scary like we’re walking towards a fiery furnace, but I PROMISE God’s will, will never take us where His GRACE cannot protect us. 

Each step of faith we take, builds our spiritual muscles by testing our faith, refines us like pure gold and brings us closer to where God desires us to be—which makes our COURAGE STRONGER.  

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuinenesss of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes through it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”  1 Peter 1:6.  

3.  Seek Wisdom.  The closer we are to Jesus, the more wise we become.  Wise people seek Jesus.  Courageous people seek wisdom to know what they’re next steps are.  Wisdom helps us make better choices and discern God’s will, if indeed we are going in the right direction.  Those who abide in Christ, receive the power of God’s wisdom.  God’s wisdom makes our COURAGE STRONGER.  The foundation and cornerstone of our lives is based on God’s wisdom and love.  

“By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place;”  Proverbs 3:19 

Everything we do is connected to the one who created us.  God is the provider of our courage.  Without God’s courage we wouldn’t be able to do what He asks of us.  We see God’s most amazing promises revealed because of the courageous steps of faith others took in the Bible.   

  • We saw the Israelites pass through The Red Sea because they were still and didn’t flee.
  • We saw the walls of Jericho fall because the Israelites had the courage to obey and march for 7 days in the midst of their enemies.  
  • We saw David defeat the big giant Goliath with just one stone, because he had the courage no one else had.  
  • We saw what happened when 3 men had the courage to stand up to the most powerful King Nebuchadnezzar (besides Jesus) who ever existed—their lives were spared from the fiery furnace, not a hair was cinged nor did they smell like smoke.  

Making our courage strong is important in our relationship with God.  Without courage we would never witness God’s most glorious plans that could have only been accomplished through him.  Our courage helps prepare our hearts to be ready when God asks us to take steps of faith.  Will you be ready?  

'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.' Joshua 1:9Click To Tweet

What makes your courage stronger?

How has courage allowed you to fulfill God’s purpose? 

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I would love to hear from you!  Leave your comments below.  Have a Blessed Week!

Enjoy this FREE Printable Bookmark.  Click on link below to download the PDF as reminder you are Courageous!

We need to know we are not alone.


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What Were The Most Powerful Words Ever Spoken?

Do you know where the most powerful, life-changing words were spoken?  

Do you know who spoke those words?

The most powerful words are from the last dying words from a person.  They are remembered because they will never speak those words again.  

This Easter as we reflect what Jesus did for us, we can witness in Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross his prayers for us.  His last words are so telling of his undying love for us. Here are the dying last words of Jesus.

7 Powerful Words Jesus Spoke on the Cross:

1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). It amazes me even as Jesus was ridiculed, persecuted, beaten and crucified he still prayed for those who were killing him. He even forgave one of the men on the cross who was sentenced with him. Even in Jesus death he prayed for us and still had the power to make people right with God and cared about their salvation.

2. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV). These are the words Jesus said to one of the criminals sentenced with him after the criminal said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Can you even imagine hanging on the cross suffering and Jesus says these words to you, promising you will be in paradise today and you will be with Jesus? This signifies this paradise is something that  only Jesus brings not the world.

3. “Dear Woman, here is your son” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother” (John 19:26-27 NIV). Jesus was saying this to his mother Mary, even in Jesus’ last hours of life he honored his mother by asking John, his disciple to take care of her.

Could you even imagine being in Mary’s shoes watching her child suffer, hanging on the cross, knowing he was going to die?Click To Tweet

Jesus wanted to make sure his mother would be taken care of and entrusted his beloved disciple John to do this.

4. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means “My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). This is the fourth saying Jesus says in both Aramaic and Hebrew, from the cross. Prior to this, Jesus had fallen silent for 3 hours after the darkness came. This is the first thing he said after the darkness left. In the 3 hours of darkness is where Jesus felt the wrath and separation from God for the first time.

This statement shows his vulnerability as a human and reveals his feeling of abandonment from God. I think this saying shows how heavy bearing the sins of all of mankind was and therefore cries out to God for help. This shows us we should cry out to God also when we too bear much suffering.

5. “I am thirsty” (John 19:28 NIV). This is so interesting how Jesus asks for water considering he taught his disciples and followers many times that he was the living water, that whoever drinks of the water will never thirst again and have eternal life (John 4:14). It is striking how the one who is the water of life is dying in thirst. I think this shows Jesus craving for his physical comfort to be refreshed with a drink of water.

Jesus not only desired for his physical thirst to be satisfied but his spiritual thirst as well. In scorn, the soldiers dipped a sponge filled with vinegar on the end of a hyssop plant to give Jesus a bitter taste in his mouth. You and I today can ‘give Jesus a drink’ by sharing what we have with those in need by feeding the hungry and giving water to the thirsty (Matthew 25:34-40). Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 383). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

6. “It is finished” (John 19:30 NIV). This statement marks one of the last things Jesus says before he dies. It signifies he completed what he came to this earth to do, to die for our sins. He says the Greek word ‘tetelestai’ which means ‘paid in full.’ Jesus didn’t say ‘I am finished,’ he said ‘It is finished,’ meaning his redemptive work was complete. “It is finished,” is a declaration of Victory! Jesus became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He suffered the penalty we deserved. Even up to the moment of his death, Jesus remained the one who gave his life for us (John 10:11, 14,17-18). Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 340). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

7. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46 NIV). This is the seventh and last statement Jesus says before he bowed his head and took his last breath. Jesus died for us. He offered his body and soul, not for himself, but for us. Jesus did not die as a martyr, but as a Victor, because he completed what he came to do. All of the suffering Jesus went through, his death was not for nothing.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” is actually a bedtime prayer used by Jewish children. It tells us how our Lord died: confidently, willingly and victoriously (John 10:17-18).

It is a prayer of commitment to God before taking his last breath. Those who know Jesus as their Saviour may also die with the same confidence and assurance, that Jesus did (2 Cor. 5:1–8; Phil. 1:20–23). Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 276). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Wow! I can’t even believe all that Jesus was teaching us even in his suffering on the cross and very last hours of his life. It shows me how important prayer is in our lives. Praying is what Jesus was doing up until the last breath he took. He not only was showing us his love by enduring suffering and death in which we deserved, but praying on our behalf asking for our forgiveness.

He comforted the criminal who was suffering telling him about God’s promise of paradise. He honored his mother. He cried out to God for help. He showed his desire to have his thirst quenched both physically and spiritually. Jesus remained faithful even in his suffering. He showed us that God is always with us, he never leaves or forsakes us.

This Easter, we can partake and participate in the victory of Jesus as his gift to us.

What do Jesus’ last words mean to you?

What are the most powerful words you ever heard spoken?

We don’t have to be perfect to accept this gift, have it all together or be someone great. God’s gift of eternal life he offers to everyone, no matter who we are, who we were or who we will be. Opening and receiving God’s gift of eternal life, is the best gift anyone could ever receive this Easter.

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below. Have a blessed and Happy Easter!

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I pray the God of hope will fill you with Peace as you Trust in Him!  Have a Blessed week!  I would love to hear from you!  Leave Comments Below.  Happy Easter!


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The Second Chance That Saved My Life

The Second Chance That Saved My Life

Are you getting ready for Easter?  I love this time of year, for what it represents and the rich gifts that God gives us even when we don’t deserve them.

Have you ever been a second chance that saved your life?  

God has given me so many second chances I didn’t even deserve.  I’m so thankful for second chances and wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

One man in the Bible reminds me of a second chance that saved his life.   His name was Barabbas and he was a criminal convicted of committing murder in a rebellion (Mark 15:7).

It was during the time of Passover and every year the Roman governor would release a prisoner to the people of their choice (Matt. 27:15).  Jesus had been arrested and was in custody of Roman authorities.  Barabbas was a well-known prisoner among the people.  When Pilate asked, “Whom do you want me to release to you?  Barabbas or Jesus, the people knew exactly who each one was.

Pilate was convicted that he was persecuting an innocent man because Jesus wasn’t guilty of any crime under Roman law.  Jesus couldn’t be prosecuted under Jewish law during Passover because the Jews couldn’t crucify anyone during that time.  So Jesus was to be prosecuted under Roman Law.

When both men were in the judgment seat, Pilate’s wife tells her husband “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man (Jesus) for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”  (Matt. 27:19).

But the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed (Matt. 27:20).  When Pilate asked, which one do you want me to release?  The crowd shouted, Barabbas! Then Pilate asked, what should I do with Jesus?  The crowd shouted, “Crucify Him!”  Pilate then questions their decision and asks, why, what crime has he committed?  They shouted even louder, Crucify Him!  (Matt.21-23).

Pilate felt so guilty about the outcome he took water and washed his hands before the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood” (Matt 27:24).  “Then he released Barabbas to them” (Matt. 27:26).

Can you even imagine this scene?  A prisoner who committed murder being set free!  And Jesus a man who committed no crime under Roman law sent to be crucified!?!?!

I can’t imagine what Barabbas was thinking, I was just set free!  He merely received his freedom by default all because the crowd wanted to persecute Jesus.  I can’t help to think of the parallels in Barabbas’ story.  He was a man guilty of a crime and set free.  He was given a second chance at freedom something he didn’t even deserve!

Barabbas being set free and Jesus taking his place on the cross was a foreshadowing of our future story of what Jesus was going to accomplish for us.  Barabbas’ name actually means “Son of Abba” or father.  How coincidental the meaning of the criminal’s name who was released is the very thing that Jesus is to us, “Son of God,” our Father.

I wonder what Barabbas’s life was like after he was released.  I wonder if he was thankful for his second chance at freedom or if he just reverted back to his old criminal habits?  If I were Barabbas I would have been convicted of the new freedom granted to me.

Jesus someone who was innocent and didn't deserve to die took our place for us instead. Click To Tweet

I wonder if Barabbas was at Jesus’ crucifixion, standing at the cross thinking, this man saved my life and set me free (in more ways than we could ever imagine).  I wonder if Barabbas looked at Jesus on the cross and thought, he took my place, that could have been me.  

This whole scene sounds barbaric with the crowd yelling, “Crucify Him!”  In the end, we can point fingers about who was to blame for the death of Jesus.  In reality, it was all apart of God’s plan for us to be set free and forgiven. The only way for us to receive this amazing gift, was for God to sacrifice His only Son for us.

'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.' John 3:16Click To Tweet

Barabbas’s story is a physical representation of what God does for us every day.  How he extends us His mercy and grace, even when we don’t deserve it.  We are all criminals (sinners)  just like Barabbas.  I once was lost but now I’m found.  God’s second chance of mercy and grace has saved and changed my life forever.

We are all given a second chance at freedom, just like Barabbas.  

Have you ever been given a second chance that saved your life?  Please Share!

The second chance God has given me has changed my life forever.

You have been set free.  What an amazing and wonderful gift!  Happy Easter!

Prayer–Lord, Set me Free from my burdens and the things I cannot control.  Set me free from anything weighing me down not allowing me to live how you designed me to live, in freedom.  I love you and praise you, God.  I thank you, God, for sending Jesus to take my place even when I didn’t deserve it.  Thank you for giving second chances. Forgive me of my sins.  You have set me free, Lord.  Thank you, in Jesus name.  Amen

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I would love to hear from you!  Leave Your Comments Below.  I pray your week is filled with God’s abundant freedom!  ​In Him,


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3 Ways To Pray For Your Family With Confidence

3 Ways to Pray For Your Family With Confidence

If you are apart of a family most likely you know where they are.  Nowadays there are apps to locate loved ones or smart homes to let you know when they arrive home.  I am one that is not so technologically advanced and  have to rely on my kids or youtube to help me with certain tasks on the phone.

One app our family downloaded, is the Life 360 app which can tell me the exact location of my family.  I simply click on the app and pictures of my family pop up on the map of where they are located.  The app comes in handy when I’m  at work and it’s not my day to carpool.  I know when the kids arrive at school because the app alerts me, they arrived!  The app also tells me how much battery life each family member’s phone has to let me know if their phone is about to die in case I’m not able to get ahold of them.

Isn’t it nice to know the location of your family and they are safe?

Knowing the location of our families isn’t just important in the physical sense, knowing where they are spiritually is just as important.  We need to keep track, so we where they are and if they are safe.

3 Ways to Pray for Your Family With CONFIDENCE:

1.  Know Where They Are.  Can you confidently say 100% my loved one is going to heaven?  This is one of the most important questions to ask yet we shy away from it, why?  Because we’re afraid we might hurt feelings or don’t want to offend anyone?  Not asking you’re loved one where they are spiritually is a greater loss than asking them–Do they believe?  Knowing where they are spiritually can give you a better idea of how to pray for them.  Pray for opportunities to share Jesus in a non-confrontational way, pray for doors to be opened for you or others to speak truth and grace into their lives, for them to receive the love of Jesus.
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:2-4
2.  Know Where They Are Going.  More than anything I want to confidently say all MY Family is going to heaven.  More than anything I want to say I will see them there one day.  In the above verses, Jesus is speaking to Thomas and at this point he’s confused and asks Jesus, “We don’t know where you are going.  How can we know the way?” (John 14:5 ESV).  Jesus then responds………..

Do you know where your family is going?

Praying for our family’s eternal salvation is one of the most important life changing prayers we can pray.  I have been praying for family members my whole life that one day they will accept Jesus and go to heaven.  Don’t give up, keep praying you never know how God will work.
3.  Know Where They’ve Been.  I’m not talking about in a creepy stalker way, I’m saying in a loving concerned way.  Can you say with confidence I know where my kids/family have been, what they’re doing, who they’ve been hanging out with?  Can you confidently say I know what they’ve been exposed to, for how long and if they are in safe situations?  We all slip up and make mistakes.  But allowing consistent patterns of losing track of where they are can create new paths of not knowing where they will be going.
We want to train up our children to be the ones that transform the world not be transformed by the world.  Pray you will stay alert, ask the right questions, that you’re loved one will open up to you and be honest.  Pray for opportunities to have good/hard conversations.  Pray you will have the right words to say and your loved one will be open to listen.
And above all seek wisdom and obedience.  A surrendered heart accepts the will of God better than any disobedient heart.
More than anything, I want to confidently say my family is safe and I know where they are going.  If you haven’t had that conversation with your loved, ask yourself why not?  What’s holding you back from asking?
God has planned a place for us.  He has planned a way for us to get there–through Jesus.  And He plans to come back to get us.  Will you and you’re family be ready?

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure”  (Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT).  

When we believe in Jesus and accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we are all apart of one big family.  How amazing will it be when we are reunited again with our loved ones?  How amazing will it be to know we are all in the same place?

Just as our phones can’t operate without being charged our physical lives can’t operate without sleep and nourishment, as our spiritual lives can’t survive without a relationship with God.  Staying in prayer, staying in His word, not only gives us the spiritual strength we need but also transforms our hearts and lives.  There is a Bible app that can help refill our spiritual lives that has lots of info of the place God has prepared for us.

We don’t have to have it all together to follow Jesus, in fact Jesus loves broken people.  He loves everyone no matter who they are.  When Jesus comes back he’s not going to ask us, “Do you believe everything the Bible says?”  He’s going to ask, “Do you believe I sent my son to die for you?”

If you are a believer, you become my sister or brother in Christ.  Nothing brings me more joy than to know my brothers and sisters are going to heaven.  We become apart of the same lineage, adopted into the same family.  If you’re struggling, it’s okay to wrestle with God and question why?  I promise you He has the answer to your pain, your heartache and struggle–His love.  God loves you more than anything.

Do you believe?

Can you confidently say all my family is going to heaven?  If not start praying with confidence!

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The One I Admire Most (Leaders Worth Following)

President’s Day has passed and I’m reflecting on a very important question that our country’s foundation is based upon, many of us may think of but may take a passive approach in answering.

What leader do you admire most?

Who is a leader you esteem worth following?

I finished reading the book “How to Lead When Not in Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority,” by Clay Scoggins.  This book has changed my way of thinking of what it means to be the authority verses being a person of influence.  He identifies what separates a good leader from a great one.

Great leaders love people well.

Great leaders live and lead in a way that’s worth emulating.

Great leaders are lifetime learners.

Great leaders make others feel valued and appreciated.

Great leaders forgive well.

Great leaders lead by action.

Great leaders sacrifice themselves for the good of others.

Great leaders admit their failures.

What do think makes a great leader?

Clay Scoggins challenges us to write down leaders we admire and dissect why do we admire them?

Just to name a few of my favorite leaders Abraham Lincoln, Francis Chan, Corrie Ten Boom, Irena Sendler, and of course Jesus.  I admire all of these leaders for different reasons.

I admire Abraham Lincoln because he was a leader who led by action, admitted his failures and was a lifetime learner.  He defended the defenseless, stood up for social injustice by not following the way the world wanted him to but lead in the direction that was for the greater good of others.

I admire Francis Chan as a leader because he loves others well, lives and leads in a way worth emulating.  Francis Chan’s mission in life is to lead like Jesus.  He doesn’t chase fame or power but the influence of Jesus.

Corrie Ten Boom and Irena Sendler are women after my own heart.  I aspire to be like them.  Corrie and her family hid hundreds of Jews in a secret hiding place in their home to save them from going to concentration camps. Irena saved over two thousand Jewish babies from Nazi death camps.  Both women sacrificed themselves for the good of others, putting others before themselves, which in the end saved the lives of many (Gen. 50:20).

Although all these leaders are great, the one I admire most is Jesus.

Jesus is the ultimate leader.  A leader we all strive to be like.  He changed the trajectory of how leaders should lead not by the words he said, not by throwing around His titles, but by what He did.  Titles such as Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father made Him the highest authority of all.   However, Jesus didn’t use His titles of authority to transform the hearts of people, He used the influence of His mercy and grace.  His role as Humble Servant, Shepherd and Teacher won more hearts than His authority ever did.  He didn’t leverage how much He knew, he leveraged how much we can learn.

'Being a great leader isn't dependent upon having more authority. Great leadership depends upon influence. The more influence cultivated today the more you'll have tomorrow' quote Clay Scoggins.Click To Tweet

Great leaders don’t throw around their clout, beat their chests and say, “I’m in charge!”  They use their influence in a way that inspires others to say, “I want to live and lead like them!”

We don’t have to wait until we’re in a position of authority to make a difference, our time to make a difference is today.  We were all created to be a leader in one or another.  Whatever your role is as a teacher, a parent, a coach, a musician, a caretaker, an administrator or a janitor we all have our roles in God’s greater kingdom.  How we lead here on earth prepares us for our day in heaven.

In order for us to have a chance at being a loving culture, to make a difference where we are, we must emulate the best leader of all.  It starts right here, right now, with US.  I pray and hope we all can live and lead like Jesus.  Be encouraged God isn’t done with us and desires us to live in the best design of ourselves.  You are loved!

Who do you admire most and why?

What leaders do you think are worth following?

How do you leverage your influence when you’re not in charge?

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The Top 3 Most Powerful Influences In Our Life

 

Influence (Noun)-  the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others:

We are all under the influence of something.  Cops use this phrase all the time, he was driving under the influence.  Now there are breathalyzers and blood tests to measure someone’s blood alcohol level.  When a person comes into the ER they tell us “I only had 2 drinks,” but the results of their blood tests, tells the real story.

In 2016 over 10,000 people in Colorado were arrested for DUI’s.  Being under the influence of alcohol clouds judgement and allows not good choices to impact the future.  Being under the influence, influences them in ways they would normally not be influenced.

'Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you; instead, be filled with the Spirit.' Ephesians 5:18Click To Tweet

I don’t know if you’ve come across this verse before.  But I always found it odd how the Holy Spirit is compared to wine.  Looking closer I see why.  Being intoxicated on wine ruins our judgement controlling our minds.  Paul is trying to express to the Ephesians be filled with the Holy Spirit instead which leads to self-control.  Sounds boring right?  In reality we receive so much more in our self-control.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit isn’t just a one time filling but a regular pattern of life.

What Really Influences Us?

FRIENDS.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been influenced by my friends when I was growing up.  Somewhere along the way I valued what my friends thought more than what God thought.  I fell to peer pressure over and over again, reaping the consequences every time.  We are who we hang out with.  If we hang out with others who curse chances are we’ll start cursing.  If we hang out with others who (fill in the blank)  ______________________ chances are we will start doing what they are doing.  We are influenced by those in our inner circle.

“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”  1 Corinthians 15:33

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs  13:20

THE WORLD.  “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2
There have been so many times I’ve been intoxicated on worldly treasures.  I made them more than God.  I pursued worldly treasures instead of what God desired for me.
How often are we lured away by everything the world has to offer?  We form little g, gods we bow down to allowing them to rule us.  We chase dangling carrots, empty promises of being rich, false images that fall apart don’t last–all for what?  This year I want to ask myself, what influences me?  Following the world or Jesus?
POSITIVITY.  “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1.  I admit I have gotten into bad patterns of negativity at times.  I’ve allowed negativity to encroach my thoughts and spill out into my actions.  How much more are you impacted when someone responds in love?  When a person could have chosen to get angry and yell, but instead chose to speak love.
JESUS.  His influence changed the hearts and lives of the world while he was on this earth and still impacts us even after he’s gone.  The legacy of love, kindness, compassion, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, joy and patience is insurmountable.
I’d like to say church influences us.  But really many of us, me included, for years have shown up to church sat there, listened to the message, let’s be real here, zoned out and thought of the hundred other things I’ve needed to do.  I’ve sat there taking up space, but my heart wasn’t focused, wasn’t present.  After leaving church, life just went on as if I never went.  The message didn’t seep through.
The message didn’t influence me.  Why?  To be under the influence one has to receive.  One has to partake.  One has to be engaged.  We can’t just expect to be under the influence of something by merely taking up space or by osmosis.  Just like a car can’t run without it’s gas tank being filled with gas over and over, our spiritual lives can’t be influenced without being drunk on the Holy Spirit.  Sounds weird right?

Being influenced requires a regular pattern of life.  A regular filling.  A regular receiving.

We may get mad at God and ask why has nothing changed in my life?  The answer may be what influences us?  Who do we hang out with?  What do we spend most of our time doing?  What music do we listen to?  What words come our of our mouths?  What are we really putting into our hearts, minds, mouths and minds?
There may not be a blood tests that measures what is the level of our spiritual influence.  But there is an indicator in our lives that lets us know what influences us–what fruit is growing in our lives?  An apple tree is recognized by its apples just as a lemon tree is recognized by its lemons.  The fruit of kindness, gentleness, joy, peace and self-control is evident when it is growing in our lives. (Galatians 5:22-23)?

What kind of fruit is growing in your life?

If you would like to know what is preventing growth in your life, revisit the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.  Read what sets a person up for success and eternal growth.  There is no one else who influences us more than Jesus.  His influence has transformed our hearts and lives forever that makes an eternal difference.

What Influences Your Life?

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The Intimacy of Grace

In your own words, what does grace mean to you?

Many of us use the term grace loosely, by putting an introductory word before it, like that’s my saving grace, we sing the song amazing grace, we even say grace around our dinner tables before eating.  Grace is such a beautiful entity by itself and doesn’t really need another presiding word next to it.

What is grace and why do we even need it?

In case you haven’t seen the news lately, our world is a pretty corrupt and evil place.  We need grace like we need oxygen to breathe.

Grace is one of those definitions we can read from a book, but isn’t really understood until we’ve received it.

Grace by definition means the ‘unmerited favor of God towards man.’

Grace is something God freely gives us.  There’s an antinomy of grace which exists where we are all given the free gift of grace, something we could never earn or deserve.  Yet how could we be freely given something without ever earning or deserving it?

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–”  Ephesians 2:8

The answer is simply, because He loves us.  

How many of us have gotten close enough to grace to see what the grace of God really entails? Click To TweetThere are so many pictures of grace in which Jesus shows us He loves us despite our shortcomings, our failures and mistakes.

We see His grace in the story of The Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32, when a father takes back his son after he left and spent all of his inheritance.  He celebrates his return with the fattest cow in the herd to show his son how much he missed and loved him.  He didn’t chastise him.  He didn’t give him a lecture, ‘I told you so.’  He embraced him with his undying love sending the message, ‘you are loved and I missed you.’

We see His grace with Peter in John 21:15-25, when Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”  He asks him the same question three times in a row, the same amount of times Peter denied Jesus after he was captured by Roman soldiers.  Asking Peter to profess his love for him the same amount of times Peter denied him, invited him into God’s sanctuary of grace allowing him to receive redemption.

We see His grace with the stoning of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11.  When a woman is brought before Jesus in front of a crowd of people to make judgement upon her for her actions, Jesus responds in a way no one had ever heard or seen before.  Jesus then says to the people, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.”  Then one by one everyone dropped their stones and walked away.  When no one was left except Jesus and the woman, Jesus asked, “Where are your accusers?  Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I.  Go and sin no more.”

These pictures of grace show me, God doesn’t condemn us but loves us despite our wrongdoing.  Grace doesn’t mean he likes our sin or even agrees with it, but means He never turns his back on us or leaves us.

The definition of Intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean something physical.  By definition intimacy means ‘close familiarity or friendship, closeness.’

There is an intimacy or closeness of grace that we would never receive if we weren’t near Him. In each of the above scenarios, each person received God’s grace when they were in His presence.  When God’s love was poured out to them instead of condemnation.

There isn’t a clause that says, grace covers everyone except the evil and wicked, God’s grace is for everyone who willingly accepts it.  God’s grace is one of those things we keep close by but rarely get close to because we’re afraid there’s something required of us.  There must be something God wants from us in order to give this to us.

God wants US.  He wants our HEARTS.  He desires Us.

Imagine if you were the woman whose life was spared from being stoned.  Imagine if you were given that much love and grace, how would you respond?  I think God’s grace was the deal breaker that changed her life to not want to sin anymore.  When God’s grace is staring at us directly in the face, it’s hard to deny the source of where it came from.

We receive the Intimacy of Grace when:

God pours joy into our pain

God’s love chases us down in the most unlikely places

It doesn’t matter how far lost or gone we are, He will find and embrace unconditionally

God covers our shame and there’s no where else to hide except in his light

Even in our poor choices we receive forgiveness and redemption

We receive his eternal gift of salvation

The most intimate, closest moments I’ve had with God were when I’ve been the most broken.  When I’ve been down on my knees before him alone in prayer and he whispers to me, ‘my child I AM here.’

He loves us so much he sent his son to die for us so we could be with Him in heaven.  The same way the cross brought pain to Jesus is the same cross that brings us freedom.  The same grave that brought death to Jesus, is the same grave that brings victory to us.

The closer we get to God’s grace the clearer we see, there’s nothing we could do to make God not love us more or leave us.  The closer we are the clearer we see his undying, unconditional, eternal love desires us more than anything.  Have you received God’s wonderful gift of grace?  You are loved my friend!

How close have you been to God’s grace?

Do you believe God’s grace is for you?

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#ShareFourSomethings

Loved- God’s Grace Said-Song by Elevation “Come to the Altar” Learned- You don’t have to be good to be perfect Read- Everybody Always by Bob Goff


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Mountains and Valleys

Many of us have read or heard of the very popular Bible passage Psalm 23, where David talks about God being his Shepherd, how he leads him beside still waters and restores his soul.  One part of this verse stirs something deep within my heart in verse 4.

Psalm 23:4 ESV

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]  I will fear no evil, for you are with me;  your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Have you ever had a season in your life you didn’t want to be in, where you asked God, “Why am I here?”  “What am I doing in this place?”  With fists clenched, heels digging in the ground, telling God, “I don’t want to be here!”  Sounds like the valley of the shadow of death is one of those places.  Other versions of this verse also read valley of darkness or death.

What do you think David saw when he walked through the valley of darkness?

The valley David refers to in this verse is a valley in the desert of Judah.  Anyone who walks through this valley is putting themselves at risk of encountering anything lurking in the darkness, wildlife, bandits, even a random flash flood.

What strikes me, David is walking through the valley where there is a shadow of death.  Where there was a lot of unknowns surrounding him.  Anything could attack or happen to him at any moment.  Yet, he didn’t run away from the darkness, he didn’t take a different route, he walks right through it.

Do you think David knew he was going to walk through a valley of death?

I think many of us would have turned around if we knew what lied ahead.  We always wonder why God doesn’t share details with us.  If we really knew, we wouldn’t go where God was asking us to go.  David then says in response to walking in the valley, “I will fear no evil, you’re rod and staff comfort me.”  David knew even if he was in the valley he was safe and protected because God was with him every step of the way.

In Everybody Always, Bob Goff talks about fighter pilots who train in the valleys in between the mountains.  When asked why do they train at lower elevations where winds can get them, their response was, ‘so we can get better.’

God isn't always going to lead us to the safest route forward but to the one where we will grow the most. God knows without risk we wouldn't grow #quote @BobGoff #EverybodyAlwaysClick To Tweet

David knew walking through the valley would be hard.  But he also knew in the valley is where he learned to depend on and trust in God the most.  Walking through the valley will be dark and seem like God is far away.  When we trust in what God is able to do and not in what we see, He walks us safely to the other side every time.

It is so easy to praise God when we’re standing on the mountain but not always so easy when we’re deep in the valleys.

Imagine what would happen if we took the same approach as David?  If we faced our fears, our darkness and walked through them, depending on God for our guidance and comfort when we’re afraid?

In the valley is where we grow the most and receive the sweetest most unexpected victories when we trust God to walk us to the other side of our darkness.

Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

God goes and prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.  God doesn’t promise we won’t have to walk through our valleys in the absence of our enemies, but in their presence.  As our enemies surround us God our Shepherd, the master of provision provides for us everything we need in the midst of our battles.

The enemies in our lives are powerless over us when we praise him in our darkness–when we push through holding onto God’s hand, when we trust and don’t know how everything will turn out.  God’s generosity of mercy and grace then overflows in us, all the days of our lives and we will dwell in his house forever (Psalm 23:6).  In God’s house lies a sanctuary of peace and love like none other that sets us free from the fears of any darkness.

The next time fear gets the best of you, allow God to be your Shepherd leading you through your dark valleys.  Pray Psalm 23 over your situation.  Close your eyes and follow the voice of the Shepherd.  Trust in Him, take His hand, He knows the way.

A voice cries:[a]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 40:3-5

What season are you in?

How do you allow God to lead you through your valley?

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The Great Escape

In a few days, Christmas will be over.  Gifts will be given and presents will be opened. Just because Christmas will be over doesn’t mean the story of Jesus ends.

A very important prayer was answered over 2,000 years ago that changed the course of our lives forever.  During the time of the birth of Jesus, King Herod an appointed Roman ruler was king of Jerusalem.  He was a very ruthless and mean man.  He murdered his wife, his 3 sons, his mother-in-law, uncle, babies in Bethlehem and many others.  He was not a person the Jews wanted as their king.  They very much were waiting and praying for a new king, one that would save them from Herod’s rule (Matthew 2:1-2).

It all started with the Magi, the wise men who were following a star that predicted the birth of Jesus, the king of the Jews.  Even though the Magi were Gentiles, they went to seek Him in Jerusalem the Jewish capital city so they could worship Him (Matthew 2:2).  But after meeting with the chief priests and teachers they discovered baby Jesus wasn’t in Jerusalem but born in Bethlehem.
When King Herod heard the news of a possible king being born, he was angry.  He called upon the Magi to tell them “Go and make a careful search for the child.  As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him” (Matthew 2:7).  What the Magi didn’t know was Herod was an evil man and never had any intentions to worship the new king.
The Magi were overjoyed when they finally met baby Jesus and Mary.  They brought them gifts and bowed and worshipped Him (Matthew 2:10-11).  In their rejoicing, Satan was at work behind the scenes, using Herod as his vessel, creating a plan to have baby Jesus killed.
I love how God intervenes to protect His will and plan. 
How was baby Jesus able to escape the evil plan of the Satan?

3 Ways God Intervened:

  1. God warned the Maggi about Herod’s evil plan in a dream.  The Magi decided not to return to Herod but back to their country by another route (Matthew 2:12).  Herod learned he had been outwitted by the Magi, that he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under (Matthew 2:16).
  2. God sent an angel to appear to Joseph in a dream.  The angel said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.  Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him” (Matthew 2:13).  So Joseph and Mary left with baby Jesus to Egypt until the death of Herod.
  3. After Herod died God sent another angel in a dream to Joseph telling him it was safe to head back to Israel (Matthew 2:19).

God was always one step ahead of Satan.  He knew Satan was using Herod for his evil plan, in an attempt to stop one of God’s greatest plans ever—God is bigger.

God heard and answered the prayers of those praying for a new king and saved (Mary, Joseph and Jesus) from the evil hand of Herod. God provided a way to escape from the plans of the evil one.  His merciful hands had it under control the entire time.
Satan will always be at work trying to prevent God’s plans from happening.  Whatever our circumstances are please know, if God is able to provide Mary, Joseph and Jesus an escape from Satan’s evil plans then God is able to do the same for us.  You are loved!
The only temptations that you have are the temptations that all people have. But you can trust God. He will not let you be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, God will also give you a way to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to stand it.  (1 Corinthians 10:13 ICB).
God’s timing and plan are perfect in every way.  If God can answer a prayer from 2,000 years ago, He can answer yours as well.
Your Prayers Matter.  Don’t forget to include PRAYER in Your Christmas Story.   You never know what one prayer can do, it might just change your life or someone else’s.
Do you include Prayer in your Christmas Story?
What have you prayed for this Christmas?
Here is a Christmas Prayer for you.  

A Christmas Prayer-

Dear God-  Thank you for your amazing gift of Jesus this Christmas.  Thank you for hearing our prayers and sending us Savior, a Messiah one that will redeem our world.  You are so merciful and gracious.  Thank you for sparing us and delivering us from the hands of the evil one.  May your light shine through us this Christmas to others.  May they see your bright light and know you have sent them a Savior.  May everyone know and witness your love.  May everyone receive the greatest gift of all this Christmas, eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen
Enjoy your families and know you are loved!
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The Baby That Changed the World

As we approach this Christmas holiday we may have certain expectations of how everything will turn out—baking cookies, playing Christmas music, sending out cards, wrapping gifts, hanging lights, decorating a tree, etc.  These things set the stage and prepare us for the celebration of Christmas.

Imagine if we didn’t decorate for Christmas, send out cards or bake cookies, would anyone recognize it’s time for Christmas?

Two thousand years ago many were anticipating something great to happen, the arrival of the “Messiah the Prince”  of the “Anointed One, the ruler” (Daniel 9:24-27).  People were expectantly waiting for a new Messiah around 30 AD when Jesus was born, based on the prophecy of Daniel.  Jerusalem had a lot of preparation to do before the arrival of their new king.

Little was known how their new king was going to arrive or what he would look like.  Was he to arrive in a chariot of gold, or on a cloud from heaven?  Was he to be surrounded by royalty and clothed with robes and riches?  A worldly expectation would be for a king to be surrounded by all these things.

The Israelites only had the prophecy of Daniel to prepare their hearts for God’s timing and that their Messiah would be a descendant of David (Matt. 1:6, Luke 3:31).  They were not given a description of what their new king looked like only His titles of what He was to fulfill when He came.

“For to us a child is born, to us, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6 NIV

The Israelites weren’t looking for some lowly figure to be their new king, but someone of great importance such as a great military leader or a mighty politician (MacAruthur p. 130).  They were not expecting a baby to fulfill God’s promises.

The Israelites didn’t know their new king would not meet any of their expectations. Because they put their own worldly expectations on who their new Messiah would be, they didn’t even recognize their Messiah when he arrived.

Luke 2:11-12 NKJV
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you:  You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manager.”  

Their new king didn’t make a grand entrance announcing his arrival by riding on a horse, being surrounded by royalty, wearing a crown or holding a scepter in his hand.  Instead, He was born of two peasants Mary and Joseph.  His birth was announced by an angel to shepherds and born in a stable amongst barn animals.

God fulfilled His promises of a king, but the only Israelites who recognized and “understood that Jesus was the Messiah at His birth were Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna,” people of no significance (MacArthur p. 130).

Can you imagine waiting for your king to arrive and not even recognizing him?  

God’s plan wasn’t to have Jesus raised up on a pedestal and be brought into this world among royalty (even though he was a king), but be born among the humble and to dwell among us (John 1:14).

God has the most amazing plans ever. He used a baby to change the world. Click To Tweet

God was fulfilling a greater plan for His greater purpose.  Imagine all of the Israelites who missed out on the birth of their Messiah because they were expecting something different. They inserted their own expectations and definitions of a king, not allowing for God’s greater plan to unfold.

Have you ever inserted your own expectations and definitions into God’s plans?

Have you ever been in the presence of Jesus and didn’t recognize Him?

If God can use a baby to become our Savior and change the world he can use you for his almighty plans.Click To Tweet

We can rejoice because our “Savior has been born!” (Luke 2:11).  He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace!  Praying your Christmas will be filled with all of God’s greatness and glory of our king, Amen!

Did you enjoy this blog post? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a FREE E-book and a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

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Would you like to know more about the Christmas story and what it means to you?  Message me below, “I want more information,”  or message me privately.  Merry Christmas!

“12 Extraordinary Women,” by John MacArthur.  Thomas Nelson 2002. page 130.

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