You Are Known And Loved

Are you getting ready for Christmas?  I don’t know about you, but every year I get caught off guard with all the preparation to get ready for Christmas!  It seems no matter how much I plan, there is always something to get ready for.

The busyness of Christmas can be distracting and overwhelming to our hearts because of all the extra stress the holidays add to our plates.   Before we know it we are missing out on the very reason why we celebrate Christmas.

You Are Known And Loved.

A prophet named Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David!  Is it not enough to try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of my God also?  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us)” (Isa. 7:13-14).

In the verse above, the Prophet Isaiah was preparing our hearts for the arrival of Jesus.

Have you ever felt not seen or heard?

Two thousand years ago a peasant girl named Mary might have felt this way until …….

Luke 1:26-35….”God sent the angel…to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary….

Mary was just a young peasant girl who was about to be married.  Why would God choose her?  The angel Gabriel tells Mary, “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).  The Greek word for highly favored is charis which means grace.

God had found favor in Mary and bestowed a special honor on her.  God sent an angel to prepare Mary’s heart for God’s greater plan.

Gabriel, the angel prepares Mary’s heart, that she will be with child and his name will be Jesus.

Gabriel goes even further and tells Mary five things about her future son.

1.  He will be great.  Luke 1:32

2.  He will be called the Son of the Most High. Luke 1:32

3.  He will be given the throne of His father David.  Luke 1:32

4.  He will reign in the house of Jacob forever.  Luke 1:33

5.  His kingdom will never end.  Luke 1:33

“How will this be,”  Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34).  This is what I love about Mary.  She doesn’t question the fact that the Messiah is coming, but rather that she would be used as a vessel for his arrival, a young virgin peasant girl.

She didn’t doubt or question God’s plan, instead asked how will this even be possible since she is a virgin?

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”  (Luke 1:35).  

I don’t know about you, but I want a heart like Mary’s.  A heart that is ready to trust and receive God’s promises. Mary’s heart welcomed the angel’s message, by submitting her heart almost immediately after hearing his message!

She didn’t let her doubts or fears get in the way of God’s plan.  She allowed for God’s greater plan to happen through her, by submitting her heart to God.

How wise was Mary’s heart to recognize this message could have only come from God Himself?

Mary heard the message of God’s promise, and her heart of faith was reassured by the words, “For nothing is impossible with God”  (Luke 1:37).  She even uttered the words, “I am the Lord’s servant, May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).  No wonder God found favor with Mary.  God already knew Mary’s heart before He chose her.

I want a heart like Mary’s.

Can you imagine if Mary didn’t allow for God’s greater plan to happen and allowed her doubts and fears to get in the way instead?

Have you ever allowed your doubts and fears get in the way of God’s greater plan?

I have many times.  I wonder how many times has God sent me a message I didn’t recognize was from him.  Letting me know I am known and loved and I just ignored Him?

Friend, you are known and loved by God who loved you first.  This Christmas before we allow busyness and distractions to take us away from the true meaning of Christmas, let’s stop and allow God to prepare our hearts for His greater plan.

There is a fullness of joy when we stay present in the presence of Jesus.  We can rest assured—that His peace will fill our hearts with JOY and will fill our souls with PEACE, when we allow for God’s greater plan to happen through us.

A heart prepared is a heart ready to receive God's promises of peace, hope, and joy. Click To Tweet

Do you struggle with being known and loved by God?

If God sent an angel with a message to you, “Do not be afraid.”  Would you go where God was asking you to go?

Prayer:  Dear Lord Jesus, thank you God for your greater plan.  Thank you God for Jesus and preparing a place in heaven for us.  We pray we will have a heart like Mary’s, one that is obedient, faithful and trusting of your plan even when we don’t understand.  Prepare our hearts Lord for your greater promises.  We pray we will not get in the way of your plan but allow your greater plan to happen through us.  We pray for your will and ways to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Help us not be afraid like Mary and allow for your greater promises to fill our hearts.  Help us stay present in your presence this Christmas and focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus.  In Jesus name, 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 weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!  Would you like to know more about the Christmas story!  Join me next Monday as we learn more about what the Christmas story means to you.  

Martin, J. A. (1985). Luke. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 205). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Why Do We Struggle with Being Authentic?

Have you ever struggled with being honest with yourself?  And wondered why is it so hard for me to be vulnerable and real?  Chances are you are not alone.  Many of us struggle with showing the world our real selves (me included) for fear of being criticized or judged.  For fear of not being liked or even outcasted from circles of friends.

If you work in any kind of team setting chances are you’ve already taken a Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, or HSP personality test to determine where you fall in the spectrum of being a team player or coachable.  How we perceive and receive information is vital in how we respond and grow.

Knowing who we are helps us to be the truest version of ourselves and not try to be something we’re not.  Most recently I’ve taken the Myer-Briggs test and discovered I’m an ENFJ which means I’m an extrovert, I’m intuitive, I process things through feelings and I have good judgement.

I actually scored very low on the extrovert making me closer to an introvert than I realized.  I get recharged by retreating to a quiet place by myself instead of throwing myself into a big crowd of people.

On the Enneagram I’m a 1 with a 2 wing.  And on the Highly Sensitive Person test I scored a 13, meaning a process information at a higher degree of emotion than others.

To not know who you really are, is a lonely place to be.  Chances are if there is a struggle in your life, maybe your struggle isn’t about what you’re really struggling with but a deeper conflict of denying your own self in how God made you.

Why Do We Struggle With Being Authentic?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of authentic is:  true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.

Ask yourself these questions.

Do you allow others to see your real self?  Do you allow them to see not just the good parts about you, but the broken pieces, flaws and everything in between?

Are you a ‘doer’?  Meaning do you play the role of a ‘fixer’ and try to ‘do’ compassion for others by doing things for them, or can you just ‘be’ compassion for a friend?

Are you a chameleon and try to blend in a crowd (depending who’s there) or do you let your real personality come through no matter what situation you’re in?

Do you allow anyone to see your emotions when you’re happy, sad, frustrated or annoyed?  Or do you only share emotions with certain people you consider safe?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions.  They are merely to probe a deeper response to ‘why’ do we do what we do?

Chances are many of us are afraid to show our real selves for fear of not being accepted or wanted by anyone.Click To Tweet

Sadly I think many of us adapt our personalities depending on our situations, to conform to the worldly ‘normal’ of what’s acceptable.  We deny who we are at the cost of fitting in.

We struggle with being authentic because……….

We don’t give ourselves the liberty to be honest and real.  When are busy being busy, we’re not able to sit and peel back the layers of what really lies beneath.  When we do we’ll be surprised to find there is a lot of good stuff under all those layers!  There is nothing under those layers God can’t mend!

We become human ‘doers’ instead human ‘beings.’  When we ‘do’ love instead of ‘being’ love, we become the rescuers and Saviors, two roles that are meant for Jesus, not us.  When we become love, we become a vessel for God’s love showing others the love that could only come from Jesus.

We hide our brokenness, keep our flaws hidden.  When we protect our flaws from being seen and not allow them to be brought into the light, we deny the essence of who we are, broken.  I’m not saying stand on a stage with a megaphone and shout to the world all of of your ugly secrets.  What I am saying is exercise wisdom by having people of accountability in your life that can help be a voice of wisdom.  Someone you can share your junk with who can pray for you and keep you straight.

To hide our brokenness is to hide Jesus.

Jesus didn’t come to die on the cross in secret.  He died on the cross for all the world to see to let them know salvation is a FREE gift for EVERYONE.  

To deny our brokenness is to deny Jesus.

We can never be authentic or live in God’s original design in our lives when we aren’t able to be honest with ourselves.

Do you know your TRUE self?

Do you feel like you have the FREEDOM to live how God created you?  Why or Why not?

Do you struggle with being authentic?

How can you be more authentic today?

If you struggle with being who you are, try taking a personality test.  Try writing a letter to yourself, telling yourself it’s okay to be you.  Write down your personality traits.  Which ones do you allow others to see?  Which ones do you hide and ask why do you hide these traits?

Or find an accountability partner, a wise mentor, or a life coach to help in your journey in getting back to your TRUE self.  Start journaling and seeking God in prayer of what He desires for you.

When we deny who we are in how God made us we are missing out on God's original design and purpose in our lives. Click To Tweet

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:12

Praise God, when we embrace God’s purpose for us, we will always be able to live in our most authentic selves.

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When You’re Identity Isn’t You’re Identity

In case you haven’t noticed, anyone you talk to nowadays has had their DNA tested by some sort of DNA testing company such as ancestry and 23 and me.  These companies make it so easy, just swab or spit into the container they provide and ship off the specimen in the mail.  They are not only able to test what your ancestral composition is but your genetic health as well.

People choose to have their DNA tested for all sorts of reasons.  It could be they were adopted and want to know more information about where they came from.  It could be to find out if their ancestral heritage is really what they’ve been told.  Or they just want to know if they have a variant for a certain genetic disorder.

Whatever the reason, people are curious about what makes up their genetic DNA, because that makes us who we are.

When You’re Identity Isn’t You’re Identity

I recently had my DNA tested and was very surprised to find out what I discovered.  I knew I was Scottish and British and was told my whole life I was Native American.  Well, DNA is DNA and evidence does not lie.  My DNA did not show one drop of Native American blood.  In fact it showed I was 8% African American and 5% Ashkenazi Jew among 13% French German and 2% Scandinavian and Spanish/Portuguese.

I was quite surprised to discover my DNA didn’t show what I was told my whole life.  What I’ve discovered on this journey, is creating a family tree to trace back who your ancestors really are helps.  I have found there is some truth to what I’ve been told and what my DNA shows.

The only problem is once one starts digging into the past and building family trees, one might discover there’s a lot of skeletons in the closet that some don’t want uncovered.

We all have messed up and broken pasts that may reveal ugly parts of our past.  Even Jesus did.  Check out this short video done by Bible Gateway that shows the messed up past of Jesus’ genealogy.  He was related to Rahab the prostitute, King David a rapist and murder, And King Solomon a big time polygamist. Click here to watch the short video.

One might think how can Jesus our Savior, who never sinned have such a messed up past? Click To Tweet

We may want to dismiss our own broken pieces of our past to somehow make us more ‘holy’ if we didn’t have these things as a part of our lives.  But the Bible doesn’t cover up the brokenness of Jesus’ past or anyone for that matter.  In fact, the Bible leads with the brokenness of the most highly esteemed people in the Bible.

To cover up the broken pieces of our lives is to cover up Jesus.Click To Tweet

We miss out on our true purpose and identity when we deny how God made us.  We may not like our flaws, our idiosyncrasies, or even our past mistakes, but it is how God made us and will use everything for His greater plan.

Our brokenness and past mistakes don't define us, our choices and who God says we are does.Click To Tweet

What’s so amazing about Jesus’ history is no matter who we are, no matter what our past reveals he can identify with our messes!

Our identities will never be found in our past.  They will never be found in what we wear or even how much money we make.  They will never be found in titles, the more we have or how many people we know.

Our true identity will always be found in Jesus in who he says we are.  Hallelujah praise God for that!

We all have different genetic DNA, but when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we all have the same spiritual DNA making us all apart of God’s big family.

“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 1:5 NLT

We obtain a new identity in Christ when we accept Him as our Savior.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

We no longer want or desire our old ways.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  Galatians 5:24

We become a new person in Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

Our old selves are no longer. 

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  Philippians 1:21

To live in Christ is to gain.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Phil. 3:8 ESV

Friend, you were made for this.

Your past does not need you, your future does.

You were made and created just the way you are for God's bigger plan and purpose. Praise God our identities aren't in what this world says but in who God says we are. Click To Tweet

Have you ever believed something about your identity that wasn’t true?

What part of your identity do you struggle with?

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What To Do With Unsolvable Problems

“The thing I love about God is He intentionally guides people into failure.”  Bob Goff, Love Does

Do you ever struggle with having unsolvable problems in your life?  You know those problems that keep coming up over and over that don’t ever seem to get solved?  The more I’m getting to know myself the more I realize, I can’t stand having unsolvable problems in my life.

You know what I do with those problems?  I try to solve them myself!  Yup.  For some reason I think it’s my job to attach myself to the solution, the outcome, and the problem itself and try to fix it!  I try to control these things I have no control over.

As a result of me trying to exert my non-existent authority and weakness over these matters a mess happens.  Why do I think I can do a better job than God?   I don’t know, but it never works.  God doesn’t need my help, yet I interfere to offer my services where they don’t belong.

Have You Ever Been There?  

What To Do With Unsolvable Problems:

We’re not the only ones who struggle with problems in our lives we can’t solve.  The Israelites had A LOT of problems and they ALSO tried to take matters in their own hands MANY times.

In Exodus 32:1-2, The Israelites went before Aaron, Moses’ brother and said, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us.  As for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”  So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”

“So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron.  And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and make a golden calf.  And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”  (Exodus 32:3-4).

If you have been following my posts we have been following the Israelites through their journey of their captivity, deliverance  and waiting.  In Letting Go, Letting God The Israelites had to let go of their expectations of how God was going to deliver his promise of The Promised Land.  Here once again, The Israelites were waiting for Moses (which seemed like forever) to return from Mt. Sinai with the 10 commandments.

They got impatient, seeking an alternative to God.  And instead of seeking their one true God, they looked elsewhere to a less than false god with their own belongings.

What a mess they had made when they got impatient, taking matters into their own hands.  Instead of waiting for God’s greater and better plan, they decided their plan was better and went ahead of God.

How many times do we do this as well?  We think we know better.  We think we have a better way.  And then our fruitless efforts of making God’s plans better become an entangles mess.

If only The Israelites took their unsolvable problem of wanting to worship a god NOW was taken to their one and only true God FIRST. Click To Tweet

If only when we have Unsolvable Problems we take them to God FIRST instead of trying to solve them OURSELVES with our own accord and strength.

“For I know the plans for you, declares the LORD, Plans to Prosper you and not to harm you, Plans to give you a Hope and a Future.”

God does not need my help, nor did He ask for it.  Yet I run ahead and involve myself to try to ‘fix’ or make it ‘better.’

We all have unsolvable problems.  The balance is learning how to live life WITH these unsolvable problems.  It’s okay to have problems, because I know the one who can solve them.  I know the one who has the solution for them.  I know the one who has the answer to them.

When we allow God to have our unsolvable problems, He’s able to mend, to mold, to refine, use them, restore, redeem, reconcile them into something so much greater.  The only problem to the unsolvable problem is US when we continue to get in the way and don’t allow God to do His thing.

His ways are greater, His plans are better.

What should we do with our unsolvable problems? Give them to the one who is able. Click To Tweet

What do you do with your unsolvable problems?

Do you try to ‘fix’ your own problems?

The best thing we can do to allow God access to our problems is to GET OUT OF THE WAY.  When we do, we give God the authority to solve our problems in His power and in His way.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, I know I have unsolvable problems that only you can fix.  I know that I’ve been guilty of trying to fix my problems my way and have been getting in the way.  I know I’m not the authority in my problems but yet I try to take control and fix my problems my way.  Please forgive me Lord, for taking the steering wheel out of your hands.  Take my hands off of anything where they don’t belong.  I pray I will allow for your timing, your plans to mend and restore my problems.  Thank you God for caring so much for me and walking through this with me, I pray this in Jesus name.  Amen

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Letting Go and Letting God

I will never forget when my family and I went on this one camping trip.  We had a golden retriever named Ginger.  My dad handed my eight-year-old sister the dog leash and gave her the instructions, ‘don’t let go.’  I was standing next to her and a squirrel ran across the parking lot up a tree.  You can only imagine what happened next.  The dog chased the squirrel, the only problem was my sister was holding on to the leash.

My sister was then drug across the gravel parking lot holding onto the leash.  I yelled, “Let go! Let go of the leash!”  I couldn’t believe it.  If a dog who weighed as much as me ran across a gravel parking lot, I would have let go of the leash.  But for some reason my sister held on and endured scrapes and injuries from the gravel as a result of holding on.

This picture of my sister holding onto the leash shows me this is what a lot of us do in life when we are going through hard times.  We think we have to hold on so tightly to what God is allowing in our lives, and just take the injuries along the way.  In reality we have a choice to let go of what we’re holding onto so tightly and allow God to handle it or keep holding onto it and endure more suffering.

Recently,  I was in a group discussion about what it means to “Let God and Let God.”  This phrase is used all the time but what does it really mean to be able to accomplish the task of letting go and letting God?

According to Psychology Today, Letting go means, being willing to allow life to carry you to a new place, even a deeper more true rendition of self. Holding on means trying to push life into the place of your making or be damned

In our group discussion we determined letting go meant, trusting in God that things will get better, to accept the things we cannot change and having the courage the courage to change the things we can.

Letting go doesn’t mean keep holding on and hoping for the best.

Letting go doesn’t mean keep walking around your problems hoping God does his part.

Letting go doesn’t mean sit back and wait for God to do all the work.

Which part do you struggle with, the letting go or the letting God part?Click To Tweet

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”  Romans 8:28 NIV

Letting go might feel like you are walking away and don’t care, but in reality it’s the exact opposite.  Letting go allows God to do his job of what he was intended to do in the first place.  When we hold on, we just get in the way.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”  Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Letting go might mean to let go of expectations or resentment.  Letting go may even mean one needs to forgive to be able to let go of un-forgiveness.  We may even have to let go of the outcome.

One group of people who learned the epitome of letting go, were the Israelites.  They had expectations God was going to deliver them from Egypt into The Promised Land.  God is a God who ALWAYS keeps His promises we just might not agree with His timing.  God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt but not immediately into The Promised Land.

“Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff, so that a great amount of water gushed out, and the congregation and their livestock were able to drink” (Numbers 20:11).

At this point the Israelites had been wandering around the wilderness for 38 years.  Over the years God had provided food, protection, etc. for them time and time again.  This time they were groaning for water complaining they were surely going to die if they didn’t receive it.

Moses and Aaron went before God with their request.  God instructed Moses to take the staff and TELL the rock to yield water.

As you can see in the above verse, this is not what happened.  Instead Moses took the staff and struck the rock twice.  Although there is only a slight difference in what God told Moses to do and what he actually did, this caused a BIG difference in the outcome.

I can relate to Moses.

Maybe he was frustrated the wandering was taking so long.  Maybe he couldn’t handle the Israelites complaining anymore.  Or maybe he held onto pride, let it get in the way and wanted to deliver the water the way he wanted instead of how God intended.

Whatever the reason, we can see God honors our obedience. God says to them, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them”  (Numbers 20:12).  Ouch.  That consequence had to hurt.

Because Moses wasn’t able to let go of frustration, resentment, pride and/or expectations, he acted out because of it and received a heavy consequence.  When we hold on to what God is asking us to let go of we aren’t trusting He is able.

Letting go may be one of the hardest things we do, but allowing God to have whatever we're holding onto is trusting He is able to accomplish anything.Click To Tweet

Letting go will never pull us into a direction that will intentionally hurt us.  Letting go will allow room for God’s original plan in our lives to fill us with His joy, peace and freedom.

What does letting go and letting God mean to you?

Do you struggle with letting go and letting God?

What has God asked you to let go of?

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3 Ways to Break the Crazy Cycle

The crazy cycle.  You know that cycle of insanity of doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome to happen, that never happens.  Instead the exact opposite happens a downward spiral of nowhere good.

We’ve all been on it.  We’ve all engaged in it.  So how do we stay out of this crazy cycle?

I’m no expert.  Even though I’ve been married 16 years, I still get caught in the trap of the crazy cycle, if I’m not careful.

If we know the crazy cycle is detrimental to our relationships then why do we continue to get caught in this trap?

I think because we each want to be heard and see each others hearts, but somehow craziness erupts instead leaving us feeling hurt and frustrated.  Over the years I’ve discovered what works, what doesn’t work and what I’m still working on.  Marriage isn’t a one and done, I’ve got all the answers and figured it out kind of deal.   It’s a forever refining process that reveals our flaws and weaknesses and if we allow it, transforms us into the best version of ourselves.

Here are 3 Ways to Break the Crazy Cycle:

Respond don’t react.  “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end” (Proverbs 29:11).

I don’t know about you, but I never feel good about myself when I react in anger.  What I have learned over the years getting angry at the situation will never get me closer to the outcome I desire.  Whenever I stop, calm down, then respond, I never regret it.  The best thing we can do is recognize when the crazy cycle is about to happen.  Instead of reacting out of emotion and engaging in the crazy cycle the better response is BE CALM.

Come up with statements, ‘Let me think about that first and I will get back to you.‘ Or, ‘I need to calm down, I’m going to go for a walk, then I will address this when I get back.’  By temporarily walking away (not avoiding) it helps dial down the heat of the moment.  I am also a big fan of acronyms.  Here are two that have helped me.  Before responding use the *THINK acronym, is it TRUE, is it Helpful, is it Inspiring, is it Necessary, or Kind?

There is also the HALT acronym, am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired?  Chances are if we are one of these things we will not react well.  Identifying and recognizing underlying factors can help tremendously in our responses.

Listen and Be Available. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” (James 1:19).

Over the years I’ve had to really work on this one.  There is an art to listening.  Listening can be so powerful.  It just lets the person know I hear you and I empathize what you are going through.  We don’t have to offer advice.  We don’t have to fix it, we can just make ourselves available so the other person can vent.  Allowing for opportunities to hear one another in non-confrontational scenarios creates a loving environment that has potential for growth.

Forgive.  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Without forgiveness, marriage wouldn’t be able to exist.  Forgiveness is the crux to marriage.  To forgive is to love and to love is to forgive.  Forgiveness allows us to turn away from destructive habits, allows us to take a step back and see what is triggering this cycle again, and gives us a glimpse into how God’s grace continually forgives us.

Forgiveness is a powerful tool in looking inwardly at ourselves to learn from our mistakes and unlearn bad habits that keep us in the crazy cycle.Click To Tweet

In the Bible, there is a story of a crippled man who sat by a healing pool.  By this pool laid multiple invalids who were blind, lame and paralyzed (John 5:2).  However this one day, Jesus arrives to the scene and approaches one crippled man in particular.  Jesus knew this particular man had been there a greater part of his life of 38 years and asks a very important questions, “Do you want to be healed?”

The invalid man, didn’t know how to respond, of course he wanted to be healed, he was sitting by a pool that could heal him.  But this isn’t how he answered.  He responds to Jesus, not with an immediate yes, but with a few reasons why he can’t quite get down to the healing pool.  Jesus replies, ‘that is not what I’m asking you, if you want to be healed pick up your mat and walk’ (paraphrased John 5:7).  

This man was hesitant to accept this miraculous gift of healing because the only thing he’s ever known was dysfunction and disability.  He’s lived his entire life begging and making a living as a cripple, which has served him well until this point.  Talk about crazy cycle, doing the same thing over and over for 38 years expecting something different to happen!  If he was healed then he was going to have to learn how to provide for himself instead on relying on others.

Just because this crippled man became comfortable living in the chaos of the crazy cycle doesn’t mean this is what God intends for us or what is good for us.

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33Click To Tweet

Let me say that again, Chaos does not need you.  The crazy cycle will only keep us in a state of chaos, which is exactly what the enemy wants for us.  When you feel the tug of the chaos, that crazy cycle pulling you in, don’t react, respond when calm, listen and forgive.

Chaos is the enemy’s way to get us engaged in his plan to pull us down and lure us away.  Don’t fall for it.  Be smarter than the crazy cycle so we can engage in God’s purpose and plan for us to transform our lives.

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Does Our Faith Save Us?

Is our faith enough to save us?

Earlier this month a beloved Pastor named Jarrid Wilson took his own life.  He was a Pastor of a Harvest Christian Fellowship and founder of Anthem of Hope Ministries, a ministry to help those who struggled with depression and suicide.  He brought many to know Jesus and was an accomplished author of a few books, “Love is Oxygen,” “Jesus Swagger,” and “Wondrous Pursuit.”

As a Pastor and Man of God we think how can this happen?  It goes to show struggles are real and even godly people aren’t exempt.  How is it a man who walked with God so closely, spread His good news, helped hundreds with depression and brought many to Christ take his own life?

Jarrid Wilson’s situation asks deeper questions.

Did Jarrid not have enough faith?

If His faith didn’t save him, then what’s the point of having faith?

So many people in the Bible can ask the same question.

Did Daniel’s faith save him from being thrown in the lion’s den? No

Did Shadrack, Meschack, and Abendago’s faith save them from being thrown in the fiery furnace? No

Did the Israelites’ faith save them from being attacked by the Egyptians? No

Did Jesus’ faith prevent him from being crucified on the cross? No

You may be thinking, then what is the point in having faith if it doesn’t keep me safe?

Samaritan’s Purse put out a movie a couple of years ago called  ‘Facing the Darkness’ which was a documentary of the Ebola crisis outbreak.  Dr. Brantly the doctor and first American to contract the Ebola virus, said something so profound. He said, “Faith is not something that makes you safe. My faith did not save me but got me through it. My Faith actually brought me to the Ebola crisis.”

These examples of faith did not PREVENT them from being put in scary, dangerous circumstances. Standing firm in their faith DID PROTECT them and allow for God’s greater plan to happen.

If Daniel didn’t have faith we would have never seen GOD’S POWER to shut the mouths of lions.

If Shadrack, Meshack and Abendago didn’t have faith we would had never seen GOD’S POWER protect them from being burned in the fiery furnace and how God was with them.

If the Israelites didn’t have faith we would have never seen GOD’S POWER to part the Red Sea providing a way out from their enemies.

If Jesus refused to put his trust in His Father’s hands, we would have missed out on the greatest plan that ever existed—OUR ETERNAL SALVATION.

Each example of faith, including Dr. Brantly’s brought them to the heart of a crisis where their lives were at stake. Through each act of faith, we were able to see how trusting in God’s plan moves mountains and makes the impossible, possible.

How big is your faith?

Matthew 17:20 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

It’s not the size of our faith that moves mountains, but the size of our God.  

IF our FAITH was enough to save us, there would have been no point in sending Jesus. Click To Tweet

Our faith allows God’s greater plan to play out. Our faith does not save us, but God’s grace does. 

Our faith will not SAVE us from our bad circumstances or GUARANTEE us a life without struggles. Our FAITH will not prevent us from being thrown into a pit of lions, a fiery furnace, being attacked by our enemies or contracting a deadly disease. Having faith does not exempt us from harsh realities of this world.

Our faith DOES allow God to be in control and puts the trust in HIS capabilities. Our faith is the very thing that will get us through to the other side and live in the abundant blessings God has to offer. It doesn’t matter what circumstances we are up against, when we have faith we become OVERCOMERS in Christ. Our faith allows us to experience PEACE in the storms and JOY in our struggles because of what God has already gone ahead of us and done.

Where will you allow your faith to take you?

Our faith may lead us into scary, dangerous places.  Be encouraged……..

God's grace will not take us where his love cannot protect us. Click To Tweet

God’s grace and love are greater and bigger than anything in this world.

1 John 4:4 “ You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

How has your faith protected you in your hard circumstances?

Friends, suicide is never the answer.  If you are having suicidal thoughts please reach out and ask for help, call a friend.  Please know your life matters, you are worthy and valuable.

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He Makes All Things NEW

He Makes All Things New

Ever wonder why we go through what we go through?  After our son died,  I was left with a lot of questions, “Why?” “How could this even happen?”  When bad things happen in our lives, we can question if God is a good God then how could he allow something like this to happen?

I’ll never forget when someone gave me a little story book called, “Water bugs and dragonflies.”  I wondered, ‘why would someone give me a children’s book after our son just died?”  As the story goes, there was a family of water bugs.  Every so often the water bugs would venture off up the stalks of grass, above the surface of water to never return or be seen again.

When it was time for the water bug, narrating the story, turn to leave, he discovered when he went to the surface, something amazing happened.  He gained wings!  In his excitement he realized, ‘wait, I have to go back to tell my family!’  Then he realized he couldn’t because of his wings, and in his transformation, no one would recognize him anyway.  He would have to wait until the rest of his family went through their transformation to see them again.

Something New will be Born

Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the LORD. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God. Isa. 66:9 NIV

He Makes All Things New

When life hurts and we think God’s promises have failed us, one person in the Bible reminds me that God never leaves us and uses everything we go through for his greater purpose.  Job was a man of great wealth, blameless, upright, feared God and turned away from evil (Job 1:1).  He had a big family, a big house, lots of cattle, and servants.  Everything Job touched was blessed.

Then Satan comes along and wants to test Job, put him through trials, to see if he would still praise God and stay faithful.  God granted Satan access to Job to be allowed to test job in ways that were beyond imaginable, knowing whatever Satan did, Job would never turn away from Him (Job 1:8-12)

Satan’s first set of attacks on Jobs targeted his family (killing all his children) and cattle (all were taken and stolen from his property).  Imagine losing all your children and cattle all at once.  The depth of despair and loss must have been heavy and great.  Despite this Job still cried out to God and said, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;  blessed be the name of the LORD” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:21-22).  

Satan’s second set of attacks, targeted Job’s health leaving him with sores all over his body (Job 2:7).  Job’s wife even said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9).  But he said to her, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive  evil?  In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10).  

In other words, life encompasses good and bad.  Are we to only embrace the good parts of life and not the bad parts?

Jobs’ his life had been good up until this point, just because bad things were happening now, does that mean God wasn’t good?

When Job’s three friends heard of his suffering and turmoil, they came to support and mourn with him.  For seven days they sat in silence, wept with him and comforted him (Job 2:11-13).  After those seven days, Job starts opening up about his heartache and hardship to his friends, questioning, ‘why was he even born?’ or ‘why must he go through all this suffering?’ 

Then his three friends chime in and given their own opinion and reason for Job’s suffering.  If Job was the target of all this suffering, he must have done something in his life to deserve all this.  Job’s circumstances must be a result of not being right before God and he needed to repent of any sin to make his suffering go away (Job 4).

“As I have seen, the who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same” (Job 4:8).  His friends believed somehow God was judging Job’s character and he was now reaping the consequences.  It is true there is a law of sowing and reaping in Galatians 6:7 and 2 Corinthians 9:6, whatever effort we put into things we sow what we reap.

To turn that around and apply this concept to God implying he punishes and condemns us for our past mistakes is not the truth.  God is a loving forgiving God.

'We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are' (Romans 3:22 NLT).Click To Tweet

Yes it is true God allows certain circumstances to happen in our lives, but that does not mean God is evil and wants us to suffer.  There is nothing we can do, that would make God Not LOVE us.  We can be forgiven no matter what we’ve done, how lost we are or how far away from God we are.  His love is for everyone and anyone has the choice to be saved and forgiven.

The part of Job’s story I love the most, is how he remained faithful and praised God despite is horrible circumstances.  I love what Job says,

'I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted' (Job 42:1)Click To Tweet

In the end, God restored Job’s fortunes and blessed him with twice as much as he had before.

Our past does not define our future. #quote Pastor Rick Warren

Job may have endured a lot, but he persevered because:

  1. He praised God even in his darkest moments
  2. He didn’t listen to naysayers (his friends)
  3. He held onto the goodness of God and trusted what God had for him was greater

God may allow us to endure hardships, but will use them to refine us and rid of us anything getting in the way of His greater purpose.  Job never turned his back on God and allowed his story to be all for God’s glory.  God can do all things and no amount of evil can ever stop God’s purpose and plan of what He’s already done for us.

No trial, no heartache, no struggle is ever wasted. Just as a woman goes through the pain of labor, God doesn’t allow anything to happen in our lives without something new to be born.

“And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelations 21:5).

I love how God can turn the most tragic circumstances into His greatest plans ever.  Just like the water bugs, God makes all things new.  

Have you ever had a trial or hardship in your life that God used for his greater purpose?

How has God made things new in your life?

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In Him,

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What Is The Number One Scam of The Week?

@ThePrayingWoman

Don’t Be Fooled

Don’t know if you have been up to date with the current scams going on out there, but every week hackers and scam artists are crafting ever so creative new ways to scam us all. 

It seems every week I get a phone call from the IRS saying they have a warrant for my arrest for unpaid taxes.  Or I get an email phishing for personal information impersonating my bank or fake profile friend requests on Facebook. 

The hacking and scam attempts have become so heightened to the point the IT Security team at my work sends me a scam of the week email with the new bad guys’ scams. 

Just like these online predators, the enemy likes to invade when we least expect it. 

With all the new technology and security measures in place, the little thieves in waiting learn how to adapt and discover different ways to break the boundaries of security to rob us of our identities and take everything they can get at our expense! 

I appreciate my work emails warning me of the ever-evolving and lingering scams waiting to attack and invade my bank accounts.  Their message is know before the scam.  If it weren’t for them warning me I may fall victim to even more scams. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all warned about the scams and tricks of Satan before the attack? 

A Scam of the Week email would be nice right?

These scams remind me of the Bible verse, “Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”  Matthew 7:15

Imagine a wolf lurking around wearing a sheep’s costume.  I know this isn’t possible, but just think for a moment what does a wolf gain by pretending to be a sheep?  His next meal. 

“For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”  2 Corinthians 11:14

To read the rest of this article visit theprayingwoman.com.  

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10 Bible Verses That Will Give You More Courage

10 Courageous Bible Verses

 

Have you ever been stuck in a rut or the same pattern that keeps repeating over and over?  You wonder how do I get off this treadmill that leads to the land of nowhere?

Sometimes I tend to blame my situation or circumstances of why I can’t move forward or get off that treadmill when I realize I AM the stumbling block.  I’m the one trying to do things my own way, with my own strength, forgetting to rely on God for HIS Courage to get me through.

When you feel yourself getting into a rut or running on the treadmill keep these verses near and hide them in your hearts, so we don’t keep trusting in our own strength but in God’s strength.  When we refer to the ONE who is the PROVIDER of COURAGE we will always have an endless supply.

Here are 10 Bible Verses That Will Give You More Courage:

What is Courage?  The Bible defines courage as as the ability to do something brave out of a motivation of the heart.  Courage wouldn’t be courage if we weren’t taking risks towards growth that scared us.  In reality, courage helps build our character for what God has in store for us, helps strengthen us and helps us learn how to draw closer and depend on
God.

When we need to depend on God.

  1.   “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 1:9

This Bible verse is hanging in my bedroom above my bed.  I love how I can physically see this verse and be reminded of it’s power.  We don’t have to fear or be afraid when God is holding our hands.

2.  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise— in God, I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”  Psalm 56:3-4

In my experience, displaced trust causes more fear.  When we put the trust in ourselves we will always fall short and fail.  We don’t have to be afraid when our trust is placed in God our PROTECTOR who is able to keep us safe.

3. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

I love how before Jesus left this earth, he gives encouragement we don’t have to be afraid.  We can receive a peace that’s not of this world when we focus our hearts on HIM and not our circumstances.

When God’s courage strengthens us.

4.  “Wait for the LORD;  be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”  Psalm 27:14

God uses EVERYTHING we go through for HIS GLORY and HIS PLANS.  He uses our circumstances, our trials, burdens, our struggles to strengthen us and build our COURAGE so he can use us for what He has in store for us, if WE LET HIM.  When we patiently WAIT for what he has for us we will see HIS glorious plans unfold within our lives.

5.  “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.”  Psalm 31:24

God never says what we go through isn’t going to be hard.  He left instructions in how to strengthen the courage he gives us.  Courage needs strength in order for it to be courage.  When we depend and seek God for our strength we will have all the courage we need.  We can trust his courage is enough and all we will ever need.

6.  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”  Ephesians 6:10

We can rest in God’s mighty power for our strength and courage.  We don’t have to use our own strength to go through what we’re going through.  Nothing in this world can compare or even come close to be being more powerful that God’s power and strength.

When God’s Courage motivates us to accomplish His will for us.

7.  “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

We don’t have to be discouraged.  Whatever work we we do, when we do it for the Lord, it will never be in vain.  We can stand firm even when don’t like our circumstances and trust he will use them for something greater.  The assignments God has for us can’t be messed up by the circumstances of our past (@OhSheNoble).  God made us with flaws and all.  He made us all with a specific purpose.

Our flaws don't disqualify us from HIS plans our disobedience does. Click To Tweet

8.  “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”  2 Timothy 1:7

Don’t miss out on the journey God has for you, because of fear-filled thoughts and discouraging doubts.  God didn’t create us to live in a world of defeat but be victorious in His strength and courage.  Embrace who you are in how God made you, flaws and all and allow HIM to use them as a platform for HIS strength.

We can trust in His plans.

9.  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

We can trust God’s plans are the best plans.

10.  “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

Whatever you're going through, DON'T GIVE UP! God's Courage is Strong Enough to Get you Through! #dontgiveup #choose #courage #brave #choosegrittyClick To Tweet

When you feel the tug of defeat weighing on your heart, refer to these verses.  And Remember…………

How God use situations of adversity like David when he defeated Goliath.  A young boy was an unlikely choice to defeat a giant, but God used David’s skill and God’s courage to defeat a giant 4 times his size.

Remember how God used a storm to show Peter, when we step out of the boat in obedience to God’s calling we see miracles happen (walking on water).

Resting in God’s endless supply of Courage will his greatest accomplishments to arise in US!  God’s strength is ENOUGH!

Do you need more courage?

What makes your courage stronger?

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Need a reminder to Be strong and Courageous?  Here’s a FREE Downloadable printable bookmark.  Just Download and Print! Just Click on this link: We need to know we are not alone.

Be Strong and Courageous Bookmark

Need ways to make your courage stronger?  Here are 3 ways that may help!  Click Here.  


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