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What’s My Focus?

 

The other day I had the most vivid dream.  I’m not much of a dreamer, but for some reason, this dream was so vivid and clear.  I could remember the details and emotions elicited by the dream like I was there experiencing it first hand.  From past posts I’ve shared, I like to run.  In this dream, I had trained and prepared for a race.

I remember being in a car driving to the race, trying to get there, but something was always getting in the way–traffic, crowds, roadblocks.  I remember feeling anxious thinking I wasn’t going to make the start of the race.  Then the race started and I wasn’t at the start line.  The crowds of runners passed by me.  Feelings of disappointment and failure rummaged through my heart as I watched the runners pass me. I had prepared and trained for a race I could only watch and not participate in.  Every which way I turned, every time I tried, something got in my way to prevent me from getting to the start line.

After I awoke from my dream, I felt like I failed (nice way to start the day).  I felt the devastation of not completing the race, thinking what does all this mean?  I spent time in prayer asking God the meaning of the dream and heard his gentle response.  He asked me a very simple question, “Are you going to continue to focus on your stumbling blocks or allow me to take care of them?”  “Focus on my purpose for you, I will take care of your stumbling blocks.”

God was right.  At the time of this dream, I was a hot mess.  I was in an ugly rut of taking matters into my own hands, trying to handle things my way, amplifying the stumbling blocks that laid before me.  God was trying to show me, my struggles, my inadequacies, my unbelief will always keep me away from His purpose for me.  Focusing on my struggles making them bigger than God will always take me out of the race, not allowing me to participate and worse yet not finish.

When we live in God's purpose for us, it doesn't matter what struggles or obstacles lie in front of us, if it is His will, He will move them. Click To Tweet

At the time of my dream, I was studying the book of Nehemiah.  If you haven’t read Nehemiah, it is such a wonderful reminder of what God can do when we discover and live in His purpose.  God chose Nehemiah to carry out what He had promised to Abraham.  The Jewish people spent many years in exile and now it was time for God to come through with His promise for restoration of Jerusalem, their holy city.

Nehemiah’s heart was broken when he received news his people (The Jews) were in great trouble and the wall of Jerusalem was broken down.  Once Nehemiah heard of the turmoil, his burning desire to help his people became the sole purpose of his existence.  Two qualities I admire most in Nehemiah were his wise, decisive leadership skills to lead people in the hard work of completing the wall and his prayerful heart.

Before taking on this task of rebuilding this massive wall, Nehemiah devoted four whole months in prayer, praying and fasting before taking action!  Once the four months was over, it only took 52 days to rebuild the wall!  What is so amazing about this task, about 60 years prior Jerusalem’s wall was destroyed and rebuilt which took 20 years to rebuild!

What was the difference?

In both occurrences of the wall, there were obstacles, inward and outward oppression getting in the way of God’s purpose of rebuilding the wall.

Neh. 2:10-  There were enemies getting in the way of rebuilding the wall

Neh.  4:10-11 There was doubt, discouragement, laziness, and fear

Neh. 5:1-5-  The Jews and their families were being exploited as slaves

Neh. 6:1-8- There was an evil conspiracy plotted against Nehemiah to lure him away from the wall

Neh. 6:10-14- Lying prophets tryied to tempt Nehemiah to sin

Nehemiah 6:9 'For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, 'Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.' But now, O God, strengthen my hands.'Click To Tweet

Nehemiah was successfully able to complete the task of finishing the wall because He stayed in prayer and focused on God’s purpose, not the obstacles.

Our obstacles will always prevent us from finishing the race.  Satan will throw obstacles in our path to prevent us from living in God’s purpose for us, to keep us from His plan because He knows God’s ways are greater and better than anything we could ever imagine.

When our focus is on what God is able to do, God will move our obstacles out of the way.Click To Tweet

We have a choice– Focus on our problems or Focus on God’s purpose.

Nehemiah never lost sight of completing the wall WITH God not FOR God.  He stayed in prayer and asked for God’s wisdom never faltering from His purpose.  Our struggles, our unbelief, our doubts, our past, and insecurities will always keep us away from God’s purpose.  We can choose to amplify our struggles or allow it to be God’s platform for what he’s able to do.

What is your focus?

Do obstacles get in the way of God’s purpose for you?

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My Hiding Place

Do you have a hiding place?  A place you like to retreat to?  To get some peace and quiet? To be able to decompress?  Process things?  Or just get away?

I have a hiding place that doesn’t seem like much of a hiding place.  It’s a place I always seem to come back to and find hard to stay away from.  It doesn’t seem like much of a retreat and yet I always come back to it.  Busyness.

Why do I keep coming to this place?  I constantly struggle with making my no, be no and my yes be yes.  I struggle with the balance of just because I can doesn’t mean I should.  I struggle with my heart being pulled in a million different places and where I should prioritize being present.  I constantly allow myself to be reeled back into this place time and time again.  The only thing I accomplish in the end is the feeling of not being able to accomplish the task well, weariness and guilty for spending valuable time away from the ones I love.

Why do I do this?

It’s who I am.  According to my Enneagram personality test, I’m a reformer by nature and have a desire to change the world.  I’m also a helper, who likes to help others at the expense of neglecting the needs of myself or my family.  Busyness also keeps me from dealing with the core issue of who I am–my perfectionism.  If I had a conversation with you, worked on a project, or been allotted a task I’m going to analyze how I could have improved the situation relentlessly in my head over and over.  It becomes tiring and quite defeating not living up to these always changing expectations.

When is it ever good enough?

At some point I just need to be okay with how things are, and accept it's enough.Click To Tweet

So how can I prevent getting into the tangled web of busyness?

Before I say yes to anything, I need to consult with God and my husband FIRST.  Because really when I say yes to something I’m really saying no to my family.  I need to spend time in prayer asking God, is this how I can make the most impact right now?  Is this how I should be spending the time you have given me?

My story reminds me of the Mary and Martha.  Whenever a guest comes to visit your home, there are so many preparations and tasks needed to be done before their arrival, especially if Jesus is your guest!  Jesus came to their home.  While Martha was distracted by all the preparations for their guest, Mary sat at Jesus’s feet and listened to what he had to say.  Martha became annoyed at Mary and said to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!”  (Luke 10:40).  

Jesus responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed–or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”. (Luke 10:41-42).

I’ve asked myself would I have responded like Mary or Martha?  I want to say I would have sat at Jesus’s feet listening to every word He had to say, blocking out any distraction focusing on what was most important at that moment–Jesus.  But being the reformer, helper I am, I know I would have been distracted like Martha, missing the very point of Jesus’s visit–to be with Him.

Over the years It has become easier the more time I spend with God, discerning his voice over what I need to do and not do.  But if I’m not careful can fall into the trap of busyness once again missing the very essence of God’s desire for me–His purpose.

My value and worth aren’t comprised of how much I accomplish, but in who God says I am and His purpose for me.  There will always be another task to accomplish, but if I lose focus of God’s purpose for me then all is lost.  The biggest obstacle I can be aware of is if life starts to get chaotic, then probably I let my balance off of being more performance driven than purpose driven.

I will never regret when I make a choice in Jesus name in the direction of God’s purpose for me.  I will never say I wish I performed more tasks.  I will never say I wish I had more time to do more.  I will always regret not spending enough time where my time is needed most with my family or I didn’t get the rest I needed.

Do you struggle with busyness or distractions?

I want to be attentive to what God desires for me and not distracted by where the world wants to take me.  God’s purpose will eternally satisfy more than any highly successful performance ever will.

Where is your hiding place?

Who do you relate most to Mary or Martha?

Prayer-  Lord help me please guard my time, protect the time our family has together.  Help me find rest in you and not my hiding place.  Help my no be no and yes be yes and not feel bad about it!  Help me be present, not go before you and be released from the burden of how I can always do things better.  I love you Lord, trust in who you are, you’re promises and love.  Thank you for keeping me balanced and grounded.  I love you, God, in Jesus name, Amen.

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Failures Don’t Define Us

Have you ever failed something?  Not just a little failure, but a big failure that defined the course of your life?  I’ve shared in other posts the failure that changed my perspective was when I failed my nursing boards.  But what if you have a constant failure in your life one you have to deal with every day?

I’ve shared before about our daughter Brooklyn who has dyslexia which there is no cure.  She will have dyslexia for the rest of her life.  Every day she’s reminded of her inability to interpret text when she’s asked to read something.  Her deficits and inadequacies are amplified every time she’s asked to spell a word.  I can’t imagine what she goes through on a daily basis fighting the battle within thinking she’s not smart and not capable to do what others can do.

As a mother, I have a choice in how to treat my daughter and my daughter has a choice in how she will respond.  Will, I treat her that she has a disability and allow her to use it as a crutch to make excuses for why she can’t?  Or will I show her I believe in her and give her the skills she needs so she can run?

Many of us believe the lie, our failures define us and hold us back from our future.  

Praise God we serve a God who is bigger and is able.  

We are more than our past failures.  We are more than our weakest link.  God uses our weakest traits as a catalyst to propel us towards his greatest plans.  Our weaknesses are not an excuse to go through life walking with a limp, but an opportunity to learn how to overcome and grow stronger for what God has in store for us.

Our failures don’t define us, God’s truth does.

I am always so amazed how God uses the unlikely to carry out His almighty plan.  He doesn’t use the strongest, the wisest or even the most powerful to carry out His plans.  Instead, he used a little shepherd boy named David, a young teenager named Jeremiah and a man with a stuttering problem named Moses.

When you are chosen, you can’t run or hide from God’s choice.  God sees so much more in us than we will ever see in ourselves.  When God chose Moses to go before Pharaoh, Moses wasn’t so sure.

Exodus 4:10 “And Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord.  I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant.  I am slow of speech and tongue.”

I love God’s response to Moses.

Exodus 4:11-13 “The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute?  Who gives them sight or makes them blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

God didn’t say to Moses, ‘you know you’re right, my plan is never going to work because you don’t have the skills to be a great leader.’  Instead, God reminds Moses, who made you and gave you the ability to hear and see?

We may feel deficient.  Not adequate.  Not prepared.  But God will never ask us to go somewhere without equipping us with the skills we need to accomplish what he is asking of us.  The tasks God asks may be hard and difficult.  They may even seem impossible, but God is bigger.

Jesus reminds us inLuke 18:27, 'What is impossible with man is possible with God.'Click To Tweet

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. “

When Moses went before Pharaoh, he had already provided a way and means to communicate to Pharaoh, his brother Aaron.  He provided the words and the details of what to do.  Moses was merely God’s vessel and needed his obedience.  Moses had no idea how everything was going to turn out, but God did.

I can’t always be there advocating for my daughter in what she needs to succeed, but with tutors, teachers and a strong support system, we are going to give her the skills so she can fly.  I never want her dyslexia to be a stumbling block and reason why she can’t but the reason why she overcomes and succeeds.

 

Just because my daughter has dyslexia doesn’t mean she’s deficient.

Just because Moses had a stuttering problem didn’t mean he was incapable.

2 Corinthians 3:4-5, 'Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves, but our competence comes from God.' Click To Tweet

Where we fall short, God makes up for our deficiencies and accomplishes His greatest plans through us.

We have two choices.  Allow the limitations of our deficits to confine us and stay in cycles of brokenness or allow God to use our deficits to refine us and move forward in His plans for us.

Do you believe God is bigger?

How will you allow your deficits to impact you? To confine or refine?

Has God helped you do the impossible?

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You Are Not Qualified

Have you ever had someone tell you, you’re not qualified? You don’t measure up?

For many years I ashamed to say, I had believed this very lie about myself.  Unfortunately, at the impressionable age of 13, I had a teacher tell me something very similar. One day in front of the entire class she had me stand up and spoke these words to me, “You’ll never amount to anything in life but a hairdresser.” And then the entire class proceeded to laugh at me. In that very moment, a lie was born.

From that point forward I believed, I’ll never amount to anything. I’ll never measure up. I’m inadequate, I’ll never be enough.  Personally, I have nothing against hairdressers, they make a very good living. However, it was the “You’ll never amount to anything” part that hurt. From that moment on, I believed a lie. I wasn’t smart, I could never achieve what other people could, all from words spoken probably from a teacher who had been hurt in life and was just taking it out on me. But at the age of 13, I was just discovering who I was. At that time I needed a teacher who believed in me, to build me up, not tear me down and crush my spirit.

I am sure the teacher that day was looking

at me from the outside, never bothering to get to know who I really was.  Her words labeled me as a ditzy girl for the rest of my middle school through high school years. I may have not always thought about what I said before I said it. I may not have come across as the most intelligent person. But that doesn’t give someone the liberty to tear them down or crush their spirit at the expense of gaining a laugh and potentially changing the trajectory of someone’s path.

Proverbs 18:20 NLT The tongue can bring death or life.

Our words have the ability to either bring life or death to another. How will we choose to use our words? To build or destroy?

Those words, sadly, paved a path of what others thought of me and they treated me as such. Looking back it didn’t matter what others thought of me. It only mattered what God thought of me. But thankfully God gave me a strong-willed spirit. Those words stirred something deep in my soul, that said, “I’ll show her.” Those words made me try harder, and more determined I wasn’t going to fail.

The human faulted flesh of mine would love to look that teacher up and give her a long list of all of my worldly successes. I would love to tell her how I exceeded well beyond her limited view of me and shame on her for picking on a kid!

I learned something very powerful from all of this. Just because a teacher said something about me, someone I trusted or valued as an authority figure doesn’t mean it’s the truth.

What she said may have been true—I’ll never measure up. But it wasn’t the truth.

It may be true I’ll never measure up to what the world says. I’ll never be enough. I’ll never be qualified. I will always be inadequate.

But thankfully I can rest in who God says I am and break free from what the world says I’ll never be. My weaknesses and flaws will never get me to where I need to go, but God’s strength will.

John 8:32 And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.Click To Tweet

By the standards of the world I’ve accomplished

many great things, but none of those compare to what God has accomplished in me. Because of God’s truth, I am set free from the lie I believed so long ago and what the world thinks. I don’t have to carry the chains of my past into my future. I believe who God says I am, the one who created me and knows me best.

I am more than the words the teacher said to me that day, I am who God says I am.

 

Have you ever been told you’ll never measure up?

I wonder if the great leaders in the Bible ever had someone tell them they’d never measure.
Moses had a stuttering and anger problem.
David had an affair and killed a man.
Jonah was stubborn and disobeyed God.
Peter denied Jesus 3 times.

And yet God still used them. We all have our flaws. We all have our inadequacies. Praise God, we can be free in who God says we are.

Listen to You Say sung by Lauren Daigle and be free in who God says you are…..

You say I am loved
You say I am strong
You say I am held
You say I am yours
I believe what you say of me……..

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The Truth About Picky People

The other day my son was hungry and wanted a snack.  We had just been the store and bought bulk size snacks for kids’ lunches for times like these.  I started to give my son options for what snacks he could eat.  As I ran through the list of 4 or 5 options, he said “no” and had a reason for why he didn’t want every single one of them, but yet he was hungry.  As a parent, these moments sometimes are frustrating, because when I was a grew up there weren’t 4 to 5 options of snacks to eat.

As a kid….. You get what you get and didn’t throw a fit.  

When did kids receive the right to be so picky?

These snacks were perfectly fine last week, but for some reason this week these snacks didn’t meet his criteria.

Was I the one to blame for his picky palate by providing him with multiple options?

By allowing him to have all of these options was I setting him up for discontentment?

These moments make me question my actions as a parent.  Was I setting the foundation for him to be picky in other areas of his life as well?

This picky culture isn’t so far off from how the Sadducees used to live in the Bible.  The Sadducees were a Jewish party that represented the wealthy and sophisticated.  In Jesus’ time even though this group was small in number they had a strong political and religious influence in Jerusalem.  The Sadducees were the ultimate picky culture.  They picked and chose which truths they wanted to believe and not believe.

“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”  Matthew 3:7

In this passage, John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus.  John the Baptist was calling the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers,” because they wanted to hear and see the message of baptism he was teaching, but thought the message didn’t pertain to them.  John was preaching about repentance, a deliberate turning away from sins in order to be forgiven and receive the righteousness of God.  He was teaching everyone needed to repent and be baptized in order to be made new in God and that God always forgave those who repented.

John knew the Sadducees only believed in half-truths.  They only accepted five books of Moses and rejected all other oral traditions (Mark 12:18 footnote).  They didn’t believe in the resurrection or a personal Messiah but held onto to the promise of the Messianic Age a future era where there would be peace, harmony a life without strife or hardship (Acts 4:1, Matt. 3:7 footnote).  They wanted to believe in the promise of life with harmony but didn’t want to walk away from a life of sin.  John actually refused to baptize the Pharisees and Sadducees because he knew they failed to repent (remove sin from their lives).  The Pharisees and Sadducees had one thing in common, they believed their salvation and deliverance was already given to them because of their birthright into the Jewish heritage.

When John asked them “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” he was asking them ‘who told you the Messiah is coming to bring repentance or judgment?’  Did they only want to hear the message when their lives were at stake?

How true is this for our lives as well.

“….I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ”  John 10:10 NIV

Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full.  But somewhere along the way we can get caught up in picking and choose the parts of Jesus we want and don’t want just like the Sadducees. I for one have been guilty.

Have we become a picky society that picks and chooses what we believe?

Do we want the promise of heaven and the crown but not the suffering of the cross? Do we want the promise of the resurrection of our circumstances in our lives but not the sacrifice of Jesus?  Do we believe in the Bible, but only the red letter parts?  Do we want a Savior and God’s grace to be extended in our mistakes but not for him to be Lord over our lives?

Have we become like the Sadducees?

Do we believe in the sanctity of marriage except when times get difficult?  Do we believe in the power of prayer only if God answers our prayers our way in our timing?  Do we believe in preserving our children’s innocence except in times of worldly persecution?  Do we believe attending church is enough to maintain a relationship with God?  Or that God is only loving when things are going well in our lives?

Choosing half-truths for our lives somehow along the way has been substituted for God's truth in our lives. Click To Tweet

By allowing these half-truths in our lives, are we setting the foundation to pick and choose which parts of Jesus we want to accept and not accept?

Living on the slippery slope of choosing what parts of Jesus I want and don’t want is dangerous.  When I am being picky, I am missing out on the greatest blessings Jesus has to offer.  Jesus is meant to live in our lives wholeheartedly, not halfway.  What if there was only the death of Jesus without the resurrection, how meaningless would that be?  Sadly I think this is how many of us live today.  We believe Jesus is our Savior but not that he is able to resurrect our circumstances by being Lord in our lives.  In God all things are possible.

Jesus is the piece that makes us all whole, He completes us.Click To Tweet

He is the source, maker, provider for all our needs. The more we understand who Jesus is and His role in our lives, the more we can understand God’s love for us—the better we can understand our identity in Him and be filled with His fullness. In God, we lack nothing.  Jesus came so we can have life and have it to the full.  The fullness of everything God has to offer is ours already; we just have to open, receive, and allow room for it in our lives.

Can you relate to the Sadducees?  

What half-truths have you substituted for God’s truth in your life?

God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when His word is alive and active in our lives!

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The Message and The Miracle

Have you ever gone through a hard time in your life and questioned is God even there? Or does he even care?

Sometimes I’ve caught myself questioning God and his motives when I’m going through hard times. I question God ‘why is this happening to me? Don’t you even care?’ Then he so tenderly reminds me, yes he does care more than I’ll ever know.

In my struggle I realize I’m not the one waiting on God, he’s the one waiting on me. If I just opened my eyes to see what God is trying to show me, His creations are all around me. He has made the heavens, the earth and everything in it. He has already sent Jesus to die for us.

Do I really need him to show me another sign of what he is capable of doing?

My unbelief and doubt aren’t so far off from the Pharisees and the crowd Jesus fed.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, capture the life of Jesus, his ministry, his death, and resurrection. Each gospel captures Jesus’ messages and miracles he performed. Jesus didn’t perform a miracle without there being a deeper message at hand. When a person reads the gospels one will see the pattern of a message then a miracle, a message then a miracle. When we look deeper, we can see this message and miracle pattern in our lives as well.

In the gospel of John 6, Jesus had just performed the miracle of feeding 5,000 people from only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. The crowd was amazed at this miraculous sign that Jesus did. After performing this miracle, Jesus withdrew from the crowd knowing the crowd intended to make him their king. The crowd then went looking for Jesus in Capernaum.

When the crowd finds Jesus, he then says, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him and the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:26-27)

Jesus knew their hearts already. They weren’t looking for a Messiah, the one who could give them eternal life, they were looking for another miracle.

John 6:30 says, “So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?”

Can you even imagine asking Jesus, ‘what else can you do before we believe you?’ It didn’t matter the crowd had just witnessed Jesus miraculously feed a crowd of 5,000 people with just some loaves of bread and fish, the people wanted more.

The crowd didn’t need more proof of Jesus’ abilities, they needed more faith.Click To Tweet

The same scenario happened with the Pharisees after Jesus fed the four thousand people. Afterward the Pharisees questioned Jesus. They wanted to test him and asked him for a sign from heaven.

Jesus sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it” (Mark 8:12).

How many times have we been guilty of this as well?

There are signs all around us that God is with us and cares about our struggles, yet we search for God to prove his divine authority by performing miraculous signs.

In both scenarios, Jesus did not perform another miracle when they demanded it because they lacked faith. Their request for a miracle came from unbelief (Mark 8:11 footnote). God doesn’t need to prove his abilities he is able. There is evidence all around us of his divine abilities.

Do we really need more proof or more faith?Click To Tweet
What greater sign do we need from God that he can handle our trials and struggles that he hasn’t already done for us?Click To Tweet

Do we seek God like the Pharisees and crowd does, only searching for the next miracle? Are we missing the point as well?

Our relationship with God goes deeper than him supplying for all of our needs and making sure everything is good in our lives all the time. Our relationship with God is more than just a good feeling that is temporary. Our relationship with God is eternal and everlasting.

Behind every miracle lies a deeper message.Click To Tweet

What do you seek God for? To perform another miracle? Or to be your Messiah who has come to give you life?

Searching for a miracle from God without faith is like a person telling a horse to move without ears. Faith without action is dead. Seeking a miracle without receiving God’s deeper message is like sending Jesus to die for us without the resurrection. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the greatest message and miracle ever.

Jesus’ death would be pointless if there wasn’t a resurrection. Jesus was preparing the hearts of people to have faith in him was going to require believing in the unseen of what God could do.

Matthew 17:20, “Because you have so little faith. 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.”

We only need faith the size of a mustard seed for God to move the mountains in our life.Click To Tweet

Do you believe our faith in God leads to life’s biggest miracles?

Do you see the pattern of a message then a miracle in your life?

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10). Have a blessed week!

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The Power of God’s Word

I will never forget the first time I opened my Bible to read for the first time.  I didn’t know where to start or what to read.  I felt overwhelmed and lost.  There were so many words and pages.  How did I even begin?  

Once I opened the Scriptures and started reading, a whole new world was open for me.  At times I put prayer and reading the Bible on the back burner.  I let life get the best of me.  I was distracted by everything the world offered me.  The truth is, I’ve been a Christian my whole life and didn’t truly see the value in opening up the Scriptures and reading them until brokenness entered my life.

Nothing makes a person examine their priorities more than when tragedy enters their life. Click To Tweet

Tragedy makes us listen and pay attention.  My brokenness exposed what was I really filling my life with?  What was the meaning and purpose of my life?

The words on the pages of my Bible took on a whole new meaning in my life once tragedy got my attention.  The Bible verses I read became living and breathing in my life.  Opening the Scriptures is where I really met Jesus.  I began to see all of God’s promises, His heart, and character. I realized His words aren’t meant to stay on the pages of the Bible but be made alive in us.  His words are what transform our hearts, minds, and lives.  

I was always so impressed by people who could memorize and recite scripture like it was second nature.  Somehow along the way, I became one of those people, because God’s words became engraved in my heart.  I became hungry and thirsty for more.

From the beginning of time God’s Word has existed and speaks life into our lives.Click To Tweet

God’s words became light.  

And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.  God saw that the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light day and the darkness he called night.  And there was evening and there was morning—the first day.”  Genesis 1:3-5

God’s words became life.  

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures, according to their kinds:  livestock, creatures that move along the ground and wild animals each according to its kind.”  Genesis 1:24

God’s word became flesh.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

God’s words heal the broken-hearted.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3

God’s words transform hearts and lives.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from  your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezekiel 36:26

God’s words feed and nourish our souls.  

“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven;  if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;  and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”  John 6:51

God’s words are eternal.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”  John 1:1-4

God is The Word and The Word is God (John1:1).  God’s word cannot be changed.  They are eternal and everlasting.  His words sustain us and give us life.  God’s word speaks truth and life into our lives and have existed from the beginning of time.  Wherever we are in life we can always meet Jesus right where we are by opening up the Scriptures. 

His Word is perfect.  His Word will guide us.  His Word provides for all of our needs.  

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

His Word completes us.  In God, we lack nothing!

How has reading the Bible changed your life?

Do you struggle with making time to read your Bible?

Do God’s Words speak life into your life?

Nothing opens our hearts more than an open Bible.  Staying in God’s word transforms hearts and lives.  Open your Bible and discover God’s truth and love for you!  Join the Bible reading plan and get started!    

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are.  In Him, we will have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10).  Have a blessed week!

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Confessions From a Checkbox Christian

Have you ever believed something your whole life and wondered, do I believe what I believe because I believe it or because that is what I’ve been told my whole life?

That is the very question I asked myself when I went away to college and was away from my family for the very first time. I had been a Christian my entire life, but my faith was put to the test when I left home. This was the point in my life was I going to put into practice everything I learned or go along with what the world says I should do? As time went by I found out real fast going along with what the world said I should do got me into trouble. I became more distant from God and wondered why was my life such a mess?

I reflect back upon this time in my life when God was so patient and merciful with me. I can see now how naive I was. In my aimless wandering I became lackadaisical and blind to the realities right in front of me. I came to my senses and realized doing life on my own, without God wasn’t how God designed me.

I started getting back into what I had grown up doing, going to church, praying and periodically reading the Bible. I would have said I was a Christian, but somewhere along the way, my Christianity became more of a routine than it was a relationship with God. Something became lost along the way. I thought by asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior was all I needed to do to maintain a relationship with Him. How wrong I was. I thought by checking off my boxes of going to church, praying and reading my Bible would make me right with God.

Have you ever been caught in the trap of believing your righteousness came from following a bunch of rules?Click To Tweet

What I discovered along the way, was God cared more about the condition of my heart than me externally conforming to His laws. God reminded me, I was just like the Pharisees in the Bible.

The Pharisees were members of an ancient Jewish sect. They strictly observed the traditions and written laws thinking this made them self-righteous, above everyone else. They thought what made them right with God was living by legalism and keeping the written laws by men. In reality, the Pharisees were hypocrites. They honored God with their lips and not their hearts (Mark 7:6).

Wow, Is that how I was living my life, by only honoring God with my lips and not my heart?

The hard answer was, Yes. God desired all of my heart, not to just do what’s right and conform to his laws.  He cares about the condition of our hearts, and I realized I was just going through the motions with a distant heart.  Obeying God’s laws with a distant heart is like a puppet master controlling his puppet. God doesn’t want to control us like puppets, he wants all of our hearts and desires a relationship with us.

The Pharisees believed God’s grace only extended to those who kept his law (Mark 2:16). They didn’t understand why Jesus talked and ate with tax collectors who were considered sinners. Jesus was teaching them there was not a place where God’s grace can’t reach—we are to love sinners, but not the sin.

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men” (Mark 7:8).

The Pharisees were holding on to the traditions of the elders telling them not to associate with ‘unclean’ men who were sinners. Jesus was telling them, God’s commands in the Bible have more authority than traditions of men.  God’s commands (His love) accept and love everyone, not discriminate and condemn.


“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

When I was busy checking off the boxes, living by legalism, I realized there was always going to be another box to check, another rule to follow, or another good deed to accomplish, when was it ever enough to please God?

Living a legalistic life puts the trust in ourselves and not what Jesus did for us. When I was living by legalism, I was putting the hope of salvation upon myself taking God out of the equation. Following all of those rules wasn’t going to get me to heaven—putting my trust and faith in God was.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

In God’s love, we can be set free from checking the boxes.

There will always be another box to check.  The promise of salvation will never come from following a bunch of rules (Galatians 2:21). We are already worthy in God’s eyes don’t have to earn or prove our worth by performing more. If we weren’t worthy, God would have never sent Jesus in the first place.

We receive the righteousness of God through our faith in him.

I realized we become righteous through our faith in Christ, not by anything we do on our own (Philippians 3:9 NLT). Our good works and abiding in God’s commands is a result of His righteousness overflowing from within us—not something we do ourselves.

When I was living by legalism, I was missing out on the beautiful message of the gospel. God’s love transforms hearts and lives. His love is a free gift in which He offers to everyone. No amount of good works could ever repay Jesus for what he has done for us already.

So take the advice from a recovered box checker, you never have to check another box off again when God’s love is living in your heart. Accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior is the key to my salvation and allowing God to have all my heart is the key to transforming hearts and lives.

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10). Have a blessed week!

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A Prayer for Vision

 

Have you ever been so afraid of something it kept you from engaging in life?  It kept you from travel plans, going out with friends or being involved in relationships.  I’ve been there, allowing my fears to linger and build to the point of isolation.  Fear can be so crippling, not allowing us to live life, keeping us from God’s abundant plans.

Faith and fear cannot reside in the same heart.  Fear alters our vision making it difficult to see God’s plan for us.  God never intended for us to live in fear, but to live in the abundance of everything He has to offer.  Today I pray our eyes are opened to see a clearer vision for our lives, the way God sees us.

In 2 Kings 6, there was an ongoing war with the Arameans and Israel.  The king of Aram became infuriated when he learned Elisha the prophet warned the king of Israel of the plan to set his army’s camp by the border of Israel.  Once King Aram’s officials told him where Elisha was, he made plans to capture him.  He sent horses, chariots, and a strong force to surround the city of Dothan ( 2 Kings 6:8-13).

The next morning Elisha’s servant saw the army of horses and chariots surrounding them.  The servant asked, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”  (2 Kings 6:15).

I love this next part.  Elisha’s response wasn’t to engage in his servant’s fears but to give him encouragement and invite him in to see what he saw.

Elisha tells his servant, 'Don't be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them' (2 Kings 6:16). Click To Tweet

Wow, I can’t imagine Elisha’s bold confidence.  His eyes saw the same thing his servant did, yet he did not waver.  His response could have only come from God Himself.  Even though Elisha saw the danger with his physical eyes, he stood firm in God’s divine power of what He is able to do.

Elisha then turned to God in prayer and said, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.”  Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:17).

Elisha’s prayer amazes me.  He didn’t ask God to help save them from the attacking enemy armies, instead asked God to open the eyes of his servant so he could see what Elisha saw.

I would surely think the next thing Elisha would ask God for was protection against the attacking enemy army.  Instead, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.”  God heard Elisha’s prayer and struck them with blindness, as Elisha asked (2 Kings 6:18).

The servant witnessed firsthand the power of Elisha’s prayer for vision.  His eyes were opened to see what God and Elisha saw.  Elisha’s prayer took the focus off of the enemy/fear and prayed a prayer for vision to see God’s divine power more clearly.  We may not always see God’s bigger plan, but He is always at work behind the scenes.

Our own physical vision can limit us to focus on the circumstances that surround us, but God’s vision can free us to focus on His abilities, putting our trust in Him.  We can follow Elisha’s pattern of prayer when we feel our fears caving in.

Elisha’s Vision of Prayer:

  1.  He recognized the enemy’s plan to instill fear.  Instead of being a victim of fear, He put his hope and trust in God’s abilities of what He was able to do.
  2. He turned to God in prayer.  Instead of worrying, He sought God and prayed.
  3. He stood firm in God’s promises, his faith did not waver.

Satan will always try to keep us from God’s plans by instilling fear in us.  Fear will always blind us to God’s presence.  We must recognize the tactics of the enemy, stand firm in God’s promises, seek God in prayer and trust in Him.  The closer we are to God, the more clearly we can see His vision for us and hear His voice.

Are you struggling to see past your circumstances?

Write your own prayer for vision.  Ask God to see what He sees.

Prayer-  Lord Jesus, open our eyes so we can see what you see.  We pray our vision will not blind us to your presence of voice, that we will see and hear what you want us to.  We pray we will stand firm in your promises and trust in your divine power.  You are greater.  We pray your desires will be greater than our desires.  You are our God who loves us more than anything.  We praise you and thank you for your eternal gifts.

I pray for God’s vision in your life to see more clearly what God sees.  You are loved!

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Why We Should Pray For Our Neighbors

Have you ever had one of those neighbors who were just hard to love?  Some years ago, my husband and I had a very humbling experience with one of our neighbors.  We had just moved into our new home and there was a knock at the door.  Behind the door was a woman, who didn’t introduce herself, but instead handed me an envelope and said, ‘give this to the owner’ and then walked away.

Turns out the woman who handed me the envelope was our neighbor.  Inside the envelope was a bill for a few thousand dollars stating we owed her money for our ‘shared’ fence.  We had been the fourth owners of this property and were very confused to be informed we ‘owed’ our neighbor money.  We thought by ignoring the hand-delivered letter we would avoid our neighbor’s request.  We were wrong.

As it turned out, our neighbors were lawyers.  If we didn’t address this issue they would take us to court.  Even in our debacle, I heard God’s voice whisper to me, ‘love your neighbor.’  Technically we didn’t owe them money because of the statute of limitations.  We knew if we didn’t oblige, our time would be spent arguing in court about whether or not we owed them money.

In the end, we gave them money for the fence.  But something happened in the process.  It changed our hearts.  Our decision to love our neighbor instead of arguing with them showed them kindness and softened our hearts.

'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.' Matthew 5:44Click To Tweet

Maybe you don’t have an extreme neighbor situation like we had, but maybe there’s that one neighbor that rubs you the wrong way.  Maybe your neighbors’ dog poops in your yard and doesn’t clean it up.  Maybe they leave the porch lights on that shine into your house all night or maybe they’re just noisy.  We may not always like our neighbors or what they do, but we can always pray for them.

How to Pray for Your Neighbor

Pray your neighbor will know the love of Jesus.  The best way for our neighbors to know the love of Jesus is to introduce ourselves, invite them over, get to know them.  Learn their names, their stories and how you can pray for them.  As you’re driving or walking in the neighborhood pray for neighbors to know the love of Jesus and for opportunities to show them His love.  Col. 3:12, Micah 6:8

Pray for unity in the community.  Pray there will be no division in your neighborhood amongst neighbors.  Pray God’s peace and love will bind you.  Pray there will be love and acceptance even in differences.  There is unity in community.  Do something to bring your neighborhood together–host a community garage sale, organize a neighborhood clean-up, host a neighborhood chili-cookoff, do a neighborhood BBQ in a nearby park.  Practice being a good neighbor, it will bring your neighborhood closer together.  Ecc. 4:9, Rom. 16:17, Rom. 15:7, Col. 1:10

Ask God to help show your neighbor the love of Christ.  God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves in Mark 12:31. Pray Mark 12:30-31, together as a family to love the Lord God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Do something kind for your neighbor–bake banana bread or a meal for them, invite them over for coffee and doughnuts, offer to watch their pet, invite them to church.  No one would ever know the love of Christ if we don’t show them.

Praying for our neighbors softens and changes the attitude of our hearts to be focused on how God wants us to treat others.  Even if we don’t like our neighbors, we can pray for them.  We are meant to live in community with one another.  Being neighborly prepares our hearts to live in the best community ever for when we go to heaven.

God calls us to love those who are hard to love. If we can't love our neighbors how can we be apart of God's family? Click To Tweet

Being a good neighbor fulfills God’s greater plan, strengthens communities and destroys the enemy’s plans for division among us.  We are stronger together.

'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:31Click To Tweet

This summer, reach out to one neighbor, practice the art of neighboring by doing one action step and pray for them.

Do you know who your neighbors are?

How can you pray for your neighbor?

Did you find this post to be encouraging and helpful?  Please share with others who are in need of prayer.  For more encouraging messages, Subscribe to my blog to receive a FREE ebook and weekly message of hope right to your inbox or like my Author Facebook Page. to keep updated on posts.

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