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Why Do Wise Men Seek Jesus?

Have you ever been behind the scenes to a concert or TV/movie set? Going behind the scenes really gives a different perspective of what actually goes into producing a live performance or show. You get so much more in-depth information and details about the performance going behind the scenes.

Prophecies in the Bible do the same thing–they give us a behind the scene glimpse of what is to come. The Christmas story is the fulfillment of many prophecies foretelling the birth of our Savior.

In Micah, we learn Jesus would be born in the town of Bethlehem.

In Isaiah, we learn Jesus would be born a king of the line of David and that a child would be born of a virgin.

One of my favorite prophecies of the Christmas story is in Psalms, when we learn Kings would bring him gifts and fall down before him.

Psalm 72:10-11 “The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts. All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.”

Over 2,000 years ago there was a lot going on behind the scenes of The Christmas Story. Baby Jesus had already been born in Bethlehem and the Magi had already set out on their journey following the star that had come from the east (Matthew 2:1-2).

Why do Wise Men Seek Jesus?

The Magi were a group of wise men probably from the area of Persia, who were some of the most intelligent men that existed during their time. They studied astrology, maps, and stars things most of us wouldn’t pay attention to.

Have you ever wondered how did the Magi a group of Gentile men, end up in Jerusalem in search of the king of the Jews?

Matthew 2:1-1 “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him”

According to the prophecy in Psalms, the kings were to come out of Tarshish, a land very far from Jerusalem. They merely had one single star from the east as their beacon to guide them to the location of Jesus.

It makes me wonder, how did the Magi end up in Jerusalem?

Did they have copies of Old Testament Manuscripts and closely follow the prophecies that a star shall come out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel (Num. 24:17)?

Or did they have a revelation from God Himself?

It amazes me the far distance these non-Jewish men traveled, to worship the newborn King of the Jews and how they recognized the star as the announcement of Jesus’s birth.

The Magi’s question, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?” caused the priests and Jewish scholars to provide the answer they were looking for. They referred to the prophecy in Micah, that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem.

Matthew 2:9-10 “….After they went on their way, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star they were overjoyed.”

This star from the east was quite the miracle, now leading them to the actual house where Jesus lived! Contrary to what modern day nativity scenes display, the Magi did not visit baby Jesus in the manger the night he was born. Because of the distance of their travels, they did not arrive until months later.

Matthew 2:11 “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”

In Matthew, we see the prophecy in Psalms being fulfilled–kings will present him gifts, bow down to him and all nations will serve him.

Can you even imagine traveling for months, carrying the weight of these treasures, not really knowing where you’re going and depending on a star for directions? Click To Tweet

The Magi went far lengths to not just offer these gifts to Jesus, but to open them in His presence. These gifts were worthy of a king depicting the picture of what one day will be given to the Messiah. The Magi give us a wonderful example of what distance are we willing to go to worship and give God gifts the way He has given us.

Sometimes I think our intelligence can get in the way of facing our issues honestly.  We can rationalize and think we’re smarter and know best, preventing us from seeing what’s really in front of us.  Not the Magi.  They knew.  They recognized the miracle of the new king.

Even the wisest men were seeking Jesus the new king.Click To Tweet

How do you seek Jesus during Christmas?

What distance would you go to receive God’s gifts?

Has intelligence or wisdom ever gotten in the way of seeking Jesus?

Even wise men need Jesus. I hope you enjoyed behind the scenes of The Christmas Story! May you open the abundant gift God has given you this Christmas, the gift of Jesus! Have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!

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Barbieri, L. A., Jr. (1985). Matthew. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 22). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Jesus Is The King

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

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

Jesus is King

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

Jerusalem had a lot of preparation to do before the arrival of their new king.   The arrival of their new king, meant a new hope for their nation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We don’t have to wait, our king is here.  We can rejoice because, our “Savior has been born!” (Luke 2:11).  He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace!

Is Jesus your King?  If He is type Hallelujah below!

Praying your Christmas will be filled with all of God’s greatness and glory of our king, Amen!

 

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Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur by Thomas Nelson Publishers


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What Are You Most Thankful For?

I love Thanksgiving.  It’s a season for giving thanks, fellowship, serving one another and sharing a meal with each other.  It’s a time we can enjoy each other and share what we are thankful for.

Or maybe it’s not.  Maybe Thanksgiving reveals everything we don’t have and haven’t accomplished.  Thanksgiving may be like a magnifying glass examining the little details of our lives that expose everything we are not.

To cover up our flaws, we assemble the perfect table and meal, making it seem like we have it all together, but really we’re falling apart on the inside.

Can you relate?

What are you Most Thankful For?

Of course, I am thankful for my family, our health and how abundantly blessed we are.  It’s so easy to thank God when things are going well in our lives.  It’s not so easy when they are not.

When things are falling apart and I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread, I am most thankful for Jesus.  I am thankful that even in my messes, I am complete in Jesus.  Even in my suffering, I am blessed.

It’s amazing when Jesus meets us in our messes, our storms, and flaws–He turns them into life’s greatest blessings.

If I never experienced failure, I would never know the deeper meaning of perseverance–How God makes the impossible, possible.

If I never trained for a marathon, I would never have known the power of God’s strength.

If I never went through the loss of our son, I would never experience the deeper meaning of God’s love and His glorious plan that one day we will see him again.

If I never had trials in marriage or as a parent, I would never have realized the value in growing my patience and building a stronger foundation in Jesus.  

To remove our messes, our struggles and flaws are to remove God’s glorious blessings.  


What am I Most Thankful For?  Jesus.  

I am not thankful for my trials but am thankful to have Jesus to walk with me in my trials.

When I struggle, I think of Job.  When his cattle was destroyed he still gave thanks.  When his family was killed he still gave thanks to God.  When his crops were destroyed he gave thanks.  When his health was at stake, he gave thanks.

When everything was taken away from him, he never stopped thanking God.  His thankfulness in his devastation produced a greater blessing he could have ever received than if he focused on everything he didn’t have.

No Jesus + Everything = Nothing.

Jesus + Nothing= Everything

Even when I have nothing, I have everything in Jesus.  There is always something to be thankful for.  I am nothing without Jesus.
  

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thes. 5:18)Click To Tweet

Behind every trial, there is a greater blessing.

When we GIVE THANKS in our trials, it helps us focus on God’s GOODNESS and that His LOVE endures FOREVER.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1)Click To Tweet

A Thanksgiving Prayer-  

THANK YOU, Lord Jesus, not only for our family, our health and the food we will eat this THANKSGIVING But also for our TRIALS we have endured this year.  We are not thankful for our suffering, but thankful that you are good and know what is BEST for US!

THANK YOU for giving us what we NEED not what we WANT.  You Always have the best plans ever!  THANK YOUfor going AHEAD of us and PREPARING  a place for us, even in our STRUGGLES we know this is only our TEMPORARY HOME.

THANK YOU for our circumstances that are beyond our control, they TEACH US to depend and lean on you making us closer to YOU.  THANK YOU for unanswered PRAYERS, they help us to TRUST in you, in your PERFECT PLAN.

THANK YOU for WALKING with US in the fiery furnace.  If you we didn’t have your hand to hold onto we would never know you are ALWAYS with us and will NEVER leave US.  THANK YOU for your FORGIVENESS when we fail and make bad choices.  THANK YOU for your LOVE and ALWAYS being there even in our MESSES.

THANK YOU for our DESPERATE Moments when we feel like we have nothing left, we can always depend on YOUR STRENGTH.  THANK YOU for our roadblocks and detours, they show us that when we follow Jesus, He knows the WAY!

THANK YOU for our failures and losses, they show us there is no greater reward than Jesus.  THANK YOU for your perfect gift of ETERNAL LIFE!  No matter what we go through it does not compare to the glorious reward of HEAVEN when we accept Jesus as our Savior!  THANK YOU for your PERFECT LOVE AND PLAN!  AMEN

What are you Most Thankful For this Thanksgiving?

Do you give thanks despite your trials?

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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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Dear Lord, Even If You Don’t……

Have you ever heard the lyrics to the song “Even If” by Mercy Me?

I know You’re able and I know you can, Save through the fire with your mighty hand, But even if you don’t, My hope is you alone…..

Have you ever felt like these words?  Ever felt like giving up thinking to yourself, what’s the use?  What good is it to do what I’m doing?  Or It’s hopeless, my situation will never change!

Maybe you’ve prayed the same prayer a thousand times and never seen any results.  Or maybe you’ve been on the crazy cycle doing the same thing over and over, not getting anywhere.

In the midst of it all we are never hopeless, we are never powerless when we have the one who is able with us.

Sometimes the road of devastation we walk can seem like an endless road to nowhere but I can promise you these roads of brokenness are always paved with his glory.

Even If you Don’t…….

“On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times.   The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout!”  For the LORD has given you the city!”  (Joshua 6:15-16).

What if God told you I will give you everything you could have ever imagine (and then some)?  How would you respond?  What if He told you, The Promised Land I’ve promised you is right at your fingertips.  But first you must………

Ahhh, there’s always a catch right!?!?  Yes and No.  Last week’s post Letting Go and Letting God addressed Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and wandering the desert for 40 years.  At this point The Israelites had already crossed over the Jordan River and were thinking, ‘Yes! We’ve made it!’  Well not really first they had to face some giants a whole army of them.

So God gives Joshua the instructions to march seven times around the ginormous walls of Jericho for six days.  And then the seventh day march 7 times around!  For six days the Israelites marched in silence until the seventh day.

Can you imagine after marching for 7 days straight in a row their surprise when those walls of Jericho came tumbling down?Click To Tweet

I think I would have been feeling quite tired and weary of marching around a huge city for 7 days straight to see nothing happening.  Not being able to speak and just march in silence day in and day out.  It makes me think how heavy their feet felt, each step they took.  How heavy their hearts felt each day that passed, thinking why must we keep doing this?!?!?

Haven’t we’ve been through enough Lord?!?!?!?

I can’t imagine the thoughts that must have ruminated in their minds as they marched.  What if God doesn’t do what he said he would?  What if God isn’t going to come through?  What if this is all for nothing?

How glorious it must have been to see those walls fall, after enduring everything they had been through year after year and to have the faith to keep on marching!Click To Tweet

Maybe you are running out of fuel and have nothing left.  Maybe you can relate to The Israelites, the trials they endured in the waiting, in the wandering, in the when will this end?!?!  Even in their despair, in the unknowing they kept placing one foot in front of the other and kept on marching.  When they did, they saw God’s amazing plan unfold, the indestructible city of Jericho’s walls fall down.

Have you ever felt like giving up?

Have you ever felt like what you go through is all for nothing?

Every road of brokenness is paved with his glory, we just have to stay on it.  Don’t give up. Whatever road you are on towards healing, restoration, redemption, reconciliation stay on it, it’s so worth it.

Even if you don’t Lord, I know you are good.

Even if you don’t Lord, I know your are faithful and keep your promises.

Even if you don’t Lord, you are still my Maker, My Creator, My God in whom I love and am Thankful for.

Even if you don’t Lord, you are MY God in whom I trust and know your ways are greater and better.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, 

I know you’re able and I know you could just wave my pain away right now and that hurts.  I know that you can see me And have been watching me year after year go through what I’m going through.  I know you have heard every prayer I’ve cried.  Even if you don’t answer my prayer, even if you my sorrow doesn’t subside, I know you are faithful and good. My hope is in you alone, Lord.  Despite what I’m going through I want to believe there’s a better way, a better outcome, you’re glory refined.  I know you don’t need me, but you chose me. I know your way is better, your plans are amazing.  I pray for your unsurpassed peace to supersede in the midst of the chaos, in midst of the pain. When my hope is in you, your glory will arise and make the most beautiful masterpiece ever out of my situation.

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The Jericho Prayer


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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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This is What Happens When We Trust in God’s Power

This is what happens when we trust in God's power

“Don’t just do something, Sit There!” quote anonymous.

One might think this quote is backwards but it is written exactly as it should be.  It captures the essence of someone who is paralyzed by their fears and makes them think I’m powerless, my situation is hopeless.  This is what fear does to us to keep us exactly where we are, to keep us stuck.

Sometimes I don’t think I give God enough credit.  I’ll be honest, there are times I want to dial a miracle or a drive-by request asking God for a miracle only He can do, but not really put in the work in.  I think, ‘wait you want me to be patient and work for that?’  ‘Can’t you just give it to me?’  Well, that’s not exactly how God works.

If it were up to me I’d have a menu of miracles I could access anytime upon request.  ‘God can I have a slay your giant miracle?  Or how about a bringing down the walls of Jericho, that’s a good one.’  Or better yet, a protect me in the fiery furnace or shut the mouths of lion miracle when I need it, just in case.

If it were up to me, I’d want ALL the miracles God could give me, so I didn’t ever have to be uncomfortable.

God's miracles aren't for my own convenience but to display his power through me.Click To Tweet

From the beginning of time, starting with Adam and Eve, if there’s one thing God wants us to do, it’s to TRUST Him.  When we do, our circumstances change drastically and miracles happen.  A previous post I’ve written called Letting Go of the Miracle may sound like these posts contradict one another.  But there’s a difference.  We can put our hope and trust into a miracle that may never happen the way we want it, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t able.

Putting our hope and trust in what He’s able to do, in His divine power, allows our hearts to be freed from our own expectations and desires, allowing for God’s greater plan to happen within us and through us.

This Is What Happens When We Trust in God’s Power

Miracles happen.  The unexplainable.  The unimaginable.  The unexpected.  But let’s be real.  When we put our own expectations of what God’s miracles should be, we limit His infinite power, putting Him in a box, not allowing for His bigger miracles to happen.  When we put a timeline on his miracles, of when WE think he should answer our prayers, we’re bailing on His biggest blessings.

Have you ever been in a situation, looked all around you, saw nothing but defeat, the enemy surrounding you and thought there's no way out, no way my circumstances can be resurrected?Click To Tweet

The Israelites sure had a lot of these moments.  Especially right before they crossed The Red Sea.  The Israelites had just been delivered from being under the reign and rule of Egypt for the past 400 years.  They had endured 11 plagues that included a bloody river, flies, frogs, darkness and hail.  They had seen God’s miracles and provision first hand.

Yet they knew Pharaoh (the ruler of Egypt) and what he was capable of.  I’m sure as they departed for their journey they kept looking back to see when was he going to come back to get us?  The Israelites knew God was going to deliver them, they just never knew HOW.  God had a plan all along.

As they were wandering in the wilderness they were about to be enclosed by the desert and The Red Sea, with no way out.  Then God told Moses, “For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, “They are wandering in the land;  the wilderness has shut them in.  And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD” (Exodus 14:3-4).  

Sounds so crazy that God would harden Pharaoh’s heart, yet once again to come after the Israelites he said could go.  Pharaoh had a big army of over 600 chariots.  Imagine this scene, The Israelites who didn’t have any weapons to defend themselves were standing backed up to The Red Sea, with nowhere to go and their enemies were charging at them.

At this point the Israelites were doubting and said, ‘Wouldn’t it had been better if we just stayed in Egypt, instead of dying here in the wilderness?’ (paraphrase Exodus 14:12).

God says to Moses, “And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots and horsemen.  And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD” (Exodus 14:17)

What the Israelites were failing to see, is God had brought them to this place for His own very specific purpose.  God wasn’t going to take them somewhere, where He couldn’t protect them.

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and  made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.  And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.  The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horseman” (Exodus 14:22-23).

And then the unimaginable happened.  Not only did God provide a way out for the Israelites in their impossible situation, He also destroyed their enemies, the Egyptians!  The very sea that provided their escape was the very sea he used as the downfall of their adversaries, so they could never come after or harm them again!

Here’s the deal.  God would have never delivered the Israelites out of Egypt without providing a way for them to get out.  HOWEVER……… Even though God parted The Red Sea, the Israelites HAD TO WALK THROUGH IT ONE STEP AT A TIME! 

The Key to allowing God’s Miracles to happen is TRUST.

T– Thankful.  Being thankful in our trials, giving God our trust in advance.  It says, I know what I’m going through sucks, but I know God is good and will praise in him in trials no matter what.  There’s always something to be thankful for no matter how bad our situations are.

R– Release it to Him.  Admitting and acknowledging our trials are beyond our control, allows us to give whatever we’re going through to God and allow Him to handle it.

U– Unexpected (allow for it).  When we allow for the unexpected in our lives and stop putting God into a box, expecting the miracle and outcome to be a certain way, we allow for His bigger blessings.

S– Satisfy.  When God is the one who is our ultimate provider of all things and when we believe what He has for me is ENOUGH then we will always be satisfied and abundantly blessed in any situation.

T– Trials.  Our trials, God’s glory.  When we allow for our trials, struggles, heartache, pain, scars of the past, suffering, all to be for God’s glory, we allow for His greater story to be written through us.

You may feel OVERWHELMED by your circumstances right now.  You may feel life is just spinning our of CONTROL.

We are not powerless in our situations.  We have the choice to keep taking ONE STEP AT A TIME.  Don’t try to take on your situation by yourself all at once.  Practice this TRUST acronym.  Start being thankful.  Practice releasing your burden to Him.  Allow for the unexpected.  When we do, we learn even if we have nothing, God is all I need (in him we have everything).

You are loved my friend!

How has trusting in God delivered you from your circumstances?

Has Fear ever paralyzed you?

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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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