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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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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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The Second Chance That Saved My Life

The Second Chance That Saved My Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Top 3 Most Powerful Influences In Our Life

 

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

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

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

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

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

What Really Influences Us?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What kind of fruit is growing in your life?

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

What Influences Your Life?

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Prayer Changes Everything

“When a believing person prays great things happen.” James 5:16 NCV

Do you believe prayer changes everything?

I admit, there have been times in my prayer life when I’ve prayed but didn’t really believe God was able. I threw prayers up to heaven not truly thinking anything was ever going to change in my life. But then something happens when we pray when we believe God is able.

When we start praying like it matters.

When we focus on His purpose.

God has the power and strength to do anything at any time, anywhere, yet he patiently waits for us in our unbelief. He uses prayer to shape and mold our unbelieving hearts, to make room for what He desires for us.

Our prayers mean so much to God. They move His heart. Imagine our prayers have the ability to move the heavens.

In Matthew 18:19-20 says, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Have you ever had an experience when prayer changed everything?

Many times I’ve believed, God isn’t listening. I have prayed the same prayer for over 20 years and God still hasn’t answered it. Does that mean He doesn’t care or we should stop praying?

God hears our prayers. I believe God cares about what we care about because we are His children. Our persistent consistency gets God’s attention and shows our faithfulness. When we are constant in prayer, God sees what we’re passionate about. He sees what matters to us. A prayer a person has prayed for years is never wasted and will be used in greater ways than we could ever imagine.

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him.” (James 5:13-14)Click To Tweet

We are only one prayer away from the sick being healed. One prayer away from someone else’s breakthrough. One prayer away from lives being changed. One prayer away from God doing the impossible.

Nothing changes when our prayers are silent and when they go unspoken.

Everything changes when we pray.

Sometimes the biggest change that happens when we pray isn’t our situation, it’s our hearts.Click To Tweet

Do you believe prayer changes everything?

Would you like to make a difference with your prayers?

Whatever is important to you.  Whatever concerns you.  Gather two to or more friends to come together and pray about what’s weighing heavy on your heart.  Meet together in numbers, pray consistently with a fervent passion that shows God I’m serious, please hear my prayers.  One of the greatest tragedies is when a prayer goes unspoken.  God will use us to carry out his greatest plans.  God uses our prayers to fill our hearts with what He desires for us.  Our prayers matter and make a difference.  Don’t give up, keep praying with a believing heart. God hears our prayers and is able to accomplish the impossible.

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The Secret to Being Perfect

Summer is here. The sun is shining, kids are out of school, days are filled with relaxing, activities and hopefully vacations.  I love the things we learn from our seasons and vacations we go on.  There’s indigenous wildlife and landscapes we discover in the places we go.  One bird indigenous to Alaska I will never forget is the raven.

These birds live in parking lots and attack trash cans, devouring any food left on the ground. They live up to their name because they are ravenous scavengers that will eat anything. I’ve always wondered why these birds choose to stay during Alaskan winters. If I were a bird I would definitely use the wings God had gave me to fly to warmer temperatures. Even though ravens don’t migrate when the weather gets cold, I don’t think these Alaskan ravens could fly very far even if they had to. They are self-indulgent glutinous birds way too fat to fly anywhere. I have never seen ravens this big ever in my life. These birds may be sleek and shiny on the outside, but their selfish desires hold them captive in the tundra weather as a result.

These Ravens remind me of the Pharisees in the Bible.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26

The Pharisees had a tradition to engage in ceremonial washing of their body before eating, so nothing dirty would enter their bodies. However Jesus was pointing out, the Pharisees were missing the point. What was the point of physically cleaning the outside of their bodies if their hearts were filled with greed and self-indulgence? The Pharisees thought they were perfect because they followed the traditions of men. They were more concerned with keeping the tradition of ceremonial washings then keeping their hearts clean with the righteousness of God.

How true is this for our lives?

Am I like the Pharisee trying to maintain perfection on the outside but really full of un-righteousness on the inside?

I have been guilty of trying to maintain the facade that everything is perfect in my life on the outside by keeping a clean house, car, a perfectly manicured yard, obedient kids, a successful husband the list goes on. Maybe you can relate?

Have you tried to find value and worth through your circumstances like me? Have you tried to seek righteousness in your own works? Truth is I can have everything perfect and neatly organized on the outside but really am falling apart on the inside.

Where is the hope or freedom in my failures?

Is success in life really measured by my performance and how perfect I look from the outside?

There will be times my achievements fail. Times I don’t always get it right.  There will always be another room to clean in my house. There will always be a child’s behavior to correct. There may be times my husband and I don’t get along. There will always be that certain something that doesn’t go as planned.  Does that mean I only receive hope if my circumstances are going well in my life?

Perfectionism and keeping a bunch of rules will never make me righteous or bring me peace or freedomClick To Tweet

I am not perfect.  But I am made perfect in God. Through God’s eyes even when I fall short, He sees me as his perfect workmanship and makes up for my shortcomings (Romans 3:23).

He created and designed all of us with a purpose that is greater than our next performance.

The secret to being perfect isn’t in what we do ourselves with our own strength but in what God can do in us with His strength.Click To Tweet

God cares more about the condition of our hearts than how clean our houses are. His desire is for us to love him with all of our heart, all of our soul and all of our minds” (Matthew 22:37).

Jesus tells the Pharisees, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” Matthew 23:26. He was trying to teach them you will always be held captive by selfish desires and trying to maintain perfectionism. We will always be set free in God’s truth and love for us.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

When I seek God for my righteousness and desires of my heart he shows me “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; our souls knows it very well (Psalm 139:14). Righteousness does not come from ourselves or in anything we do, but from God himself.

“…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—“ (Philippians 3:9).

Our hearts will always find peace in His presence and freedom in His truth.

The next time there are a pile of dishes in your sink, say to yourself, “Bless this mess, because I am made perfect in God!” Thankfully God cares more of how clean my heart is than my sink!

Have you ever met someone and thought wow they have it all together, to only find out they are shattered and broken on the inside?

You never know what someone is going through. Just because their life seems perfect on the inside doesn’t mean it’s true.  Thankfully we have all been saved by his grace.  His grace and purpose are always greater.

“He has saved us and called us to holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”  2 Timothy 1:9

Can you relate to the Pharisees?

Do you allow circumstances to enslave you and determine your happiness?

Have you been victim to performance and perfectionism?

How has God’s truth set you free?

Our circumstances will always change.  God’s truth is eternal and everlasting!  There is hope when we seek our truth and identity in God. You are perfectly perfect in who God says you are. He created you and never makes mistakes. You are perfect!

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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 Lord’s Prayer

 

 

If I were to ask you to recite the Lord’s Prayer whether you are a Christian or non-Christian I bet most of us could recite some lines from this prayer.  In this prayer, Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes my prayer life can become dull like I’m reciting a memorized prayer.  Reciting a prayer from my lips that has no meaning in my heart is like an empty cup waiting to be filled.  An empty cup is not fulfilling its purpose unless it’s filled.  

The purpose of prayer works the same way in our lives.  The Lord’s Prayer was never meant to just be something we memorize but a pattern that we apply to our hearts and lives.  God knows better than us what we need and directs our steps in The Lord’s Prayer.  I encourage you to read this whole article today to develop a powerful pattern of prayer that God desires to bring us the most abundant life ever in Him.

 Worship

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Jesus starts His prayer off by turning to God, His Father.  His prayer begins with showing reverence, respect for our God who is sovereign, omnipotent and creator of all things.  Turning our eyes towards God focuses our attention on his abilities that nothing is too difficult for Him.  Recognizing God for everything He is to us, takes our focus off of ourselves and gives Him the glory, which is a form of worship.

Submission

Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  This part of the prayer puts God’s will first ahead of our own agenda.  Allowing God’s desires to be greater than our desires gets rid of any selfishness or self-centeredness.  God is able to do anything, however, the way God works in our lives isn’t as a genie in a bottle ready to grant our every wish.  If our hearts are filled with things that get in the way of him such as greed, lust or selfishness, we limit God’s power within us.  In order to receive God’s divine power working within us, we must be in places of humbleness and surrender.  Submission prepares our hearts for the next part of the prayer.

Appropriate Requests

Give us this day our daily bread.  This is the part of the prayer is where we ask God for our requests and needs.  This is where we can ask for help for anything we need in our lives such as marriage, parenting, help with finances, provision, relationships.  God’s provision can provide us with anything.  But if our requests are inappropriate such as, ‘God please give me a million dollars,’ He will not grant our requests.  Daily bread is our daily provision of what God offers not what we desire.  When we have the daily bread He provides for us we are eternally satisfied (John 6:35).  When we are content with the daily provision in what God provides us we can forgo the rat race and make do with what He provides.

Confession

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  Asking forgiveness from God purifies our hearts and makes us right before Him.  Our sin and unforgiveness separate us from God.

 Jesus said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”  (Matt. 6:14-15).

Thankfully God is in the healing and restoration business.  He cares about our eternal salvation.  Jesus paid a high price for our sins with his life.  It costs us nothing to forgive but costs us our lives if don’t forgive.  Forgiving someone who hurt you may be the hardest thing you do.  But I promise when you do forgive, you will be set free from the heavy burden of carrying around unforgiveness.  Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full, not so we can be weighed down with our sins and burdens.  Confessing our sins removes the obstacles in our hearts for God’s love to grow within us and cleans out our hearts.

Authority

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  Asking God to protect us from temptation and the evil one recognizes God as the authority in our lives.  This part of the prayer is asking God who is Lord in our lives to direct our steps and keep Satan away from our hearts.  Praying for protection over our hearts is so important to keep the enemy out of our lives and allows victory over our temptations. Deliverance sets us free from our sins, temptations, and strongholds that keep us captive and away from God’s plan in our lives.

Worship

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  The Lord’s prayer not only begins with worship but ends in worship as well.  Ending our prayer by giving thanks to God for all that he does for us acknowledges that He is the God of the heaven and earth.  

The Lord's prayer is a pattern of prayer that gives us the elements of a strong, powerful prayer foundation. Click To Tweet

The Lord’s prayer isn’t meant to be rote memorization but active, alive and breathing in our lives.  We can learn so much from what Jesus teaches us in The Lord’s Prayer.  Prayer can be so powerful in our lives if we use it the way God intended for us.

What have you learned from The Lord’s Prayer?

Write out your own pattern of Prayer of Worship, Submission, Requests, Confession, Authority, and Worship.

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Praying Through the Storms

Have you ever been through a storm of life and asked yourself the question, “When is this going to end?” ‘How am I going to get through this? Or “Why am I even here?’

The storms of life we go through can feel so burdensome, out of control and chaotic.

One scene in the Bible that sticks out in my mind that describes the storms we go through is the scene where the disciples are rocking in the boat with waves crashing and the wind blowing in Matthew. The disciples are scared and looking for a way out of this storm. Then they see what they think is a ghost, who is actually Jesus.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus was walking towards His disciples on the water during the storm instead of just waiting for them on the other side of the lake (Matt. 14:25)?

Before Jesus came to the disciples in the storm, He was asking them to cross the lake in the boat, to literally be on top of the chaos. The Hebrew word for water is Mayim which literally means chaos. The disciples were fearful and wondering how everything was going to play out.

Like the disciples, we may not like being in the chaos, but can be encouraged that Jesus is always with us in the storms (Matt. 14:24-32).

We can be encouraged that Jesus prays for us in our stormsClick To Tweet

“….he came to them, walking on the sea.” Matt. 14:25 ESV

When the disciples were in the boat being tossed by the waves and wind, Jesus was right there with them. He was praying the disciples’ (Rom. 8:34) faith would not waver. Jesus didn’t send the disciples into the storm by themselves, He was experiencing the storm with them (Mark 6:48). God will never push us into a storm and say, ‘see you later, good luck.’ He is always with us.

Jesus will always come to us in our storms of lifeClick To Tweet

“He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.” Matt. 14:29

The disciples became fearful when their focus was on their circumstances—the big waves, the boat rocking, and the harsh winds. Right before Jesus tells Peter get out of the boat and come to Him, Jesus tells the disciples to “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid,” (Matt. 14:27).

We too can get focused on our circumstances, elevating our fears which limits our ability to see Jesus in the storms. Jesus was trying to teach the disciples that both fear and faith cannot reside at the same time in our hearts and will always blind us to His presence.

The very thing the disciples feared (the sea) is the very thing Jesus used to bring them through. He was showing them that even in the chaos of the storm, Jesus is always in control, we just need to trust in Him.

Jesus will see us through our stormsClick To Tweet

“And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” Matt. 14:32

God knows we would never willingly go towards the storm ourselves. He knows what’s best for us and cares for our every need. To pick and choose the parts of life we do and don’t want, is to forfeit God’s greatest blessings. Jesus did not allow Peter or the disciples to sink or drown but showed them what God can do when we have faith.

Imagine what Peter was thinking after he got back into the boat. “I just walked on water with Jesus!” Just think what Peter would have forfeited if he allowed his fears to dictate his response and stayed in the boat. He would have never witnessed first hand what God is able to do when we trust in Him.

When we are going through a storm we can trust….

In our chaos, Jesus is in total control and is always with us.

God has divine authority over all things.

When we are in God’s will, we will always be kept safe in the storms.

We can trust God to take care of us in our storms.

Jesus is the key to eternal peace.

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

We can always trust in His plans.

God will prevail.

Jesus walking towards the disciples in the storm is a physical representation of what he does for us in our everyday lives. He is right there with us we just have to look up and reach out.

In our storms, God prays for us and hears our cries. God desires every single crevice of our hearts—even the broken parts. Even when circumstances look bleak, keep praying through the storms, He will protect us and get us safely through.

Are you going through a storm of life right now?

Do you trust in what God is able to do, to step out of the boat like Peter, reach out your hand and say, “Lord, save me?” (Matt. 14:30)

Prayer- Dear Lord, we know you are the God of peace and maker of all things. Sometimes life can get so hard and burdensome. We pray that we will seek you in our storms and trust in your plans, your ways, and power. We pray we will hold onto your promises when our surrounding circumstances look defeating. We pray our faith will not waver and we will be anchored in the storms. Thank you, Lord, for praying for us and being our God who loves us. We praise you in our storms. In Jesus name. Amen.

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 weekly message of hope right to your inbox or like my Author Facebook Page. to keep updated on posts.

Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 51). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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