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When Unconditional Love is the Outcome

Have you ever had to swallow some hard truth?  A truth so hard to grasp you didn’t want to hold onto it?

When we truthfully sit with hard questions to examine our hearts to search for anything ruminating in the spaces that belong to God–we discover the fears, doubts, worries and anxieties holding us back from the ultimate outcome of receiving His love.

Have you ever been in a place of desperation or despair, wondering are God’s promises and miracles even for real?  When I get to these places of doubt or disappointment I have to take a step back and see what am I holding onto and where am I really placing my hope?

Honestly I’ve been afraid of the truth of what might never will be.  I’ve had to process what’s really God’s will verses my will and ask do they align with one another?

I’ve had to give A LOT of fears and doubts over to God over the years and Trust He know what’s best.  Believe what He has for me is better.  But when you’re in the daily grind and the cycles of brokenness continually perpetuate overtime, you feel like you’re just running on the treadmill and get weary and tired.

3 Ways to Allow Love to Be in the Outcome-

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?  Who may live on your holy mountain?” Psalm 15:1

1. Sit with the Truth by Asking Hard Questions–  Where are we dwelling in pretend world or reality?  Where are we putting our hope and trust?  What do God’s Promises and Miracles mean to me?  Am I really committing to God or tweaking his plan to fit my own conveniences?  Is my way to do things more important than my obedience to God?  Truthfully answering these questions helps empty our hearts of anything getting in the way of receiving God’s love.

My answer-  I think we try to fit God into a box of what we want, demand he does them and then get frustrated when what we ask for doesn’t happen.  I think we can stand on sides of God’s promises and miracles.  One side is doubt and we dwell outside of his miracles thinking they are not for us and will never happen.  The other side of God’s promises/miracles lies entitlement, we want his Promises and Miracles NOW.  And when they don’t happen when we want them to, we become disappointed.  Click here if you missed last month’s post Why we should let go of the miracle.

Are we truly living in his promises and what he's able to do or putting our own expectations on what God can do? Click To Tweet

When we put our hope and trust in God’s outcome, love is always the outcome.  Any other outcome we put our trust in will only be temporary and leads to disappointment every time.

2.  Peel back the labels.  Just because we label or call ourselves Christians or believers doesn’t mean that is the fail safe for our relationship with God.  Labels aren’t our identity or our truth– our identity in Christ is.  We like to claim things over lives and believe we safely fall within this realm of ‘I’m a Christian’ so I’m safe, when in reality we hide behind the labels of false-images, status and accomplishments all the time.

Instead of hiding behind the labels, we need to stand in front of them and say ‘I’m broken and I need Jesus.’  So many of us (me included) want to stay safely protected behind these labels clinging to them like they’re the gospel.  When in reality, we’re clinging to what is comfortable in fear of being shamed, not accepted or condemned for who we really are.

Are we more concerned with our own comforts or God’s glory?

What are we really holding on to?

“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.”  Jonah 2:8

3.  Love Anyway, Embrace the process.  Just because we don’t like our circumstances doesn’t mean we’re defeated or God doesn’t love us.  Any outcome where love is the choice gives power for change.  How do we do this?

When we choose to love knowing we will endure pain but God will use it for his greater good.  When we pray for our enemy, hearts and perspectives change.  When we accept the things we cannot change and surrender them to God, outcomes change.  When reside in what God has for us and accept his plans are good enough, we receive his everlasting grace.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Is God’s grace enough?  When I truly live under the umbrella of God’s truth and grace–Freedom becomes My Reality.  I can CONFIDENTLY say, ‘I’m Free, no chains or anchors here.”  In order to live under the banner of truth and live in the reality of it, we have to release any false pretenses, perceptions, images, identities, labels, disillusioned fears, anxieties, worries, doubts (that’s a lot to release), when we do WE ARE NO LONGER SLAVES TO OUR FEARS and THE ENEMY LOSES ALL POWER OVER US.

The reality is what we’re praying for may never happen the way we want it.  Or maybe what we go through is part of God’s plan to prepare us what we’ve asked for.  We have to release the OUTCOME to God and say, “I’m OK with YOUR OUTCOME God, what YOU have for ME is ENOUGH.”

When we CHOOSE God’s OUTCOME and ALLOW GOD’S OUTCOME for our LIVES, we can trust God’s Love will ALWAYS be apart of the OUTCOME.  In God’s Plans, LOVE is ALWAYS the OUTCOME.

When we choose and accept God’s outcome, we are choosing a life of pain.  No one willingly signs up for this type of life.  We will have trials and heartaches that seem out of control and unbearable.  It is a life that requires complete surrender and dependence on God BUT will be the most eternally rewarding.

Where we receive God's love

Please rest on these nuggets of truth when you’re in situations of relentless turmoil and need to make more room for God’s love in your life.

God’s will, will never take you where His grace cannot protect you.

Every one of God’s plans will have his love in the outcome.

There is freedom and peace when we live under the banner of truth, when we are truthful and honest with ourselves.

We will no longer be slaves to fear when we accept God’s plans and His grace as enough.

We will always regret playing it safe by choosing comfort.  We will Never Regret pursing and following the Will of God.

God’s love ALWAYS Prevails.  

I pray and hope this is a safe place to leave your comments and start a conversation where no one has to fear being judged or condemned.

What is your number one struggle you cling to and haven’t released to God?

Do you trust God’s Outcome is enough for you?

Have you peeled back the labels to see what’s really underneath them?

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I would love to hear from you!  Leave Your Comments Below.   ​In Him,

In case you missed it here is last month’s post Why We Should Let Go of the Miracle


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The Most Amazing Plan Ever Revealed

I’ve been doing a little Bible journaling lately and wanted to share with you one of my Bible journaling entries.

The Most Amazing Plan Ever Revealed

Read Luke 24:13-35.

I can’t imagine what everyone was thinking after the death of Jesus. Even though Jesus foretold of His death and resurrection many times His followers were thinking ‘why did Jesus have to die?’, ‘what now?’ The Jews very much wanted Israel to be redeemed and restored, now that Jesus died, where was the hope?

I love how Jesus reveals His plan in the most unlikely ways. The day Jesus’ tomb was found empty, two men were walking hanging their heads in defeat, wallowing in their despair of Jesus’ death.

As they were discussing the events of Jesus’ death, Jesus himself drew near to them but the men did not recognize him (Luke 24:15-16).  Jesus even asked them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” (Luke 24:17).

These men, prior to Jesus’ death must have spent time with Jesus. According to this verse He is someone they should have recognized, obviously because they were talking about him.

One of the men named Cleopas basically says, “Didn’t you hear?” “Don’t you know the things that have happened?” (Luke 24:18).  Jesus responds to him, “What things?”  Cleopas responds, “You know about Jesus? We were hoping he was our redeemer and would restore Israel.  And now these women said the tomb is empty where he was buried, they saw angels and he’s alive” (paraphrased Luke 24: 19-26)

Isn’t it ironic how Jesus Himself asked the men what were they were talking about even though He already knew? Jesus knew the men were doubting and discouraged and was trying to expose their hearts to the greater plan which had already unfolded.

How patient is Jesus with us? He appeared to these men, walked alongside them and listened to their every word. He could have jumped in front of them to get their attention and said ‘Hi! It’s me! Jesus! The one you’re looking for!’ But that’s not His way. He patiently waited for their response to draw out what was in their hearts and then responded.

Jesus basically said to the men, ‘I’m right here in front of you! You’re a little behind! I sent the women to check out the tomb and an angel to tell you I have risen!’ What other proof do you need?’  He then asks a most profound question.

Wasn’t it necessary that Christ should suffer to enter into his glory?

The men just like everyone were confused probably thinking, ‘huh?’  They saw Jesus suffer and die a brutal death on the cross 3 days earlier and now his body is no where to be found.  The men still did not yet believe Jesus had risen and now they had a stranger telling them wasn’t it necessary Jesus suffered.

Why do you think the men were kept from recognizing him?

Cleopas and his companion, before walking with Jesus were hanging their heads with discouragement focusing on the emptiness of the tomb. Even though they had so much evidence right in front of them they still couldn’t see the victory.  Jesus was challenging the two men, do you only see an empty tomb, that offers no hope? Or do you see the new message of hope, that I have conquered death and have risen?

How many times as believers do we do the same thing? We put our hope in ourselves and the things we see instead of putting our hope and trust in Jesus?

After Jesus had walked with these men almost the entire day, they asked Jesus to stay with them.  The next scene blows my mind.  In verse 30-31, Jesus sat at the table with them, blessed and broke the bread and then the men recognized Jesus.

This scene is very similar to the Last Supper Jesus shared with His disciples. As far as we know from the Scriptures, the disciples were the only ones at the Last Supper and the Apostles were the only other men instructed about the Last Supper.  I love how Jesus chose a common meal, something we do in our everyday lives to reveal Himself!

Can you imagine not only being a witness to Jesus’ resurrection, but also partaking in the Last Supper with Him after He rose from the dead?

Once the eyes of their hearts were opened, then they recognized Jesus.

It makes me wonder in my walk of life, how many times have I walked with Jesus and didn’t even recognize He was right in front of me?

Cleopas and his friend were missing the point until Jesus came along and opened their eyes to see the tomb for what it really was. The empty tomb no longer meant Jesus was dead, but indeed “He had risen!” This changed everything! Jesus didn’t leave Cleopas and his friend until they heard the good news, the new message of the gospel, God’s bigger plan.

This new plan offered an exit plan for their defeat, no longer seeking hope in what they saw or in their circumstances, but one that offered a new hope in what Jesus did for them. This new plan offered a way to leave their brokenness at the cross, leave their unforgiveness in the grave and rise up new with Jesus and walk with Him everyday in victory!

Can you even imagine being a firsthand witness to the most amazing plan ever?  The Resurrection of Jesus!

Even though we didn’t see with our own eyes the resurrections of Jesus, we have first hand accounts of what He did for us in the Bible and why he did it–because He loves us.

Do you believe Jesus died for you?

What is the most amazing plan ever revealed to you?

God’s plans are always greater. Cleopas and his friend thought there was no hope for Israel, oh how wrong they were. You may be going through hard times right now, thinking there is no hope. It may seem God didn’t answer your prayers.  Please know God answers our prayers in bigger ways than we could ever imagine.  If God can resurrect Jesus from the grave after 3 days he can resurrect our circumstances.  You are loved!

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

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3 Ways To Pray For Your Family With Confidence

3 Ways to Pray For Your Family With Confidence

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

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

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

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

3 Ways to Pray for Your Family With CONFIDENCE:

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

Do you know where your family is going?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you believe?

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

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A Love That Transcends All Borders

There are some things in this life that are hard to describe unless they are witnessed firsthand.  I have been a nurse for almost 19 years and have witnessed some of life’s most amazing and devastating moments.  I would like to share with you one of those moments today that has been ingrained forever in my heart.  

This particular day, I had already finished a couple of cases in the operating room.  People who know me, know I wear a cross necklace.  As I entered the room of the next patient, he saw the cross I was wearing around my neck.  Before I had the chance to introduce myself, he held out his hands for me to hold.  He took my hands then said, “Do you believe Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior?”  I said, “Yes.”  It was obvious this patient did not speak much English.  He smiled and said in his broken English, “Then you are my sister.” 

Here was a man (probably of Russian descent) whom I’ve never met before, embracing and proclaiming me to be his sister in Christ before he even knew my name.  

As I was still holding this man’s hand, I responded back to him, “Then you are my brother.”  

What’s so amazing about this moment, it didn’t matter this man could barely speak English. It didn’t matter he didn’t know my name—he didn’t need to.  He only needed to know that I loved and accepted Jesus as my Savior.  We didn’t need to speak the same language to understand God’s love for us.  God’s love is the language the blind can see and the deaf can hear.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 NIVClick To Tweet

This man showed me it doesn’t matter if we are Catholic, Greek or Jewish.  When we accept the love of Jesus, we become the same lineage, united by the blood of Christ which makes us brothers and sisters.  In God’s love, there are no orphans left behind.  It doesn’t matter if we came from a broken home, a perfect home or don’t have a home.  The love of Jesus provides a home for everyone– his love is our home.  We are all apart of God’s one big family when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, adopted by the blood of Christ.

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”  Ephesians 1:5 NLT

Once we are adopted into God’s family, we become new citizens not of this world but of heaven.  

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;”  Philippians 3:20

God’s love is what transforms our hearts and our lives.  

“who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”  Philippians 3:21

My patient recognized I was a part of his family that day because I was wearing my cross.  What if I wasn’t wearing my cross?  How would others recognize we are apart of the same family?

Watching the news, there is so much division and hard to tell who is apart of God’s family because of our differences.  Even in our differences, God’s love is what unites us.  

His grace is what saves us.  When Christ lives in us, his loving kindness overflows from within us, allowing others to see the love of Jesus.  When we give the lovingkindness of God, others will know how much God loves them and in Christ, we are all apart of God’s holy family.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” Phil 4:1

There is no greater love than the love of Jesus.  God could have lived anywhere in the world but he chose to live in our hearts! (author unknown).  You are loved my sister (or brother)!

Are you apart of God’s one big family?

How can we show others we are apart of God’s family?

Nothing unites us and draws us closer to God than when we read scripture together!  It’s not too late!  Join the Bible reading plan. 

Want to tell others how much God loves them? Click Here For Free Valentine Printable Cards with Bible Verses!

 

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

Want to know more about being apart of God’s big family?  Are you my brother or sister in Christ?  Please introduce yourself, I would love to hear from you!    Please Leave Your Comments Below.  Have a Blessed Week!


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The Intimacy of Grace

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

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

What is grace and why do we even need it?

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

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

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

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

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

The answer is simply, because He loves us.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We receive the Intimacy of Grace when:

God pours joy into our pain

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

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

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

Even in our poor choices we receive forgiveness and redemption

We receive his eternal gift of salvation

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

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

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

How close have you been to God’s grace?

Do you believe God’s grace is for you?

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

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!

#ShareFourSomethings

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


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What Do You Give To The One Who Has It ALL?

Have you ever gone Christmas shopping and had a hard time finding a perfect gift for someone who has everything they could ever want?  They are someone special in your life so you want to find that unique gift, that something special, to let them know how much you care.  What do you give to the one who has it all?

The One whom I’m thinking of is God.  He is the Maker and Creator of all things, has all the riches He could ever need, has the largest house and kingdom anyone could ever imagine, and yet there is something He desires more than anything–YOU.

Why would the One who has it all want anything to do with our undeserving, sinful selves?

Because He loves YOU.

This Christmas as we focus on what the meaning of what Christmas is all about, the birth of Jesus, I’m taken back to one Bible verse that says it all.

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

 

I am in awe that God could have chosen to live anywhere in the world, but He chose to become one of us and DWELL among us.  Not to sound funny, but if I were God I would have just stayed in heaven.  He doesn’t need us.  There is nothing we can offer Him that He doesn’t already have, yet He wants us.

There is something so amazing about the places God dwells.  God has made his dwelling place in the light (1 John 1:7), in heaven (Psalms 123:1), in his church (Psalm 9:11), on earth (John 1:14), but his permanent residence where He dwells is within our hearts!  (Ephesians 3:17-19).

I still can’t believe He chooses US to be His dwelling place! Something happens when we become God’s dwelling place.  He becomes our refuge and our umbrella of protection from the evil one.  He becomes our light, our hope, our joy, and freedom.

Psalm 91:9-10 “Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place–the Most High, who is my refuge–no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.”

Maybe you are going through a tough time right now.  Maybe this holiday season doesn’t seem very festive because you lost a loved one, your job or aren’t near family.  Maybe you received a new diagnosis you’re still processing.  Maybe you’ve been distant from God for a long time and don’t know how to get back to Him.

Whatever your circumstance God loves you and cares for you very much. If He didn't He would have never came to earth and dwelled among us. Click To Tweet

Every day God invites us into His presence.  Whether we enter into His presence or not, a door is opened for us to enter.  When we come to Him in prayer we step closer into His presence.  When we praise Him in our storms of life and thank Him despite our struggles we step further through the doorway.  When we open up God’s Word, we allow an opportunity for His Words to dwell richly in us, to plant seeds and grow within us (Colossians 3:16).

So what do you give the ONE who has it ALL?

Your HEART.

God could have anything He every wanted, Lived anywhere he desired, but He chose to live in our hearts. Click To Tweet

Have you given God your heart this Christmas?

What do you give to the One who has it all?

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Mary- A Heart Prepared

 

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

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

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

I Love how God Uses the Unlikely to Carry out His Almighty Plan.

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

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

Mary was just a young peasant girl who was about to be married.  Why would God choose her?  The angel Gabriel tells Mary, “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).  The Greek word for highly favored is charis which means grace.  God had found favor in Mary and bestowed a special honor on her.  God sent an angel to prepare Mary’s heart for God’s greater plan.

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

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

1.  He will be great.  Luke 1:32

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t know about you, but I want a heart like Mary’s.  A heart that is ready to trust and receive God’s promises. Mary’s heart welcomed the angel’s message, by submitting her heart almost immediately after hearing his message!  She didn’t let her doubts or fears get in the way of God’s plan.  She allowed for God’s greater plan to happen through her by submitting her heart to God.  How wise was Mary’s heart to recognize this message could have only come from God Himself.

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

I want a heart like Mary’s.

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

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

I have many times.

May we all have a heart like Mary's, a heart that faithfully responds to His promises. Click To Tweet

This Christmas before we allow busyness and distractions to take us away from the true meaning of Christmas, let’s stop and allow God to prepare our hearts for His greater plan.  There is a fullness of joy when we stay present in the presence of Jesus.  We can rest assured—that His peace will fill our hearts and joy will fill our souls when we allow for God’s greater plan to happen through us.

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

Have you allowed God to Prepare your heart to receive His Promises this Christmas?

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

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

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

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

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

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Praying Like it Counts

Have you ever prayed so hard for a prayer you desired God to answer?

Not just any ordinary prayer haphazardly thrown up to heaven, in hopes God will answer. But praying like you believe God is able to move the mountains. Praying as your life depended upon it.

Maybe you’re praying, for your marriage to be restored, for someone to be healed from a sickness, or for a struggle or temptation to be removed from your life.

Whatever circumstance you’re praying for, do you believe God is able?

One person in the Bible who reminds me what happens when we pray like it counts is Nehemiah. Two main events happen in the book of Nehemiah, the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem and the return of the Jewish exiles, none of which would have happened without prayer.

When Nehemiah heard about the suffering of his people and the destruction of Jerusalem’s walls, his heart was broken.

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel”. Nehemiah 1:4-6

This was not the first time the walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed. They had been rebuilt under the leadership of Ezra in 516 BC which took almost 20 years.

When Nehemiah heard the news the city wall of Jerusalem had been destroyed and his people were in exile, he prayed for an entire 4 months, before making any decisions. After the 4 months of prayer were over the wall was rebuilt in just 52 days.

What was the difference?

  1. Nehemiah didn’t let the knowledge of the previous wall under Ezra’s care deter him from rebuilding the wall.
  2. Nehemiah never lost sight of God’s purpose of doing this WITH God not FOR God. He stayed in prayer to receive God’s mission until the job was done.
  3. Nehemiah’s strong leadership skills- He knew his team. He dealt with noblemen, priests, tradesman, servants, etc. Although they didn’t have the enneagram personality test to determine what everyone’s skill sets were, Nehemiah had wise decisive skills that allowed him to use his team to the best of their abilities. When the complaints and doubts poured in, he put a stop to them before they could undermine the work.
  4. Nehemiah never allowed the obstacles of the wall to be bigger than God. Even though Nehemiah faced a lot of inward and outward opposition during the wall rebuilding, staying in prayer allowed him to discern when someone or something was trying to throw his mission off course.
  5. Nehemiah’s story is a testimony of what God is able to do when we pray like it counts. His fervent prayer was enough to move God’s heart, to help him stay focused on God’s purpose in completing the wall. When we embrace God’s purpose for us, staying focused on his purpose and not our obstacles, God will move our obstacles.

Click To Tweetit, and it will be yours’  Mark 11:24.'” quote=”Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[a]it, and it will be yours’  Mark 11:24.'”]

 

What obstacles are you facing?

Do you believe God is able?

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The Truth About Picky People

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

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

When did kids receive the right to be so picky?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How true is this for our lives as well.

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

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

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

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

Have we become like the Sadducees?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you relate to the Sadducees?  

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

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

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The Message and The Miracle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Behind every miracle lies a deeper message.Click To Tweet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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