Purposeful Faith

Don’t Quit

Don’t give up. Don’t quit in love. Don’t decide God has left you.

And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. (Eph. 1:23)

Christ is filling all things, everywhere with himself. He is filling you! You are alive with Christ (see: Eph. 2:5). You are equipped through Christ. You are empowered with Christ – in you.

“Or do you not realize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cor. 13:5)

If Christ is in you, how can you ever give up  — on you?

You are called to bring the light of Christ everywhere you go. It’s not about you. It is not about yesterday. It is not about your insecurities, inadequacies or inefficiencies. Forget all that. It is all about Jesus. You go and let Him shine.

“Because the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.”—2 Corinthians 4:6-7

The excellency of Jesus, the light of the world, the glory of God, the wonder of His power is reflecting on you, in you and through you. Be not discouraged or dismayed.

Go by faith. Even that you don’t have to fret about. All faith belongs to God anyway. Faith is a gift. He just gives it to you.

Blaze forward. Reflect Jesus everywhere. Touch the poor. Reach out and extend a hand. Be a word of encouragement. Light a fire in a neighbors heart. Pray for the sick. Counsel the weary. But, do not give up.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners (Is. 61:1)

 

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On that Day we Meet Jesus

The other night, I had an odd dream. In it, I accidentally stepped into an area of water next to my house. Like quicksand, the water and mud pulled me under. I was dying.

I know, it sounds morbid, but stick with me. . .

When I was dying, I called out to God, “God, I only hope I was good enough for you.”

When I awoke, I was not only startled by the dream but also shocked at the words I spoke.

It really made me think of my heart, what I think about God, and how it will be to die – to meet Jesus. I have to admit, I was a little shocked to hear myself call out, “I hope I was “enough” for you, Jesus.”

The reality of the gospel is not that ‘I am enough’, but He is enough. In this, I don’t have to – on my final day or today – fear that I am bad, not good, didn’t do things I should have or that I could have done more.

The blessing of Jesus and the price that He paid is that – all His righteousness got put on me. I only need to receive it.

“I am overwhelmed with the joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness.” (Is. 61:10)

He wants me!
He chose me!
He saved me!
It is done.
Finished.
Completed.

When I meet Jesus and Jesus looks at me – I believe, Jesus’ main goal won’t be to search out the worst in me. He’ll be seeing me dressed in salvation, draped in righteousness, full of Christ Jesus. He’ll know me because He knows himself.

Praise be to the lamb who was slain. All glory, honor, power, and strength belongs to you!!!

In this, today, I receive afresh the fact that Jesus saved me, 100% apart from anything I’ve done or anything I will do. In an act of sheer sacrifice, Jesus paid it all for me, so that I could be free of me. I no longer have to worry if I am enough. I’ll never be enough to reach the standard of God, but Jesus is enough for me to reach heaven. Praise God! Jesus is enough! More than enough! He fills in my every gap and then some. He calls me His own. Father calls me daughter. I am adopted. I am free in His love. I am known and in His care. I am saved and kept eternally, forever.

So on that sweet day, when I go, I will — without fear (with God’s help) — run into Jesus’ arms, knowing HE is good enough and that He did enough to save me. Praise God.

How sweet it is to be loved by Jesus. How sweet to be saved. How sweet to let all else fade away and to feel yourself in his glory-filled arms, on that special day.

Prayer: Until then, God, will you give us an intimate knowledge of how much we are saved, loved and enough, in you, so that we can run into your arms on that glorious day, without shame? Will you let us know how much it is all about you, and so little about us? We need your grace, love, and peace to understand. Thank you, Father.

 

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What do they Think of Me?

I wonder what they think of me? How did I do? 

It’s a subtle thought  – but a dangerous one.

How did “I” do? How did “I” appear? 

Whether you are bringing a dish to a sick neighbor in need, giving money to your kid’s school, or spending your time with people in need -there’s one important question to ask yourself:

Am I doing it onto them or unto God?

I can tell if I’m doing it onto them if I:

expect accolades.
look at results.
decide that I did a good job according to how people react.
need feedback.
gain worth based on how I did.

I can also tell if I am doing it unto God if I:

am at peace no matter how things look.
am thankful.
understand that all good things from him.
get my worth from Christ’s acceptance of me.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)

Pride masks itself as a need – to know, to want recognition, to appear a certain way, to have all the answers, to be loved by everyone, to be seen in good light. Humility, on the other hand, let’s all things go to God and understands that anything good, worthy, true, noble and of good report is the working of God anyway. He created it all from the start. He gave it.

A humble person is not “made” or destroyed by results, or even by God’s good gifts. They love the giver of the gifts more than the blessings of the gifts.

Where do you fall?

I’ve fallen to pride too many times to count. If you are there today, let me assure you, you can get right back up again. Ask God to help you remember His faithfulness, how far He has brought you, what He is doing and how He is helping you. Acknowledge both His goodness and your need for Him. Thank Him for His faithfulness. Thank Him that He is the one doing and seeing everything through. Lean on Him in your time of need. He is there for you. He is restoring you.

 

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Small Act of Love, Big Impact

I had never seen such mayhem. I was bumping into people, getting stuck between abandoned grocery carts and making Twister-like moves to reach to simply grab the Arugula. Phew. I did it. I completed my grocery shopping. Or, so I thought. . .

Then, I saw the lines. I’d never seen a grocery store so packed. In fact, it seemed I couldn’t even make it up to the cash register. People-after-people, cart-after-cart passed by me, blocking my way. Plus, the lines were so long, there was nowhere to go. No one even noticed that I also needed to pass by and to make it into a line.

In these kinds of situations, I usually resolve to stay calm and to not be bothered. But, my annoyance level was rising. I didn’t know if I’d ever make it home.

Yet, one man, in the passing line in front of me, actually saw me. He stopped, and said, “You. Go ahead of me.”

I laughed, and said, “It’s like a highway of carts in front of me.” He laughed too.

And, I made my way. I got to where I needed to go.

Sometimes, I think we forget how much of an impact we can have on others when we say, “You. Go ahead.”

Or, “You. I see what you need and it’s an honor to provide it.”
Or, “You. You count.”
Or, “You. I see what you are doing.”
Or, “You. I appreciate you.”

Then, people breakthrough. They get somewhere. To see the unseen, is to bless them and to provide them with new hope, new life.

This man stopped in his tracks to make a way for me. His super-simple act touched me. Where no one else could see me – he did.

“Do not be selfish. .  . Be humble, thinking of the interest of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others and what they are doing.” (Phil. 2:3-4)

How can you practically do this? Ask people simple questions – How are you (for real)? How can I help you? What are you passionate about? How can I support you? What can I give to you?  

Doing this may change, impact or influence someone’s life, forever. Never negate your ability to change someone’s life.

When I waited in that grocery line, I couldn’t stop thinking of this man and what He did. So much so, I kept sneaking a look at him in the grocery line. While everyone else was frazzled, he had a smile on his face. I knew why.

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DO NOT FEAR

There is no fear in Christ’s love. Today, I feel strongly that scripture explains all this better than I can. No matter what you face, His love is enough to save you. His strength is enough to deliver you. His Word is enough to encourage you. His life is enough to compel you. His goodness is enough to believe in. Take faith, and enjoy Psalm 27.

I love you all.

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me
to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.

Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.

For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.

Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.

Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.

Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

 

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3 Ways to Speak Life Into Others

“What’s wrong with you?”
“Why can’t you be better?”
“Why do you always?”

If you are a mom or dad, you’ve probably spoken a statement you’ve regretted. We’ve all been there.

I’m not one to critique; I’ve said some pretty horrible things to my husband, like:

“You always. . . ”
“Why don’t you ever. . . ”
Plus, some unmentionable statements spoken under my breath (which I won’t get into).

I’m not proud of this. Why? Because words reflect one’s heart.

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” (Mt. 15:18)

My words don’t only damage others, they damage me. Untimed and uncontrolled words cause arguments, frustration, anger, irritation, bitterness, strife, worry, restlessness, anxiety, divorce, job loss, court losses. . . (the list goes on).

Plus, when I go about . . . complaining, whining, insulting, attacking, gossiping or faulting someone. . . I never feel good inside. Do you?

I regret my words. But, the hard part is knowing — how to “not say” what I know I “shouldn’t say”. Sometimes my words get out of my mouth before my mind catches up with them.

What is a fast-speaker to do?

THREE VERSES THAT GIVE WISDOM:

ONE: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Col. 4:6

Reflect before responding. Consider: How might Jesus respond? What might God want this person to know? How can I speak truth full of overflowing love (you have to really check your motives on this one)?

TWO: “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” Prov. 15:4

Our words make or break people. They give life or steal life. Before you speak, ask yourself: Is what I am going to say life-adding or depleting? Will it produce blessing or increase fear? Not every story needs to be told. Not every detail needs to be divulged.

THREE: “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” (Prov. 21:23)

It is a matter of a wise woman to pause before she speaks. If it is not holy, righteous, of good report, worthy or true, shut-eth the trap-eth.  Ask God what He wants you to say. Then, respond-eth accordingly.

Along the way, extend yourself grace. Remember, if you spew some horrible-blahness on someone and you didn’t mean to — thanks to Jesus, your mistakes become investments in learning. Be sure to learn from the lesson and develop a plan to speak more wisely next time. If you change your words, you will change other’s lives. Be an encourager, a blesser, a visionary, a hope-filled friend, a source of life and someone people can trust in. Test it out and let me know how it goes.

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Are You Experiencing A Dry Season?

Are you going through a dry season?

Maybe you are waiting for God’s help with your health, with your children, with your work situation or within your household. . . Maybe you’ve been calling out to God for years. . .  Like an arrow to your heart today, I hope to send you one simple message: don’t lose hope.

God cares for you.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Pet 5:7)

God knows exactly what you are facing.

The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man. (Ps. 33:13)

God is near and hears.

The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth. (Ps. 145:18)

God looks to strengthen those with a heart for Him.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.  (2 Chron. 16:9)

God will provide.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Mt. 6:30)

God will sustain you through whatever you face.

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (Ps. 55:2)

Worry accomplishes nothing; faith trusts God for everything. And sees heavenly results.

“By faith the people passed through the Red Sea…By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Heb. 11:29-34)

Believe, even when you cannot see. Trust, even if you don’t have the way.

I know how hard it can be when it feels the world is falling on you or when you don’t know what to do, but if I’ve learned one thing, it is this: In the long run, God’s plan is always infinitely better than ours.

What we thought looked good, we later learn isn’t so good. What we thought we needed, would actually be our demise. The timing we demanded would have prevented us from going through a door we didn’t even know we’d need to enter.  The people that needed to be involved would be ready just a little bit later. God’s views are so high, He sees the map of all our ways, all the people involved and every outcome. He fashions things for our good and for his glory every time. We can trust Him. He is faithful, true and good.

 

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Making Room for People’s Faults

Whenever she does something – it’s off.

There’s one particular friend who can’t seem to do things exactly right. It’s as though when she buys me a gift, it’s the one color I dislike. When she says she’ll see me soon, she forgets because she “had to run more errands” and shows up 30 minutes late. When she’s trying to be thoughtful, it’s awkward.

Now, issues like this would be fine as an isolated incident, but she always and repeatedly acts this way.

I know her heart, but she lets me down  – even though her intentions are good.

It is easy for me to judge her. And, I have. Her wrong timing. Her wrong words. Her wrong ways.

But, recently, I’ve been wondering if I’ve been wrong?

God says: “Bear with each other . . . ” (Col. 3:13 NIV)

Where God wants us to bear with one other, the enemy wants to tear us apart.

Recently, I started noticing my 7-year old son’s tendency for ungratefulness. I’ll buy him the world and he acts as though I owe it to him. I go out of my way to reverse my car so he can see one particular person that looks like his teacher and he gets upset I didn’t do it fast enough. I make him a special dinner and he hardly notices. He tells me he wanted something different.

I’m like my son. I get ungrateful. I don’t see the good. I want things to cater to me at times.

I repent of this. The reality is, this friend is not perfect, but she’s pursuing relationship as best she can. She has many outstanding characteristics about her. She is giving. She makes time to show up. She goes out of her way to be thoughtful.

I’ve been hard on her. I’ve made a mistake.

I am sorry God. Father, will you help me to see the good in others, before critiquing the bad? Will you help me give thanks for the beauty you’ve created in them, even when it is hard to see?

“Make allowance for each other’s faults . . . ” (Col. 3:13 NLT)

May I make allowance so I can draw closer rather than giving enemy room to drive us apart. Thank you for your help, Father God.

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When Speaking the Truth Hurts

Do you ever find it is hard to share your truth? To be honest with others about what you need, want or desire?

I “get it”. You see, in a couple of weeks, I plan to go to a conference. It will be a long drive there, I’m excited about it. I plan to listen to some podcasts, pray, sing songs and have some time to think about my writing and what God may want to say.  Long drives tend to be a time of reflection, introspection and seeking God.  A time when I can more clearly hear God and understand what He is calling me to do. A time of “breakthrough”.

Well, one day, when hanging out with a friend, I casually mentioned this event to her. Before I knew it, we were kind of planning to go together. I am not entirely sure how it happened. All of a sudden she was riding in my car and staying in my hotel room.

Was this what God wanted? I hadn’t taken a second to consider that.

Upon arriving home from my time with this friend, I told my husband that she was coming with me. He looked at me, head cocked to the side, and said, “Is that what you want? What God wants?  I thought you were taking a solo trip?”

In all my excitement, I forgot to think about God and about what I really wanted. I forgot to think about how much I needed alone time.

It is easy to forget what I need sometimes.

What about you? Do people pull you five steps ahead of where God is? Do feel obligated to take care of others? Do you say yes, when you mean to say no? Do you feel guilty or rude when you stand up for yourself?

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)

I had a hard time calling the friend back. But, I did. I told her that I “needed” this alone time with God and that I was going to drive up alone. I told her “we’d hang out another time soon.”  It was hard. But,  telling her “my truth” was far better than “living a lie” and then being resentful and angry at myself. And missing my alone-time with God.

She took it great. She understood. The whole process of standing up for myself wasn’t as hard as the guilt and fear made it seem. I did it! If I can do it, you can too! You can make God first, by speaking your truth.

 

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Monday Morning Prayer

Father God,

Today, we pause from our normal blog posts, to say thank you.  We pause from the busyness of our morning to honor you and to reconnect with you. We pause our mind to think of you. We set down our schedule to recognize all you’ve given us.

You are worthy of praise.

In the midst of life’s curveballs, you are worthy of praise. When we experience mountaintop successes, you are worthy of praise. When we dive into valley-low places, you are worthy of praise.

In all this, and through every learning, dream, failure, and realization…we say, “Thank you.” You are good and your love endures forever.

Jesus, thank you that you came and died to set us free. Thank you that your love changes us, time and time again. Thank you that by your stripes, and your stripes alone, are we healed.  Thank you that no matter how much the enemy spits at us, we remain covered by grace.

We rest in your mercy. We rest in your love. We rest in your love-equipping power. You are more than able to do all things, at all times, in any way, and we rest in that. This is peace.

Thank you that you love us so much.  You give us the giftings we do not deserve, blessings we could never afford and love unduly warranted. No matter, you rejoice over us with singing.

You want us. You chose us. You call us holy, because of Jesus.

When we truly and deeply think of you, you truly and deeply amaze us.

Your love is overwhelming and your guidance is unparalleled.  May we honor you, every day and in every way. When we feel overwhelmed, may we unwind through surrender and fall into your arms. You always rescue us. Even if we can’t swim; you rescue us. Time and time again. Therefore, we lean not on our own strength, wisdom, power or might. We lean onto you, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. We praise you for the grace that allows us to repent and realize sin. It is a good thing, a life-transforming thing. Anything that draws us nearer to you is — good.

All praises, all glory, all honor, all acclaim to your name. Nothing we can do can add to what you’ve already done. It is finished. Praise!  You did it. You. The Promise Maker, the Promise Keeper, and the Promise Ruler. Everything is in your hands; you have the whole world in your hands. You ARE the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega, the Lion and the Lamb. We entrust ourselves to you. We love you. And you love us. And, for this, we are eternally thankful.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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