Purposeful Faith

Fight Trials Like Jesus

Fight Trials Like Jesus

What if Jesus was ready to redefine the way you endure hardships?
Would you listen?

What if – rather than trying to run from that tsunami of terror,
you were to find some peace as you head into it?

For me, it sounds kind of crazy, because normally when I see trials on the horizon I ball up like a hundred and one rubber bands balled up and ready to break at the same time. My tension is high, my anticipation is big and my worries run fast.

Jesus though, didn’t run from what threatened him, he threatened what tried to make him run.  We may not think of Jesus as an aggravator or a reprimander, but hold tight, because in one way his strategy was just this.

Before we get into that, Jesus teaches us much about resetting our mindset when we are being set up to be torn down.

Here’s how his ways can restructure ours:

People hated Jesus for no reason. Jo. 15:25
He said they will hate us too.

God had the power to save him from suffering through prayer. Mt. 26:42
Prayer is the one door that never closes. When we walk through it we always find God.

His “kingdom did not belong on here.” Jo. 18:36
When we know our true home, we don’t get as concerned when our earthly one gets ransacked.

He had complete authority, always and at every minute. Jo. 19:11
When we know that Jesus is in complete control, suddenly we realize he holds the handle on all that wants to sweep us under.

“I have told you this to make you as completely happy as I am.” Jo. 15:11
If Jesus could find some happiness in the road leading to death, we can too.

Jesus knew he was under control of the one completely in control.

To walk Jesus’ walk, we have to walk, like him, doubtless and faith-full.

I get Jesus’ approach, because every time I let the doubts creep in, the faith creeps out.

The devil said,

“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

The devil challenged Christ’s ability, status and loyalty.

Do you ever feel challenged in doubts of what you can do,
what God can do for you and how he will get you through?

Jesus, doesn’t stick around playing games with these kinds of words, these change agents of faith, instead he fights back by:

1. Using the word of God as his best weapon.
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Mt. 4:4

2. Telling what is bad, what is full of questions about God, to move aside.
Away from me, Satan! Mt. 4:10

3. Knowing who is in control of all control that ever controlled and that will control.
For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Mt. 4:10

When the devil started to show Jesus a way out of the trial, Jesus knew, sometimes the calling is through the fire. He wasn’t going to sit around while his strength was depleted.

Even when the man after God’s own heart, Peter, spoke doubts as he pulled Jesus aside, Jesus spoke: “Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God.” Mk. 8:33

If we think like God, God will help us think in a way where we endure, where we make it, where we aren’t burdened, but blessed by our trials.

He will get us through.
He will hold our hand.
He will fight on our behalf.
He will pave a way to eternity.
He will lead us in all truth.
He will hold us on the pillow of his love.
He will not leave our side.

Let’s fight back like Jesus.

When we do, we will see, like Jesus that:

God is for endurance and the devil is for discouragement.
Doubts pull us away from our mission, yet faith commissions.
The Word of God is the Word that helps.
God’s control, brings our heart under control.

Fight trials like Jesus. Go in his faith. Know that God is with you.

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Letting Go of Control

control

I just read a book. It’s not even on a topic I thought I was struggling with, but good words always tend to find a good home in one ready to receive them.

These words did more than just that; they took my heavy baggage, bent them up and dropped them at my feet in a time-to-let go kind of way (dang, Lord, I wasn’t intending this!).

You see, when baggage breaks, it’s time to dump ’em, toss ’em and be done with ’em. And, now, I can see how messed up my baggage really is; it’s filled with stolen items, things I could only pretend to fully own. Things I tried to make myself believe would always be mine – that I could use to fill my needs.

But, I never owned them to begin with.

What we think is ours, always has and always will
belong to God.

He lends us what we love,
so we can see his love – for us.

What is lent is always called back home sometime, in God’s time.

In my heart, God is calling back the idea that I own my kids, my husband and my dreams – because I don’t. They always have and always will belong to him.

But letting go, feels like letting a dog run without a leash. It’s scary. Risky. Uncertain.

To let go of what I clench, to release my imprints and to undo my harness – it’s not work for the faint of heart. For so long, I have relied on these crutches as my own personal hopes of glory, hidden, but golden tickets to personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

But, what happens, one day, when God decides,
that I can no longer clutch and crutch –
right around his great promises?
What happens then?

Because, you see, something like this could happen: “My son purchased drugs which, combined with a beer later that evening, caused respiratory distress, resulting in death.” (Dance With Jesus, by Susan B. Mead)

What would I do then? When the kid that I supposedly owned, ruled and managed ended up – gone? Would I go down with him? Would my crutches be so swiped out from under me that my face would break in a million little pieces?

I think it might. I don’t know what I would do.

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:21

I suppose I am learning, it is in the taking away, that we often find the praise. At least that’s what happened with Susan, when she lost her son.

She says, “Do I want him back with me? Yes- for a moment. Then I realize how selfish that would be because he is now in Paradise with Jesus.”

Amen, sweet Susan.

Her words knock me in the head. She found her praise as she rose up her hands in abandon to the one who held her most prized possession.

She found her praise – in that. Wow. And, rightfully so, he can take care of her child far greater than she ever could (no offense dear).

He can take care of my family far better than I can too.

The more I let go, the more space my loved ones have to learn HE IS
who I am preach HE IS.

The more I let go, the more they know the great rescuer God,
verses the great rescuer mom, wife, daughter, sister.

The more I let go, the more they see Jesus step in,
rather than my need-based insecurities step up.

Then, people can start to Dance with Jesus – without crutches that limit their movements before a great God who delights in them.

They dance.

And, I dance – as I let my child climb in his seat by himself, as I let my husband make that mistake I know he is about to make, as I see a disaster ready to happen and trust God, as I step back when my kid may take a learning-lesson tumble, as I don’t give the advice a sister really should follow and as I humbly listen to all God’s plans for the main characters in this game called life.

I am free.

To find glory in the death of my goals.
To find renewal in God’s new breath of life.
To find hope outside of my 5-inch working hands.

Where do you need to be freed – to dance? To rely on the gentle guidance of one who cares?

This movement is powerful;
it’s a waltz that follows the lead of a One true God
who we actually believe is the One true God.

Real needs surface, then the rescue happens, but what we find out is that – it was always intended for us.

Finally, our hands open, our praises fly, our hopes belong to him. We no longer have strings attached to others. We cup and offer, and he answers and pulls these hearts even closer to him (whether they be on earth or in heaven).

Why do we let go? Because we love them, but most of all, we love him, we know him, and we trust him. In this, as Susan so vividly pictured in her book, we can let them – and us – dance with Jesus.

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God's miracles

My thoughts on Dance with Jesus: This book transports me to a different time and a different place. It wraps its arms around me to pull me into the life of Susan B. Mead, and boy, does she take me on a ride. The unique and charming characters in this book rally your heart and lure your soul into deep healing, joy and release all at the same time. The miracles of God’s wonder move you from a place grief to relief. Thank you Susan for jump-starting me on the journey of letting go.

 


Putting God Above the Need to Please

Need to Please

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I’ll never forget the sound. It was hundreds of pounds of files and metal crashing down on my three-year-old son but to me it sounded like one thing: disaster.

The impact was followed by the shrill scream of my child. In complete panic I ran from my parents’ kitchen to see him lying there with the filing cabinet on top of him.

With strength I didn’t know I possessed, I lifted the weight from him, consoled him and examined his body. As I wrapped my arms around him my mind repeated the question, “How did this happen?”

Later, when my family discussed the mishap, my husband explained how our son didn’t need to be able to move the entire cabinet on his own. He simply had to put it off balance. Once several drawers came out, it only took a small push to send it toppling over.

So often in life, I am like my son. The drawers are projects, service opportunities and responsibilities, and often I have several pulled out at the same time. My balance gets awry and I need to lighten the load, but instead I take on more.

I put the desire to please others above the gentle nudges from God to rest.

The longer I ignore his promptings the more irritable I become, until I am a frazzled mom and wife with little left to offer anyone other than scraps of time. Like the crashing filing cabinet, I lose all sense of stability. Instead of being intentional with my priorities, I am a mess.

 In Romans, Paul tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV

When I listen to the world instead of that still, small voice, I take on more assignments than I can handle. His love cannot pour out of me because I am a depleted vessel.

God wants to transform our minds so we can discern what he has for us rather than heeding to every tug of those around us. He desires the best for our lives, and is glorified when we use the gifts and abilities he’s given us. Often, this means declining requests for our time so we can spend it where the he wants us to be.

To this people pleaser, the hardest word to tell others is “no.” But often this is the exact word God is asking me to say.

After watching my son over the next day, we were confident he was alright. I uttered praises for God’s protection in a moment which could have been devastating.

The beautiful truth is that those moments when life is reeling and we lose our balance, God can still redeem our time. When we listen to his voice instead of the world’s, he can turn our mistakes into testimonies of his grace.

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*Photo Credit

Guest Contributor

Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.


I am a Lion, Hear Me Roar

I am a Lion

If Jesus was a lion, I don’t know why I spend my life living like such a low-level lanky lamb.

I walk into places forgetting about the word “heroism”. I am the sum, the bottom line and the result of other’s judgements. I forget that the blood of Jesus fills my body and drives my organs, actions and thoughts.

And, yes, while God calls us to be lamb-like
in gentleness and submission,
he also calls us to be lion-like
in devouring the Word of God and running it’s meat far and wide.

The problem arises, when we start living all
unsure and unable and unavailable –
when we start living more like a waiting lamb than a stampeding lion.

An always-lamb can easily turn into a ready-doormat,
an enabling vehicle to sin
or a wishy-washy truth spinner in the face of opposition.

They can turn into a silencer of God’s Word if they are not careful.

“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain… Rev. 5:5-6

The spotless lamb was slain,
so the “root” of courage, the small-time battler,
from the tribe of David could live on.

Do you allow your “small-time battler” to live on?

Often, I don’t:

I am afraid to shine too bright;
I may blind other’s sight.

I live like a runt,
not on the hunt for those starving for Christ Jesus.

Humility is my protector and defender,
because I fear the idea of surrender.

The lowly lamb, who pushes aside the ferocious lion, sometimes creates an easy road.

But, when our less than status, becomes our excuse to lay low, hide out and walk without the need for God’s protective armor, we may have some thinking to do.

Lions were a symbol of power, of force, of might.
They were the loved symbol of the Assyrian Kings, Babylonians and the like.

Adad Nirari II of Assyria (911-891 B.C.) proclaimed, “I am powerful, I am all powerful, I am brilliant, I am lion-brave, I am manly, I am supreme, I am noble.”

Assur-nasir-pal II (883-859 B.C.) confidently declared, “I am lion-brave, and I am heroic! Assur-nasir-pal, the mighty king, the king of Assyria, chosen of Sin, favorite Anu, beloved of Adad, mighty one among the gods, I am the merciless weapon that strikes down the land of his enemies.”

Powerful.
Brilliant.
Brave.
Supreme.
Noble.
Heroic.
Mighty.
Beloved.
A weapon.

I know someone like that. His name is Jesus.

The lion who was, is and always will be.
The one who moved with this intention,
with purpose, with clarity, to save us – and the world.

If there was no lion, no force of courage, no act of bravery –
he likely would not have been the slain lamb.

Jesus was the complete lion.
And now, he has passed the baton.
He was, now we are.

Do we act like it?

God is calling us to it: The wicked person flees when there is no one pursuing, but the righteous person is as confident as a lion. Prov. 28:1

The day of confidence is here.

A day to:

Seek and hear God with the brute force of a long-lost lover.
Walk unabashedly towards others with their real lottery ticket to riches.
Wear Jesus’ love on your sleeve – wear it loud and proud.
Tear down your idols that stand on anything but God’s altars.
Shout what you believe like lyrics at a rock concert.
Wrap your arms around Jesus’ blood-soaked feet at the cross.
Take pride in your noble heritage and inheritance.
Stand out and stand up.

It is a day to be ready to die for the one who died for us.

We  live like a lion, so if that day ever comes, we can die as a lamb.

We are lions – hear us roar, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Heb. 3:16


Getting Past Bad Memories

bad memories

I can’t stop remembering.
I want to, but I can’t.
Already processed words, feelings and hurts remain pressed up in me – concentrated.
Like cars at a landfill, I have squeezed in so much; these memories tower high.

Sure, I want to wave goodbye,
but my mind holds on as if I am losing a long lost friend.

Sure, I want to finally turn my back on the, tears, embarrassment, shame and pain –
but it seems I would negate or excuse all that happened. 

So, I hold on, like one carrying a stinky diaper.
I hold on like one dealing with month-old trash.
I hold on like a 2-year old looking around at who may hit them next.

I keep my stink near, out of fear.

Why?  Yes, I raise my hand, to acknowledge what I am about to tell you is a lie. But it lures me every time.

The Lie:
Tying myself up in yesterday,
will keep my heart from being tied up today.

So, I keep my antennae’s up and out;
threats are analyzed.

My warning bells are working and tested;
safety walls can fly up.

On-demand memories are readily available;
they are the boot camp to my feet, helping me to run as needed.

But, does my strategy even work? Because it seems I spend a lot of time in the landfill – walking over bad waste, smelly pieces and unloved emotions.

I can’t help but ask, does being around the stinky
somehow generate the sacred?

I don’t think so. So, why do I keep doing it?

My delay in demolishing only seems to work in demolishing my heart yet again.

That is what happens to wastelands of bad memories, they only hang out to make things more disgusting.  I don’t want to allow flies to buzz, mold to grow and my heart to grow cold to others because of the garbage that I can’t seem to unload.

The reality is, when I take a hard and fast look:

Reserving these pains doesn’t revive my worth.

Remembering the frustration doesn’t relieve my agony.

Reliving these pinpricks doesn’t reject future hurts.

It just doesn’t. And, God knows it too.

Simply said, he tells us, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” Is. 48:13

I love what comes next even more:

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
The wild beasts will honor me,
    the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
    the people whom I formed for myself. 
that they might declare my praise.
Is. 48:19-21

Notice this: Here, God doesn’t care much about fixing an old thing;
he cares about doing a new thing!

He cares about:

Generating life out of now-dead things.
Making the wild-ones obey and honor him.
Giving water to the souls with holes.
Providing for his chosen people.

When we see past the days of old,
we see the abundance of God.

When we keep our heart in today,
we suddenly step up above the fray.

God wants to give us the essential and the substantial
to fill us with his potential.

Notice the result? It is powerful. God in his wisdom protects our skittish mind from doing what it loves to do best. He prevents us from acting like a pig in a trough – returning to his old stink.

How?
He replaces our precautionary stance with a praised-filled one.

Suddenly our arms move from crossed to open.
Our eyes look from side-to-side, to straight up.
Our heart is laid down at his feet, just trying to inch closer to his goodness, rather than closed up in safety walls.

Our eyes are open to see goodness rather than pain. 
Restoration rather than hardship.
Glory rather than trash.

And, it is beautiful, budding beautiful, sunrise beautiful, springtime beautiful. It captures our eyes with new hopes, new dreams and new what-ifs. It opens up a whole new world – a fresh, exciting and adventurous world.

I guess the choice is mine, it’s ours…
We can choose to sit in the pain of yesterday
or we can choose to sit in the glory of today.

I know which one I am going to pursue.

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2. Guest submissions are open through the end of the month.

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10 Bible Verses: To be Strong in the Lord

Strong in the Lord

Doubts can be giant erasers to faith. What was written on our heart seems to disappear with a small stroke of uncertainty.

Have you ever been there? I have. God just gave me a huge gift, a huge undertaking and a huge blessing; he laid it right out at my feet. It was a dream come true, a once in a blue moon kind of deal, yet the more I looked at this project, the more I started to say, “God, how are you going to do this thing? How are you going to pull it together?”

I need babysitters to accomplish it – and there are none.
Finances to get some help – and there aren’t extras.
Time to accomplish it – and it is depleted.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes,
my lack of good stuff starts to make me think I lack a good God.

I start to see an absent daddy.

Then, mumbling words start to flow:

Where are you God?
Do you really love me?
Are you actually going to help me?
God has better things to do than worry about me.
I better figure this out all on my own.

When we start to see all we have to do,
suddenly we fear what God won’t do,
even though God normally says he can and will do it.

So how do we stay strong and not break to pieces beneath the smiles we have implanted on our faces?

1. We remember the wellspring, the hub, the core – God’s power to provide.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:13

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Is. 40:29

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Ps. 119:28

Imagine. See. Dwell. Reside. Sit. Be. Receive.

2. We go back to the basics.  When we love and hope, we secure our hearts in the tight wrapping of God’s hands. The mark ingrained is strength.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will walk and not grow weary; they will run and not be faint. Is. 40:31

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Pet. 4:8

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 1 Jo. 4:18-19

Sitting in love means sitting in the oceans of Jesus’ perfect blood covering; it washes away insecurities, inadequacies and inabilities. Because he was strong – we can be strong.

3. We remember what we are hoping for in tomorrow, not what we are working for in today.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be crying any more, for the former things have passed away…. (Revelation 21:4,).

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Ps. 16:11

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison 2 Cor. 4:17

When we realize today is but a blip,
we remember that from Jesus’ chalice we will one day sip.

As we remember Him, the glory, the power, the hope and the real purpose and the mission, we will regain our strength to stay steadfast in what he is about to do.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Eph 3:20-21

God is strength.

We grow in him, by being attached to him
– then we realize we can do all things through him.

We become strong in the Lord.

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Learning to Find Rest

Find Rest

My 4-year old son asks me a million questions a minute. Rapid fire, it’s like a barrage of bullets that I feel I can’t dodge sometimes. But, he wants to know, he must know. He won’t quit until he DOES know.

It’s a personal pursuit for him; he is trying to figure out how he fits into this grand ole thing called – the world.

I answer.
He always believes. 
And asks more. 
And is eager. 
Hungry. 
Hopeful. 
Listening. 
Ready.

Willing to learn. Expecting to hear.

My son makes me think…

We love to focus on this verse: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Mt. 11:28-29

We jump up and down when we read this one: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Mt. 11:30

But, we hardly consider the verse just a couple lines above it: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; Mt. 11:25

Could it be that verses are related?

Might we not feel our burden is light,
because we haven’t really established God as our sight?

Perhaps, we haven’t fought after God’s ways like a child would – like my son would.

A child might beg, “What things do I need to learn? How do I do it? Tell me. Tell me. Tell me. Show me too. I want to learn! I want to do it!”

Do we want to learn? Not in a heady, heavy and show-offy sort of way, (like the wise and understanding ones that God hid truth from), but like the hungry, listening, watching and active children that are rambunctious for truth.

God easily hands out rest to those seeking children; they need it – they tire themselves out with their relentless pursuits. He lays them down in the comfort of his safe pastures, under the wings of eagles and in the safe refuge of his mighty tower.

God lets the hungry be full – with his nourishment that never stops filling.

They seek God and they find him.
They hope for an answer and they hear one.
They wait and they receive the power of his Word.

Hungry. Hopeful. Listening. Ready. Eager to know the one driving them around all the time, leading the way, staying close minute by minute to make sure they stay in good health. 

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Mt. 11:27

The Father knows the son, the Son knows the Father.

How can we expect to know the Son, without asking to see him?

Pleading to see him,
leaning in to know him and
crying for a chance to behold him.

God picks up the whiney children wailing for more,
and carries us to make our loads lighter.

Then, we lay up against rest and lean on trust.

Gone, is the weight of striving and, present, is the hope found in abiding.

Our daddy takes good care of us, as he always does for a loved child. Our souls find the rest after listening to the answers for our million questions we were always hungry for. 

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Linking with #DanceWithJesus and #FiveMinuteFriday.


But Who’s Counting?

counting

Post by Christy Mobley

I have a great strength—I’m competitive.
I have a great weakness—I’m competitive.

This may sound strange but our biggest strength can sometimes become our greatest weakness.

At least that’s how it is with me.

The other morning while waiting for my oatmeal to bubble to a boil my mind wandered to a conversation I had with some blogger friends the day before. The question was raised as to whether anyone noticed a decrease in the traffic on their blog over the summer.

(For you non-blogger friends this simply means, are fewer people coming to your blog site?)

Honestly, I hadn’t noticed because I try not to watch those things. I know how I can be. But, after the conversation I thought, maybe I should. Maybe I should go all out for numbers.

While stirring my oatmeal, I shared these new feelings with God. Within seconds I felt His response, “Do you remember the devotion you wrote last year?”

“Our key verse, Philippians 2:13, tells us God has a plan and purpose for us, and He’ll get us where He needs us to go. In His timing. We need not try to beat Him to the finish.” (When I Lose Patience With God, Encouragement For Today, December 4, 2014.)

How could I so easily forget these words God put on my heart?

You see, in the past I’ve only had two speeds, all out, and dead stop. I’m kind of an all or nothing person. When I go after something I put in 150 percent effort. That’s my competitive side.  And at 150 percent, I burn out fast.

The God who knows me gently reminds me who I am and the reason I shouldn’t count numbers.

I’m not the only one with a counting problem, King David had a problem with counting too.

1 Chronicles 21:2 King David tells Joab, the captain of his army, “…Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many they are.”

Taking a census of who you have doesn’t sound so awful. Not on the outside anyway. But what are the motives driving the count? Satan can take something so innocent and cleverly tempt us to take our hearts in another direction. And that’s exactly what he did with David.

David’s heart became prideful.
Instead of having confidence in God’s power, He became puffed up in how God was using him for His purposes.

There is a fine line between the two we all need to carefully watch.

My all out 150 percent competitive nature can also become a source of pride. When harnessed by the Holy Spirit this gift can be a source for God’s glory. But when left to my own resources it can be my demise.

It drives me nuts to slow down because sometimes I feel like I’m moving at a snail’s pace while others are racing by me.

And I’m built for speed!

But first and foremost, I am built (created) for God. For His glory.

I’ve learned that I can’t look to my left or to my right. My focus needs to be straight ahead.

God wants us to keep going. To persevere. For me that means slowing down the pace to stay in the race He has set before me.

“I’ve heard that patience is slowing down to the speed of someone else. I’ve also learned I need to have a little more patience with God and slow down to His pace — the pace He has set for me.” (When I Lose Patience With God, Encouragement For Today December 4, 2014)

So why rush to count when God can do the counting for me?we see numbers and God sees people

There may be only one person who reads this post today. And if that’s so, I trust that God only meant it for one.

You.

And YOU count.

That’s good by me.

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Purposeful Faith Contributor

 

 

 

 

 

Christy is a wife, mother, writer, mentor, and Life Purpose Coach. She is passionate about encouraging women to move forward, and press on through their struggles, seeking God’s presence in every bump and turn in the road. You can connect with Christy at, Joying in the Journey, www.christymobley.com, Facebook, and Twitter.


Winning Your Battles: 2 Strategies

Winning Your Battles

What precedes victory?
What sets up a strategy that wins?
What helps solidify an unsure direction?

You probably haven’t heard this explained this way before. Or, maybe you have and have written its power off because it seems too simple, too ordinary and too commonplace. But, activating our hearts in these small two steps, often activates our hearts in new hope.

Let’s look at King Jehoshaphat, named “Yahweh has judged.”
Sound like a scary name?
It would to me. I would probably hide from myself with a name like that.

But, you see, Yahweh had judged him in a good way.

And He not only judged, but also in many cases he also blessed – because Jehoshaphat removed idols, cleaned up the land, purified hearts in truth and focused hearts on the one true God. Sure, he made a mistake or two, but his heart was right.

Mistakes come and mistakes go, but a heart sold out for God, is one God blesses.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Mt. 5:6

Yet, despite his goodness, Jehoshaphat had enemy Moabite armies stacked up to his neck.

Notice, God doesn’t remove hardships from good people –
often, he confronts us with them to release us from them.

Jehoshaphat certainly wasn’t spared – and he wasn’t so scared he couldn’t move.
He pushed harder against the force that wanted to push him down.
Did he realize he would grow stronger in faith by being faithful?

Like Jehoshaphat, our help isn’t found in our artillery,
but it’s found in humility before our God.

Pushing into God pushes us into his plan.

Suddenly we see – God’s deliverance is always had –
it is just a matter of when.

When we push into God, we get all we need to proceed.

So, what did “Yahweh has judged” do to push in when the forces of the Moabites stood against?

2 Things:

1. He prayed: Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. 2 Chron. 20:3-4

Notice that although he felt “alarmed,” he still “resolved.”

Do you “resolve to inquire of the Lord” when alarm bells sound?
Offering the resolve of your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength, will resolve them to God’s will. 

2. He worshipped & trusted: You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you…‘If calamity comes upon us…we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’
2 Chron. 20:6, 9

Seeing God in his true place sets his true ways into place – in us.

Looking up helps the things around, not bring us down.

Remembering Jesus’ victory locks our heart into His victory too.

What might true and faithful worship, in the face of battle, do for you? In the face of finances? In the face of arguments? In the face of poor health? In the face of fear? In the face of wayward children?

Let’s see what it did for Jehoshaphat…

Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel…as he stood in the assembly.  He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chron. 20:14-15

The Spirit showed up. God gave instructions on how to win and he also gave his presence that said, “I will be with you.”

When we seek God, we find him. 
When we find his face, he faces us with real truth.
When we know where our help comes from, our help often comes.

What I love even more is how Jehoshaphat literally headed foot-by-foot into war.

“Give thanks to the Lord,
    for his love endures forever.”

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.  2 Chron. 20:21-22

What if our battlegrounds became praying and praising grounds?

​What would go do in us, through us and for us?

This sounds like unstoppable, not easily defeated, winning faith.

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Linking with Holley Gerth.


The Joy Found Four Steps Back

Joy Found

I started running around a little.
Seeing other people.
Jumping in with them only to realize I shouldn’t be doing it.

Well, it is actually not as bad as it sounds, but it is actually still really bad. You see, I got online and started looking at all the people doing more than me. I started looking at how God is using them, gifting them and providing for them.

I saw their glow – and my mediocrity.
Their gifts – and my struggles.
Their smiles – and my sadness.

Like an album of poised perfection, as they radiated –  all my faults were punctuated.  Facebook seemed to exclaim, “Your really not that special.”

I hate it when it does that, don’t you? It can be an obnoxious friend. It’s shiny albums so often lead to dirty shame.

They have that? I wanted that too.
They went there? Why not me God?
They accomplished that? I will never.

Tsunamis in motion cannot be stopped; the hand of a human man doesn’t have the strength to hold them back. The thoughts roll in and they seem to take us down.

The stuff I have? It’s cruddy.
My clothes? They’re ugly.
My summer trips? They are small fry.
My status. It’s average.

How do I stop feeling this way God?

I don’t want to live like a pauper amidst your riches.

I don’t want to live thinking you won’t pull through,
when you already have.

I don’t want to live coveting,
when your life-injection power is found in praying.

How do I flip the switch of my hungry soul
to access the power of your nourishing being?

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully-grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15

God’s truth: By the time we have gotten to sin,
we have arrived too late.

The holiness party is long gone;
it was found 4 steps back.

Here is how it works:

1. We have a desire. I want more happiness and more riches and more recognition.

2. It tempts us. Kelly, don’t you deserve more happiness, more riches and more recognition?

3. It lures us.  Look at them. See what they have. See what you don’t.

4. It gives birth to sin.  Covet! Envy! Judge! Be prideful!

5. It leads to death.  Take what should be yours, at any cost. Put to death the temple within.

We beat sin not at the point of sin (#4), but at the point of disbelief (#1).

What is the impetus to your disbelief?
What little whispers coerce dissatisfaction in your life?

For me, it’s the whisper that I deserve to be happy, like really happy, slideshow-picture-perfect happy, glow-in-the-eye happy, arms-wrapped-around-each-other-so-tight-your-shoulders-get-smooshed happy.

MapQuest better send me there! A straight shot and no accidents please! That would throw off my happy meter.

It’s the whisper that small beginnings don’t count.
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zech. 4:10

Even the disciples started as fisherman so they could understand the words, “Be fishers of men.”
David started by first being faithful to sheep.
The tiny amount of loaves and fish were only the beginning of God’s miracle.
God rejoices in the motion of faith-reliant beginnings.

It’s the whisper (and quite an embarrassing one) that I need you to love me. I kind of want that – for you to see all of me and say “Oh, wow, that girl, that gal, Kelly, she has it. I want to be her friend. I want to know her.”

Jesus died open handed and he calls us to
open the hands of our desires, our longings and our hopes to him.

The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing. Prov. 10:28

Then I see what is really in my hands – nothing.
And who entirely fills them – Him.

I can:

Deal with sin and be delivered from pain.
Run to him like a prodigal child runs to a long-lost daddy.
Be shocked by radiant truth that liberates needy hearts.
Suck in his gift of always-love that never runs out as I open my heart.

When we find God, we find what our heart was always searching for.

I want that. Do you?

It is called joy – feeling-ruling, comparison-busting, overpowering joy.

It sees Him, who hands out his best.
Eye on the prize, it knows who is active and adorned.
It envisions the heavenly banquet table of camaraderie waiting.
It sits in a place of hardship with a smile of gratitude.
It often grows from pain (earthly crosses and nails water it).

It’s unlike any album on Facebook.

It is unlike any heart that seeks a new and shiny
bridegroom or idol online.

It is unlike anything we could scavenge up on earth.

It’s joy in the all-consuming presence of the one who consumes our deepest longings. It’s atypical, absolute and anesthetizing.

It’s fruit that keeps on satiating and replenishing our soul’s ravage hunger. It keeps us going.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
​because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Ja. 1:2–3

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