Today cannot be a time of blessing, can it? After all, we are social distancing, staying 6-feet away and looking at others like walking-viruses, ready to attack.
God, what do you have for me, here, in this weird place? This is an important question to ask.
I believe there are blessings available for those who ask. A blessing, not a cursing — for those with eyes to see. A bounty, not a backbreaking burden — for those at home.
Is that you? Or, do you feel it is unbiblical to be blessed? To seek a blessing?
You know, my friends and family…
for a long time, I could not receive a blessing. Nor, would I ask God for one. It felt self-indulgent to say, “Lord, will you bless me?” It felt unbiblical to say, “God, I want your blessings.” There are so many people who need so much more than I do. Who am I to ask. I should be a servant, not a seeker for myself…
Yet, a Psalm, written by David, a man after God’s own heart — set me straight. Within it David says:
“With all my heartI want your blessings.” Ps. 119:58
If David wanted a blessing, and God inspired these very words in His Word, who am I to disagree? I can ask for a blessing, with my whole heart, without shame!
“God, I want your blessings. With all my heart, I want your blessings. In a time of Coronavirus I want your blessings!”
The fact of the matter is — I need God’s blessings — His unmerited favor, right now, in my time of trouble, more than ever. Anything less than me needing God’s blessing is likely pride in-action.
To think I can do it without God’s help and generous giving is probably self-work or pious self-proving.
Thanks to God’s wisdom on this, during this season, I have received His blessing. This is why this time of “social distancing” has become a different time. Rather than “social distancing”, it is a time of “family gathering”. I have gotten closer to my kids and husband. I have laughed more. I have played more. I have gotten to know fun without big price tags.
I am blessed! What is simple has trumped what is complex and the peace of the Lord is here — in my house.
Because of this, I give him thanks. All glory to Him; I am blessed.
Might you ask God for a risky thing: to be blessed today…?
Prayer: Father God? I ask you for more, today. More blessings! More of you! More of what you have for me! I ask without shame! I ask expecting to receive. I ask ready to give all thanks and glory back to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I snapped. He raised his voice and snapped back. We gave each other squinty-eye looks.
After all, we’ve been in close proximity, in tight quarters for over a week. We’ve been cooped up and trying to stay positive… We’ve been walking around the block, many times a day… I’ve been homeschooling the kids… Add all this to the constant influx of bad news…and…
I’m not complaining. We are all just trying to make it, aren’t we? It is what it is. However, we can’t deny: it’s easy to get fed up and fired up at those we most love.
Distance doesn’t always make a heart grow fonder; in many cases, it is making us more irritated at those who are close to us.
The dishes left on the counter can feel personal. The person who snaps back is attacking us. The mistimed comment is a trigger. People feel too close for comfort.
So what do we do?
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Col. 3:13)
My husband and I have agreed, in order to make it this season– it must be a period of “extreme grace”.
This means we don’t (as much) comment on small issues. We don’t hold things against each other. We keep our mouth shut more often than we comment on meaningless things. We extend love even though. We make a decisive decision to look for the best in one another. We allow things to roll off our shoulders. We forgive rapidly. We remember that tensions are higher. We choose to reach out with patience more than to operate from panic.
We extend the very grace we desperately want to receive. We don’t count the price, but offer free love, despite ___(whatever).
I won’t say I am doing it perfectly. I can’t say he is either. But, I can say that more and more, we are keeping peace in our house and acting differently than the world around us. We aren’t fearing. We aren’t setting our kids up for a tense environment. We aren’t opening the door to other outside issues because we’ve let our guard down. This is good.
In this, we can far more walk with the Prince of Peace than the panic of this world.
What about you? How are you doing?
Prayer: Father God, these times are odd. We, in many ways, don’t know what we are doing, where we are going or how things will happen. The ground feels unsteady. But, we know that you are our rock. You are our steady-footing. We are in your fortress. We are in your strong tower. We are your children. We are your beloved. We thank you for how you are taking care of us in this hour. You are near. You are with us. You are our helper. You are our refuge. We are safe.
Father? Help us to receive your love so that we might love others well. Fill us with your mercy, grace and help this hour. We love you, Jesus. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A friend looked at me and said, “With God, the bad is good.”
Hmm…she had my wheels turning now…
I wonder, how many of us can see the truth in her statement?
The bad boyfriend that we, at one time, thought was good for us? We can see now, it is darn good that we didn’t marry him.
The bad health scare that we figured would kill us? Well, it is good that we are still alive and, not only that but, we now have more faith than ever.
The bad news that we lost our job?
It is good that God repositioned us. We hated every minute of that job and now God has us on unique-assignment, impacting specific people.
What bad has become good, in light of your prayers and God’s grace? Think back. Recount. Reflect. Remember. Restore your countenance.
What looks bad, becomes good, with God.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Cor. 2:20-22)
With God, through Christ, it is: “Yes!” It is good. It is God’s promises, delivered. It is God’s grace, right here and now. It is what looks bad, coming into the light of Christ. It is what hope we cannot see, becoming manifest.
See beyond your natural eye and you will see again. See beyond circumstances and issues to hope in Christ, once again. See beyond panic and you will see The Prince of Peace. See beyond what everyone else is doing and you will see Him. By the natural eye, we are blind, but by the Spirit-eye, we see: God’s promises are yes and amen. Jesus is greater. Jesus has conquered. The war is done. We are safe, forever. God is the Pre-eminent Ruler of The World. And, we are His children.
There is goodness waiting for you — right here, right now. Bad becomes good in light of God’s mercy and grace.
Glory to God!
Friends, during this time that can feel scary, panicked or stressful, I am doing more videos on Facebook and on Instagram. Come join me there, as I pray and share God’s Word to encourage your heart.
I put the broken sunglasses on anyway…even though I knew they’d sit crooked, even though they were broken. I guess you could say — I don’t care.
I don’t care what you think about me.
I don’t care if you give me a side-eye glance because one of the two arms are broken off and the glasses are becoming more vertical than horizontal.
I don’t care that I look odd and that you may be thinking weird things about me.
I don’t care, because I choose to be comfortable outside, more than to care about your inward thoughts towards me. I don’t care because the only other pair of glasses I own are now lost in some other state.
So, I plop the crooked glasses on my face and confidently hop outside with the couple we’re having over. I don’t care. If you don’t love me because of — my sunglasses, you would have never loved me anyway…
After a bit of chatting and sitting, one of the guests looks at me. He says, “Kelly, your glasses are so ministering to me.”
Really? That’s odd. I’m intrigued now. I sit up and lean forward.
“It’s as if you are saying, ‘I don’t care’.” He explained.
I love you, but…
I don’t care about impressing you.
I don’t care if you think I am too much for Jesus.
I don’t care if you call me intense.
I don’t care if I look odd when I tell people how much God loves them.
I don’t care if I don’t do what everyone else does, because it leads my heart down wrong-paths.
I don’t care if you judge me because of how I look.
I don’t care if you think you have more bible knowledge or good theology than me.
I do not fear you, so I can love you. With this, more and more, do not care…
What I do care about is God and what He is calling me to. I care about love that is pure and without pretense. I care about authenticity and welcoming others to be real. I care about real connection, despite looks. I care about what God is really saying and doing and leading us into, as a family, much more than I do about appearances.
Although a growth process, one of my greatest joys has been God teaching me to — not care! Now I am free! This is life and boldness for the Kingdom of God — like no other.
God speaks the best words over me, so I don’t have to be controlled by yours.
What do you care far too much about? How might God be calling you to — throw up your arms to say, “I don’t care! By George, I don’t care anymore…!”
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ( 2 Cor. 3:17)
The social media image said, “You get what you tolerate.”
I paused from scrolling for a second to ask myself questions: What have I been tolerating? Putting up with? Grinning, and bearing?
Scripture doesn’t say, “Tolerate the enemy.” It says, submit to God. Resist the enemy and he’ll flee. (Ja. 4:7)
Never once, did Jesus meet a person and say, “Oh, so you are struggling with sin? That’s okay. Not a big deal; grin and bear it.” Neither did He say, “So, you are feeling attacked? Just keep going, pretend that what you’re facing is not there and hang out with it for a while.”
No. We DO NOT tolerate attacks, bondage, lies or defeat. We do not give room for lesser things to overrule God’s great truth. We shut annoyances up and shut them down. Immediately, in the name of Jesus!!!
Never, ever, should we permit lesser lies to overrule our prominent position in Christ Jesus. We are dead to sin and alive to Christ! We do walk with a new nature! Nothing can take away what Christ has done for us…unless we allow our mind to agree with falsehoods. Or, we decide to ignorantly walk in sin.
With this, we must allow nothing to steal our identity in Christ Jesus.
Instead, we can choose to adamantly, radically, and furiously block lies, attacks, offenses, unforgiveness, bitterness, rejection and self-pity from redefining who we are. From morphing us into something or someone we are not.
To do this, we must disallow anything from putting separation between us and our first love.
“Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” (1 Jo. 5:21)
Because we are children of God.
Because we are eternally loved.
Because we are chosen.
Because we are called.
Because we are wanted.
Forever. And ever. And ever. And ever, more.
We are not slaves to fear. We are not defeated foes. We are not forgotten. We are not working to gain back ground. Or, trying to work around an angry father. We are not made to shirk or shrink back. We are not defined by the past. Or the sum of what others have said about us.
We are children. We have a dad who loves us. Who chose us. Who wants us. We have a Savior who died for us. A great path ahead of us. Nothing can stop us, in Christ Jesus.
Cast off whatever is entangling you. The enemy is a liar.
I had no idea that a hobby would teach me so much.
My son started collecting pennies. He is radical about it. He consistently wants to knock on our neighbor’s doors to ask if they have any spare pennies. And, this sounds odd, but, we actually ventured to a stranger’s house after posting on a community Facebook page that we were ‘in need’ of pennies. A kind soul answered. Not too long ago, we also brought a few of my dollars to the grocery store and exchanged them for penny rolls. He has a one-track mind, these days: Pennies. Pennies. Pennies.
Everywhere in the house, he spreads out coins, to examine them. We look for errors. Because errors mean “worth”.
After all, I know about pennies, and how much value they could potentially have, I can’t believe how carelessly I’ve treated the pennies, in the past. I’ve likely thrown out “worth”, tossed aside value, and given away a penny that could be worth hundreds, thousands, or even a million dollars.
The issue was: I didn’t know what I held. Many of us don’t know: what we hold.
This is an issue, because: when we don’t know what we ‘hold’, we don’t value it.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Pet. 2:9)
I am a chosen race. I am a royal priesthood. I am a woman who is God’s possession.
When I forget these things, I forget the light of Christ in me. I throw out the beauty of Jesus in me. I doubt my existence. I feel insecure. I shirk back under the pressure of what others think of me.
But, when I know what I hold? Then, I “proclaim the excellencies of him who has called me.” I shine. I share. I walk with a purpose. I am called-to-action. I am intentional. I am focused. I am on-fire.
What about you? Do you know the value of what is in you? Of Christ in you? Or, do you just trash it and toss it aside.
We are a prized possession of the High King. Let us not forget: we hold value.
On another note, as a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, I wanted to let you know that I was SO blessed to receive a free copy of The Jesus Bible, Artist Edition. I particularly loved the large margins on the side of the bible. It left me ample room to write notes. I am enjoying the commentaries from various biblical scholars. Just letting you all know in case any of you may be looking for a bible with wider-margins. It feels good to be able to keep a log of all the ways God is speaking through His word. I love looking back at my words, years later. For artists too – it may be a good investment.
So, my husband and I joined a new gym and, really, we’re just trying to finish the workouts. After every workout I turn to him and say, “We did it, again!” Those words feel like victory.
The truth of the matters is we haven’t really worked out for months. We don’t have muscles yet.
Today, in the class, the instructor, seeing me struggling, called out, “Kelly, go down in weight.” During the workout, I also forgot what movement we were doing, more than once. I had to ask for help. While everyone else carried-on, he had to show me.
The reality is: I don’t have muscle yet, in the places where others do. And, I am still learning the moves.
Shame would have me hating the fact that I needed help. It would keep me, in pride, rather than in humility asking for help. Godliness, however, does the opposite. It frees me up to embrace my truth: I have muscles that aren’t there yet. I don’t really know entirely what I am doing. It’s okay to ask – for help.
I got the info I needed from the trainer and got back on track. I finished the workout, again!
Likewise, some of us, are afraid: to ask for help. We figure we have to show up on the first day looking like we have all the muscles that everyone else does. But, the truth is – some of our spiritual muscles are not formed yet.
We all learn at different times. We grow at different paces. We discover in certain seasons. Why do we hate ourselves for what muscles God has not grown? Why do we berate ourselves for what we haven’t yet figured out?
We can ask others for help, without shame – that we aren’t — there yet. What we are dealing with is not a hindering weakness, but a forthcoming strength – if we let it be.
Imagine what sort of growth could happen if we freely admitted our need, so that other’s learnings could become ours? Might we grow 3 times faster, as we allowed someone else’s wisdom help us? Might we divert pitfalls, ones where we get hurt, give-up or tire-out, as we let other sharpen us?
God gave us people to help; some of us need to allow the blessing – that is “another” – into our heart.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17)
I didn’t expect this to happen… I stood at the window and watched multiple birds land on the bird feeder. It was an almost empty feeder. With this, time after time, bird after bird, none of them were eating anything. They just figured there was nothing left for them. So, they landed on the rod and…flew off…
But, one was different. He stuck his head in — and then — he got all the remaining food. He just sat there eating up what everyone else couldn’t see. Simply because he reached in…
I think a lot of us have lost hope. We have sort of given up on believing like we did before. So, we don’t reach up to heaven to pray anymore… We just sit there, and — worry, stress or fear…
But, for those who reach-deep and reach-up to God, who keep believing in “God’s more” and who keep seeking– they are the ones who find the bread of life.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)
Remember when I prayed for so many of you weeks ago? God did breakthrough. For one, someone got miraculous transportation provided for her ministry.
Do not give up on prayer. God hears.
I was just reading this morning in 1 Kings 19 that Elijah prayed seven times — seven times!! — for rain. Even Jesus prayed more than once for the “man who saw trees.”
Just because you haven’t seen it — doesn’t mean you won’t. All is not hopeless. Keep persevering in prayer. God hears. It may not be on prayer #1, but on prayer #8 that breakthrough finally comes.
For years, I didn’t realize I viewed God through a lens distorted by lies and half-truths. I lived as though he withheld something from me, and spent my days trying to measure up to some invisible standard.
I was kicked out of a private Christian school during my senior year, and I adopted the belief that God wasn’t happy with me unless I followed a rigid set of rules. Since I knew there was no way I could possibly measure up, I broke the rules instead of trying to follow them. I didn’t see how tired and angry I was toward God and the church until years later, when God removed me from everything familiar.
To shift our perspective, God often takes us out of the place where we’re comfortable.
This is what he did with me as a newlywed, when my husband and I moved over two thousand miles away from my hometown. The reason we saw was a job opportunity, but God’s reasons were quite different. He wanted to transform my thinking, and he knew a drastic life change would push me to seek him like never before.
For months after the move, I faced culture shock. The area of Utah where we lived was beautiful, with snow-capped mountains and an endless skyline. But the predominant beliefs were different than the “Bible Belt” area where I grew up. The stark contrasts forced me to ask myself, “What do I believe? Who is God, anyway, and what does he want from me?” When I discovered we were expecting our first child, my determination to find a firm foundation and belief system became even more crucial.
In the four years we lived on the Wasatch Front, I discovered many things I didn’t expect about God. He led me to books, friends, and a home church where I became grounded in truth.
But there’s one truth that continues to transform me today as I discover its vastness: God wants my joy.
As a matter of fact, before his brutal death, he prayed for each of us to experience it. Full and without measure. Not was the world perceives it- as the result of something we do or achieve, but a direct fruit of his Spirit in us.
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” John 17:13 NIV
If we think God is withholding something from us, our actions will reflect it, and its effects will cascade into every aspect of our lives. But if we view him through the lens of his grace, we will experience joy and peace. Every good thing we have is because of him. He doesn’t want our perfection, but our love and trust. This is what transforms lives, not endless to-do lists.
Instead of asking, “What is God withholding from me,” we can ask, “What has he given me?”
Rather than clench our hands with worry, we can open them with confidence that he’ll act out of his love and goodness.
When I became honest with myself after years of running from God, I realized I made a lot of poor choices in my early adult life. But God, being rich in mercy, protected me from a life of regret. My bitterness over addiction and codependency in my family turned to prayers for their release from bondage. My thinking shifted from being me-centered to others-centered.
God is still working on me, and he won’t be finished until his return. But as his Spirit continues to transform my thinking, my view of him is clearer.
Each day he shows me see that we don’t have to wait until we’re fully transformed or perfect to witness his hand. We can see it right here.
Sometimes, we just have to adjust our lens and change the way we look for God. We have to alter the ways we view him and uncover lies we believe. This is the journey I invite you to take with me. Will you join me?
r side of the struggle or mess to see God. But if we want to see him, we have to change the way we look for him. Let’s do this in 2020.
If you preorder Shift today, you will receive several freebies, including a gorgeous “Forward-Moving Faith” printable and the first three chapters for immediate download. You can order right here, and claim your freebies here!
About the Author:
Abby McDonald is also a writer, speaker, wife, and mom whose work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, (in)Courage, Crosswalk, and more. Her passion is to empower women to grow in faith and hope, even when life is messy. She earned a BA in English from the University of South Carolina and teaches writing workshops both online and at conferences each year. Abby lives with her husband, three children, and mischievous lab pup in the mountains of western Maryland. You can download “The Daughter’s Manifesto” as her free gift to you and connect with her at abbymcdonald.org.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:4-8)
We often look at these verses and think, “This is how I need to act. This is how I should treat others. This is what I have to do to be loving. . .”
But, how often do we consider — this is how God loves us. . .
With this, God is patient to you today. If you’re having a hard time changing, His grace is there to help on your way.
God is kind. His kindness can overpower your meanness to yourself if you allow His Words to become your words.
God is not envious, boastful or proud. He wants the best for you — without anything else. There’s no additional, “But. . .”, or exclusion, or disclaimer.
God is not dishonoring, self-seeking, or angry. While people may act one way, God’s way is the good-way, the right way, the heart-honoring way. Above people’s ways, you can always find His. This is a freedom-place for you.
God does not keep a record of your wrongs. The second Jesus died, He created-way for wrongs to be replaced with the righteousness of Christ. To receive Christ is to find relief.
God does not rejoice in evil, but delights in truth. Whereas the world may celebrate dysfunction and laud evil, God delights in truth as truth. What is hidden — He brings to light.
God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. He is always protecting you — and worthy of trust. He has all vision and plans in His hands. And, His love for you, will persevere all trials and hardships.