Purposeful Faith

Category - awe

When God Takes Away

god takes away

Are you in a ‘taking-away’ season?

This season, the enemy attempted to ‘take away’ some much hoped-for stuff from me, for sure. . . It feels like a season of stripping. Hopes of doing big things with people Ioved slowly evaporated from my eyes. Dreams of aligning with certain people to see love come forth in powerful ways got halted. A project I worked so hard on, just went kaputz in the natural.

The enemy takes away, but so does God.

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. (Job. 1:21)

We cannot completely blame on the enemy, what praise is due to God.

Are you in a stripping season? One where you feel like you are losing material items, dreams, things, relationships you counted on, more of what you wanted, expectations, your plans?

Listen, I get it. But, what I also get is that when you have nothing left to rely on, you still have everything.

Stripping-seasons remove so much flesh, we’re left blazing Holy Spirit.

We begin to speak things like:

I expect nothing, but trust God for everything.
There is nothing I want, but Him.
There is no other rescuer, than my King.
I have no plan anymore, but His.
Nothing can restrict me when everything has been removed.
Nothing now can lure me, more than ‘My God’.
Nothing controls me, but the Holy Spirit.
Every opportunity is available to me, as I rely on Him, and Him alone.

Stripping-periods are humbling, no doubt, but they’re also giving periods.  When a parent takes something away from a child, they almost undoubtedly do it with the hopes of giving them back something better. Take away the candy — to give better health. Say no to the toy — so they appreciate the plenty they’re about to get on their birthday. Say no to TV — so their mind can grow smarter through play-time learning.

When God says no, He also has a better yes.

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job. 1:21)

Blessed be His name.

I wanted __, He gives character.

I demanded __, He comes back and delivers wisdom.

I thought __, He has increase — given in a way that I carry with humility.

I expected ___, He brings me a strengthening that helps me run my race to the end.

I thought ___, He offers me fresh gratitude.

I believed ___, He gives me eyes to see past the great thing to His greater thing.

Prayer: I resolve, today, to trust you, God. You have the best plan for me, Daddy. I don’t have to see to believe that your end is good for me. I lay down ‘what was’ for ‘what will be’ in accordance with your heart’s desire. You know what you’re doing. My feelings may send me left and right, but your love endures forever. I can rest in that place and you work out good. I love you, God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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What’s in it for me?

We are all busy. Moving. Doing this and that. Answering emails to stay on top of things. Attending to the car that needs an oil change. Driving here and then there. Addressing the infinite immediate needs — but how often do we see beyond all this — to the heart of Jesus?

Recently, I had a project. Much of it was about organizing and recruiting people. In a sense, I had to show people the worth of their involvement in it. Some people said, “Yes, I want to be included.” Others, said, “No.”

But, what I figured was underneath it all, many were asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?”

What do I get?
Will it advance my cause?
How does it work out for me?

That is — until one woman’s reply broke the power of my over-generalizing words, when she wrote, “Yes, and, please let me know how I can help you.”

What?!!! She wants to — help me?  You mean she is not looking at this — from what is in it for her?

Wow. While I’d probably asked a hundred people the same question, only one returned to say — and how can I help you?

It reminded me of this story.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Lu. 17:15-19)

10 were healed.
1 came back.

Who are we in this story?

Are we the one who looks to take the good stuff from God — only to go ahead with our own agenda? Or, do we come back and say, “Oh, my God! Thank you so much for what you are giving and doing! You’re amazing.”

Are we the one who says, “This story is all about me.” Or, are we the one who turns to the person next to us and says, “What’s your story and how can I help you today?”

Are we the one who keeps talking without considering the person’s desire to talk or share? Or, do we make room for their voice within the conversation?

Are we the one who sees God answer a prayer, only to consider the 501 other things that should be better by now, God? Or, are we the one who falls down and says, “Thank you, Father, you’re doing it! Thank you. I can’t see the rest, but I trust you!”

I’ve been both at times. When I was like the nine, I felt rushed, anxious and tense. Overwhelmed by the next thing I had to do and accomplish. When I became the 1, I rejoiced in how: Jesus saw me, showed up for me, and how I got to hold His hand in the celebration of His goodness. I somehow grabbed a deeper hold of Jesus.

Friends, often our thanks, when done by faith, makes us well. How do you need to turn back to Jesus today to say, “Thank you”? Maybe it is not only done by word, but through action.

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Let God Lift You, Today

I woke this morning feeling down. Upon my first step out of bed, a headache hit me. And, because the kids had to get to school early, I had no morning moments to spend with God.

I ran through the house finding uniforms and packing snacks, picking up plates and finding my keys. All the while, mini-assaults hit my mind. . .

That person never got back to you; she abandoned you. . .
You make mistakes Kelly; people see them. . .
You should be ashamed at how you are acting in front of your family. . .

I grunted some short words to my husband and headed out of the door.

Later, I decided to fight back. I refuse to be ruled by feelings, sickness, past issues, rejection, or annoyances.

What is ruling you? Do you feel down because of a person? Rejected because of how things played out? Ruled by what was? Tormented in your mind? Thrown off by how you act?

God broke my downcast spirit these three ways.

One: I spoke to myself, saying, “Insides, you will submit to the truth and Lordship of Jesus. You are under Him.”

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (Ja. 4:7)

Two: I considered how much God loves me.

“The Lord will not reject His people; he will not abandon His special possession.” (Ps. 94:14)

Despite what people do, God will do what He will do. He works independently of “man”.  He cares about me, His special possession.

I told God about my sadness, then I received (and spoke) the truth that He is NOT rejecting or abandoning me. He will not do that.

Three: I vowed to God to return to trust. I asked God for fresh faith-in-believing.

How blessed and greatly favored is the man who trusts in You [believing in You, relying on You, and committing himself to You with confident hope and expectation]. (Ps. 84:12 AMP)

God will be good, no matter what. It is who He is. Sometimes, our minds may get out of alignment, but the Word of God readjusts us back into place. Nothing can contend against the Sword of the Spirit.

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Busting The Enemy’s Plan

I pray often. Why?
Because I expect God to answer. I’ve seen him answer countless prayers. I know He has show-up and show-off power so divine — it can change anything and everything, in a split-second. I rely on prayer like breakfast.
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (Jo. 14:13)
Anyway, my husband and I have recently talked about how people — people we don’t even know — are likely praying for us. We just got the sense that God was putting us on people’s heart.

Today, I saw this come to reality. I clicked into my hidden Facebook messages (the ones I hardly ever check) and there were messages. Two said things like, “Kelly, you are on my heart. I am praying for you today.”

Bam! God knows. He sends workers out to help us harvest His fields. Often, we can’t even see them at work, we don’t even know what they are doing or how they are praying with us. You never know who has your back. Some faithful friend, I pray, has you covered.

Anyway, later, I saw another message come in my Facebook inbox. I anticipated that it was, once again, was God and more answered prayers. I immediately went to open it. No. It was not God. It was porn. In motion, playing right before my very eyes.
I clicked out of that thing as quick as my fingers could move and then I thought, “Isn’t this how the enemy works? What seed God is planting the enemy comes to steal with a message that disturbs the mind. That distracts. That pulls away what God is doing in order to replace it with shame.”
“Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” (SOS 2:15)
What, in your life, is God blooming, where the enemy is working at stealing? What seed of prayer have you planted that the opposer wants to rip up through doubt?
Just because you see the image, hear the accusation, come under the attack, sit with the pain, feel the calling to sin, doesn’t mean you have to submit to it, to indulge in it or to give mind to it.
Greater is He who is in you, than He who is in the world. Shut down the attack. Move back to glory. Jesus is writing your story. The grapevines that ARE blossoming. Don’t pay due attention to what glory is not due to the enemy.
Prayer: God, thank you that you are greater than every obstacle. You are more powerful than any injury. You are more present than the people around us. You are alive and well, moving and healing, answering our prayer and then answering it once again. You ARE faithful. You WILL show up. For many people reading this blog, you will show up today, in awe-inspiring ways. Let them see you. Let them perceive you. Let them know you. Including me, God. Break into our lives, and break-out peace so divine it touches the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

How to Trust In The Lord

Many of us say to God, “Father, I can’t see where you are taking me or what you are doing. How do I trust, when I don’t know? What instruction do you have for me?”

I believe that wisdom wants to speak to you today, saying:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
    Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Then you will have healing for your body
    and strength for your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the best part of everything you produce.
Then he will fill your barns with grain,
and your vats will overflow with good wine.” (Prov. 3:5-10)

God encourages our heart, by reminding us: Just trust me.

“Trust in the Lord and do good.
    Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
    Trust him, and he will help you.

HE WILL make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
    and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.” (Ps. 37:3-6)

You will be brought to the land, as you trust. You will be given your heart’s desires as you – take delight. You will be helped as you commit. It all goes hand-in-hand. But, the keywords are: HE WILL DO IT. All this is done by God and through God.

Prayer: God, will you increase my faith? Will you help me trust you, follow you, and take delight in you? I, today, commit my every way, every thought and everything to you. I place it all under your love, care, direction, and authority. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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When You Crave Things

When I was in college, I remember sitting in the car dealership, asking my dad, “Please dad, please! Can I get this car???”

The amazing thing was — my dad wasn’t buying it for me. Somehow, though, I needed his permission. Yet, I was the one walking out of the dealership with a title and a $500 monthly payment on a vehicle. It didn’t matter, I was enthralled. It seemed my whole life was about to change.

The car was a convertible. For the first week, I was internally on-fire every time I drove that car. I wondered if people were looking at me. I wondered if I could feel better than I did when I sat in those fire-red leather seats.

Then, the buzz wore off.

It wasn’t long until it became an ordinary car. It didn’t feel as special. It didn’t look as shiny. The rear window cracked a little. The monthly payments were taking a big chunk of my monthly paycheck.

“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law. . . ” (Phil. 3:7-9 NLT)

Ten thousand times, I thought all these things were valuable, until. . .

One: They didn’t taste as good as Jesus.
Two:  Their joy ran out.
Three: I got bored with them.
Four: They actually became slavery.
Five: I wanted something else better.

What have you thought “was life”, only to find out– in the end –it wasn’t? A new car? A house? A better wardrobe? A new husband? A perfect job?

Everything pales in comparison when laid up against the One Thing, Jesus, who is everything. Treasures are trinkets once you get a taste Jesus’ love.

My heart, these days, wants to invest — less in goods — and more in love. What about you? What are you searching for? What do you believe will fulfill your greatest hopes, dreams, desires, and wishes?

“I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.  I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.” (Phil. 3:9-10)

So, today, more than ever, I invest in faith.

Faith is to believe God, despite what you see; to trust God more than you know; to rest on God more than makes sense for your running mind to comprehend. Because it is faith that gets to know Christ and to experience His mighty power that, astoundingly, raised Him from the dead.

Prayer: God, today, I ask for a transfusion of faith to happen. I ask that every reader of this post would be filled with fresh faith that we would all feel on-fire for you. I ask that lesser things fade away and that you as the One Thing come into pre-eminent position. We want you. We need you. We trust you. Fill us with your love, power, and goodness. We ask to know you more. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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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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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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The Assault of Distraction

“Get that (insert curse word) thing away from me!”

The man screamed at me with all his might. Not only did he scream, but rage filled him, his face became red and he appeared to want to beat me up. Very scared, I walked away. He caught up to me with his bike next to him. Fully aware he was there, I didn’t look his way. I just prayed with all my heart that he wouldn’t hit me and I kept walking. God answered my prayers. He passed by.

Now, that morning, I never set out to get verbally assaulted, but I suppose it was my fault. . .

I decided to go to the beach for a walk with God. My goal was to pray, connect with God and to listen to some worship music. I was in the zone. I was loving talking to Jesus. So, as I approached a beautiful scenic boardwalk that ended with the ocean in sight, I opened up my camera app; I wanted to remember the moment. I did see the far-off man a little to the right side of my picture frame, but he made the shot look even better, so I snapped the photo anyway.

And, that’s where my problem began. In retrospect, I didn’t consider that he may not have wanted a photo taken of him. I started to get angry at myself. I made a mistake. I should have been more thoughtful. I ruined my time with God.

It was as if, after this event, my connection to God was — gone.

And, here, it occurred to me that this whole encounter was symbolic of a greater issue: distraction.

If the enemy can’t keep us away from God, he’ll try to distract us away from Him.

How often does a to-do in your mind occur to you right when you start to meet with God?

How often does a text message come in right when you are praying?

How often do house-needs seem to demand you take care of them first?

In my case, a raging man wanted to steal away my time with God, but similarly, silent or quiet demands pull me away in the same way. Power comes when we recognize them for what they are and stay with God anyway.

If your mind gets distracted, just choose to return back to the last thought you can remember you had with God. He waits.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jer. 29:13)

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Love Often Feels Awkward

Riding bikes, my 7-year old turned to me and said, “Mommy, I want to go knock on that person’s door and let them know, ‘God loves them.’

Now, I did not know “that person” or how they would react to my son knocking randomly on their door. As I am sure you all know, I’m all about sharing God, but being a door-to-door solicitor for Jesus seemed, well. . . a little beyond me.

All the same, my heart was struck by the thought: If I want Michael to get to know God personally, I have to permit him to personally move towards God. In this, He’ll get to see God show up.

So, I gave him permission. My son parked his bike and I circled in the cul-de-sac with my daughter, trailer-in-tow.

Heart-pumping – while wondering if my child was about to be abducted – I carefully watched from the street. Yet, the more I watched the more I couldn’t believe it – both my son and the lady who he was now talking to were smiling and laughing. Then, the lady handed my son – what?!!! – cash. Yes, money. Her son took out cash and passed it to my son too.

What is going on?

I approached.

After introductions, the blonde lady with a son said, “You know, today at church it was amazing. Instead of taking a tithe, the pastor gave out cash – $10 to each person sitting in the aisles. He said, ‘Give it to someone who has impacted your relationship with God.’ I didn’t know what to do with the money. Earlier today, after church, I told my husband, ‘I have no idea who to give the money to.’ My husband told me, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll know.”

She went on, “And, here you are. You just showed up today. Right on time.”

We all laughed at the goodness of God. At how God sent Michael to this very house out of the dozens we’d bicycled by. . . At how God just “knows. . . ”

Her son said, “I don’t know, mom? This doesn’t really seem believable…”

And, so it is with God. When we submit to him, He does the unbelievable.

And, here, as I reflect back on this whole amazing set-up that God orchestrated, and my sons’ courage, I can’t help but think: It’s often risk-taking that lets us walk into God’s most amazing things. It is when we do things that are out-of-the-ordinary that we get to see God’s extraordinary moves. It is when we put ourselves “out there”, in love, that we feel God’s deep love making its way back into our hearts. It almost always feels comfortable.

I thank my little 7-year old for this “beyond-me” lesson on love.

With this, I wonder, how can you love extraordinarily today? How can you let someone know, “God loves them”, even if it makes you feel weird?

On Earth, you may never know the impact of your love, but I assure you, your love will never fail . . . ” (1 Cor. 3:18)

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