Maybe you need encouragement. What I want to tell you today, is: don’t give up.
It doesn’t matter what things look like. The tomb looked empty, but what it meant was — Jesus rose up and out of the grave.
It doesn’t matter what things feel like. Mary and Martha felt afraid because their brother was dead, until he was alive again.
It doesn’t matter what you think will happen. It seemed impossible for David to beat a giant, or for Sarah to have a baby at her age, but they did.
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” (Ps. 37:5)
It is as simple as: trust God and He will act.
It is as easy as: be faithful to Him who is faithful.
It speaks-out like: “I don’t have to believe, to see.”
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (Jo. 20:29)
You don’t even have to believe, necessarily in yourself or your thoughts; believe in God. God is who He is and who He is — He will always be.
“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind.” (Nu. 23:19)
Lover of your Soul
Care for the helpless
Refuge in a time of trouble
Hope for the weary
God is who He is. The more you know who He is the more you’ll rest in how He’s bound to come through for you.
But, my heart thumped. Why? Because I knew I should raise mine.
But, how can I? The girl who wrote the book about fear? How can I admit today that I am struggling with fear? What will they think of me? How will I look? I’m a shame. I should be better than I am.”
But, I knew “my truth”. How I get afraid of powerless moments when I don’t know how to react. How I feel nervous that God won’t make a way for my dreams. I feel afraid that I may misinterpret scripture and lead his people or myself, astray (my worst nightmare). . .
As the man waited, I had to decide: Would I lie before man and God — by keeping my hand down — or would I admit my struggle, and raise it up?
I slowly inched my hand up, somehow signaling to the group: I am not perfect, not altogether and I struggling. . .
I half-expected them to laugh at me, to raise their chin up just a little higher than mine, or to question why I even write books. . . but they didn’t.
Then, the most interesting thing happened. As the group wrapped up, a bunch of women came over to me. They said, “How do you spell your last name? We want to get your book. . . ”
And, so I consider today:
Maybe people don’t hate our weakness as much as we think they do.
Maybe our truth-telling doesn’t make people want to run as much as the enemy tries to convince us it does.
Maybe people aren’t looking for perfect friends, as much as they are honest ones.
Are you honest before man? Before God? Or, are you trying to hide the worst of you, because you figure no one will want you anymore?
Our revealing before God — and man — is our healing. But, our hiding often is — our increase of shame.
“Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile,[c] circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized,[d] slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” (Col. 3:9-11 NLT)
A few days ago, I watched an athlete in a TV interview. What struck me was not his confidence, but his lack thereof. He seemed unsure, insecure and hesitant. This is not common to champions. It seemed odd. Rather than saying something like, “I’m going to go out there and give it my all,” he spoke something like, “well, I am just going out there. . . and. . . we’ll see.”
I was intrigued by his words. I wanted to know how he was going to fare at the big athletic event that was coming up. I was pretty sure, he’d already counted himself out. I kept my eyes on the event. Sure enough, not much later, he got hurt and was out of the event.
Sadly, it wasn’t his athletic power or prowess that made him lose, but his mindset.
How often are we already defeated, before we even start?
Lately, I’ve been working on a project. If I’m honest with myself, my heart hasn’t been in it. I guess, underneath it all — I don’t want to fail and have bad results. I don’t want it to appear I didn’t do a great job at my work. I don’t want people to think bad things about me. I don’t want to try hard and then lose belief in my self.
“The timing isn’t right.”
“I don’t have the resources like I did last time.”
“I don’t feel good about how it is shaping up.”
“God probably is not calling me to do this.”
What excuses are you making — to not see through something you’ve promised to do?
Often, the Lord positions us to awkwardly trust Him rather than casually continuing our own way. We may see it as a position of: lack. But, God knows, it is a position of: power.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. (Ps. 127:1)
We build. It’s our construct.
He builds. It’s an impenetrable, unwavering, fortress, not easily tumbled down.
Which construct has a firmer foundation?
When God constructs, feelings, end results, people’s opinions, and outcomes don’t matter. When God constructs, we always get built up. It seems he’s coming to fix a window until He says, “Oh no, it goes much deeper than this — I have to get behind your walls.”
This is why sometimes outcomes don’t turn out as we expect. Because our good Father goes behind facades to build a sturdy house, rather than a feeble one. And, it is all for our good. For your good.
What are you building — a house of sticks? Or, one of materials that will last?
As we entrust our heart, our attitude, our will, and emotions to Him, He will build a construct that will not be tossed, thrown out or torn down — and that will endure all the way to and through heaven.
There are times in our life when it feels no one understands. In these places, we may communicate our heart along with every word from Alpha to Omega in conversation, and still be met with blank eyes. Alternately, we may try a new action and see it through, yet still find the person responds – “not as expected”. Or, we may open up and convey our insides only to feel utterly rejected because the “listener” changes the subject or looks the other way.
There are times in life when our insides are almost 100% certain we are: alone. Are you there today?
Do you feel abandoned by those who are supposed to love you? Broken because you are trying your hardest and it still is not working out?
Don’t lose hope. I believe, in certain seasons of life, there are things in our heart — only God understands.
“Lord, you have seen what is in my heart. You know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know what I’m thinking even though you are far away. You know when I go out to work and when I come back home. You know exactly how I live. Lord, even before I speak a word, you know all about it.” (Psalm 139:1-4)
Even when they want to, man can’t fully discern from the outside what God sees in our insides. The motives, intentions, will, spirit, history, thought processes and motivations to man — are hidden, but to God — are seen. Only God has X-Ray vision.
Why is it this way? This makes us run to Him. Call on Him. Accept His consolation. Over time, we build an inside-joke like relationship with the King of Kings. “Only He understands… Only God knows… Only He saves me…”
This doesn’t mean we write people off, expect them to never understand or decide not to share our heart. It means we stop hitting our head against the wall, trying to get everyone to understand every detail of our “backstory”. Instead, we trust God is rewriting a better story. We call out to Him and permit Him to hear our pain. We wait by faith, not by sight.
The endless explaining of “all our reasons” and “why we did what we did” discussions take a backseat to God’s words. We may even find that He wants us to recognize that we are entering a new season. Here, we may need to make some personal changes or set some new boundaries.
This most easily happens when we become less focused on “changing-them” and more intentionally focused on “changing-me”.
Or we can decide to NOT do this.
The hard truth is: We either partner with God as He takes us where He is going or we fight Him tooth and nail and we go our own way. Woe be it to the child who engages in hand-to-hand combat against the Lord Almighty.
In some ways, I think I’ve done this lately because I don’t want things to change. But the kind-of funny reality is they’re changing anyway. Whether I like it or not. God always wins.
His plans are good too. It’s usually in retrospect we come to this.
Either way, wisdom is — at some point before “retrospect” — stopping to throw your hands up and refuse to do what you’ve been doing. Why? Because carnal breakthrough aside from Jesus is insanity.
Real change is saying: “I don’t know how Jesus, but give me the grace anyway to do what it is your heart most wants.”
Then, by faith, you lean into Him and agree to take a new path. Even if it is completely uncharted territory.
“You are all around me. You are behind me and in front of me. You hold me in your power.” (Ps. 139:5)
She said (with all the wisdom that 5-years brings a girl): “Mom, how come other moms have bodies that go straight-down? And, you’ve got a body that goes out on the sides? Your back side is big too.”
I said: “Hmm…Madison, that’s true. Some moms do have bodies that go straight down.”
She said: “Mommy, you’re fat.”
I said: “Oh really?”
I fretted: Maybe I really am – fat?
Yes. My sides are bigger. My hips are larger. My silhouette is more pear-shaped than stick-shaped. She’s right about that. In this moment, I almost wanted to rush to the mirror to check myself out. Maybe I’d become disillusioned about own figure? Perhaps I was a whole lot bigger than I’d realized. I do see myself every day. Those kinds of things can inch-up on a woman.
She said: “Mommy, what made you fat?”
How does one answer this…?
I made me – fat? God made me – look fat? I am not – fat?
Here, I thought back to how she didn’t want me to hug her in class the other day. She pushed me away. Was it because — I’m fat? Maybe I need to go on a workout plan. Maybe I need to stop those afternoon ice-cream digs for peanut butter cups. Maybe I need to walk some more…
And then reality hit me, much like her words: God could care less about fat. Indeed, He wants me to love His temple, but, where man looks at our outsides; God looks at our heart.
“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)
“Madison,” I said. “God made us all shapes and sizes. He loves all of us the same. It is not how we look that makes us lovable, better or more valuable, but Christ inside of us that makes us special.”
Who knows if I got through to her. It’s a scary thing to send a girl out in this raging pressure-filled world. But, perhaps, I can get through to you and me today…
Here are my thoughts about this:
We’re not a product of our pants-size, but the product of God’s love dwelling inside.
We’re not conformed to the image of this world, but we’re being transformed into the beautiful likeness of Christ.
Grace abounds. If we need help, He who IS help has more than enough help to help us.
Internal or external insults can’t stick to us when we’re covered by the full acceptance, love, and approval of Jesus.
Jesus is not in the business of weighing us, He’s in the business of pouring out the full weight of His love on us.
In God’s love, even if there’s an extra 5 or 50 pounds we need to shed, we remain: wanted, love, kept, desired, approved of, accepted, valuable and full of Jesus. God looks at us with love; He doesn’t spend one ounce of time hating our outsides. And, if He doesn’t, why should we?
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Solomon 4:7)
I feel convicted. It is easy to read God’s word and to say, “Yep, that thing right there is what I need to do…”. Yet it is quite another thing to do it. It is easy to develop a three-step plan for improvement, but it is hard to see it through. It is easy to remind yourself of all the ways you really need to change. And then to never find change.
At home, as a mom, I’ve recognized 3 things that need to change:
1. I give in to my children when they ask repeatedly for something.
2. I desperately avoid paths of resistance to keep everyone happy.
3. I have a hard time setting boundaries because I feel guilty.
Friends, I guess I feel a little angry at myself that I haven’t changed these things already. That I haven’t recognized them and reworked them. That I still struggle. That I cause issues at home sometimes. That I can’t stand it when people feel unhappy or angry at me.
I know I am wrong; I am a pushover. I am disappointed in myself.
Maybe you feel like me; disappointed in how you are, what you are doing or where you are today. Maybe you’ve told yourself you’re going to stop cussing, start praying or you’re 100% going to speak nicely now. Or that you’re going to get yourself to where you want to go.
Are we justified to feel this way? To “get our self where we want to go”? To “work up” some sort of inner-heart conversion?
Only God can change a heart.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36: 26-27)
– God gives us a new heart.
– By his work, he removes the stone.
– The Spirit, in us, moves us to follow God’s decrees and laws.
Only by a work of God can we work-out any real and lasting life change.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Ps. 127:1
So where does this leave us? In prayer and with faith.
God will complete the good work He has begun in us. (Phil. 1:6) We no longer need to be angry at ourselves but 100% trustworthy in the Saviors saving work, that is at work within us.
It’s a horrible thing to lose something. I hate it when I can’t find my phone. My husband will be waiting in the car, with the kids buckled in behind him, while I have to “run back in” to find it. I always put my phone in the oddest spot: a shelf to the left, under the covers on my bed or on the corner of a bathroom counter.
To be at a loss of a very important thing is super frustrating. Even more frustrating, the powerless feeling that you don’t know how to go about putting things back together again.
For a bit, I felt like I misplaced faith. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God or anything like that. It’s just I didn’t really believe He had good stuff for me or that I could trust in His goodness to pull through. After a series of disappointments where I expected Him to show up one way, I guess, I became upset when He showed up a different way.
So, I stopped being as tender to Him. I let a little bit of calloused skin cover my heart. I met with God, but only let Him approach me — so-deep.
Wondering what happened to my wild-belief and strong-faith, where anything is possible. I dove back into Hebrews 11 this morning to see if God wanted to bring something back to life.
“Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that there is a God…”
Yep. I got that covered. I believe there is a God.
“…and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6)
I “must” believe He rewards me?
To believe God “rewards me” feels indulgent, selfish and it induces guilt in me. Isn’t faith supposed to be about all I give Him – what I do, how I love Him, reading the bible with Him and loving others on His behalf?
Yet, God hones in on this— “Kelly, I want you to believe when you sincerely seek me out — I am going to reward you.”
Faith is not only coming to God, or doing His work, receiving and expecting His reward too. We are not old rag dolls, who God uses to take advantage of to get His way or to use up and then throw out. We are children, daughters, of a Father who loves us and wants to take care of us. His heart, when we meet Him, when we trust Him, when we long for Him, when we find Him — is to reward us. It is to give — to renew, replenish, restore and reinvigorate.
When we seek Him, we’ll find Him and He’ll reward us.
Something about this idea — speaks so deeply to my heart that: God is good.
It’s an easy thing to forget, I know. We forget things that we are inside of often. For instance, how often do we think, “I am in the system,” or “I am inside the state of ___.”
We rarely consider where we are – although we should. Because when you realize positionally where you are, it situationally reframes the world around you.
What needs reframing in your life? Are you aggravated at a boss? Discouraged at your lack of initiative? So busy you can’t even consider God? Demoralized by the words of people around you? Unsure about the direction you should head? Feeling depressed or powerless to change your circumstances.
Remember where you are. Realize positionally that you are in God’s love to change situationally – everything.
When you are inside God’s love, you realize you are: H.I.S. You dwell on the fact you are H.I.S.
1. Hidden in Christ.
“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3)
If you accepted Christ, in Him (inside all His glory, power, honor, might, strength, wisdom) your life is now hidden. You don’t have to fear the future, because you can trust in His providence to change everything.
2. Invincible in Battle.
“Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty; the LORD, invincible in battle.” (Ps. 24:8 NLT)
If you are in Christ, hidden in Him, then – because of Him – you actually become invincible in battle. This is powerful. The King of Glory can go where He wants, in a way that is invincible to the enemy of your life. Take a moment to receive this truth in your mind. Don’t gloss over this point.
3. Secured as you trust.
“Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you.” (Phil. 2:1 GNT)
In Christ, you are strong. In Christ, love comforts you. In Christ, you get everything you need to face whatever mountain stands against you.
You will not be wavered, but full of Christ. You will not be taken down, but covered in his love. You will not give up, but stand firm.
Friends, you are H.I.S. Put your trust in Him. Dwell on these three points. Situationally, you’ll find things radically change. Keep hope and find yourself, in Him.
Just now, as I took a walk, I saw a twisted piece of plastic on a telephone line. Oddly, it was mangled and wrapped around the phone line in a way that seemed to make no sense.
This is how my mind is when I make a mistake. Remorse wreaks havoc in my mind, until I’m in a twisted mess of: I’ll never be good enough. I always make mistakes. I can’t get anything right. I’ll always offend God.
God doesn’t intend for us to live mangled; Jesus came so we could live untangled from shame.
So, what’s the problem with me?
The story of Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, has a little to say on this subject matter.
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse…and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.
“Remorse gripped Judas and he returned the money.” (Mt. 27:3)
Isn’t it amazing that he returned the money and was remorseful? Amazingly, this wasn’t enough.
Then, Judas said, “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” (Mt. 27:4)
He even realized his sin.
The priests replied, “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” (Mt. 27:4)
I only wish He’d talked to Jesus.
“…Then he went away and hanged himself.” (Mt. 27:5)
Remorse without repentance kills us internally. It leaves us in a balled up mess of self-condemnation, ridicule, embarrassment and shame. It kills our insides and has even been known to take a life.
What do you need to repent of? What do you need to release to God? What do you need to finally get over, so it doesn’t destroy you? The price Jesus paid is enough to cover over any mistake you’ve made. There’s nothing His grace won’t cover. Isn’t it about time you finally receive that grace and forgiveness too?
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Heb. 8:12)
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into the place of highest privilege where we now stand and confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” (Ro. 5:1-2)
When I need to confront a friend with an issue, I pray before.
When I finances go amuck, I pray.
When I desperately need something to change, I pray.
When I want breakthrough, I pray.
I pray kind of like this: “God, please, I need you.”
Like a kid, I lob my prayers upward, hard, hoping they’ll catch heavenly-hold. But inside, I wonder and I fear. I fear they’ll back at me and expose me as a fool. That they’ll return void.
Prayer sometimes feels like wishful thinking. We want, but we aren’t sure if we will get. We ask, but we wonder if we’ll be left empty-handed. We once dreamed and never saw things come to pass.
We write off verses like this:
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mk. 11:24 NIV
Why? Because we’ve gotten jaded, over-spiritual, and cynical. Or, at least I have.
Rather than praying, believing, contemplating and thanking God for the outpouring of his blessing, I groan and moan over the issue. I doubt it will ever change. I remain unprepared to receive his better thing and stay unstable in doubt.
“Prayer doesn’t work,” I think.
But prayer isn’t broken. My faith is.
In Hebrews 11, God highlights what great faith looks like:
“By faith, these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them.” Heb. 11:33 NLT
Faith is not just measured as the by-product of doing. It is also measured in the believing that is tied to receiving. If we pray for friends but don’t want to answer the phone when they call, guess what? Our prayer will go unanswered. It is not because God didn’t give, it is often because we didn’t receive.
We “must believe” that God “rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Heb. 11:6 NLT)
We must pray in belief that God rewards those who sincerely seek him. It is that simple.
God will reward my search of him. God will come through with this prayer. I can believe and trust Him to show up on this. I don’t know the how but I know the Who and that is enough. I can’t wait to receive the answer God has for me on this very thing. I can rest in his care with great expectation.
This kind of prayer works and this kind of faith pleases God.