Purposeful Faith

Category - grace

Regaining Hope

The reality is, my husband would give me the shirt off his back. He also would lay down what is good for him for the betterment of me. He has sacrificed much so that I can write and pursue ministry work. He gives up things for me. He thinks of me. He helps when I don’t know what to do. He shares wisdom and tips and ideas. He is there when my head gets droopy; he picks up my chin. He shares his heart with me too. He tells me things he wouldn’t tell others.

My husband is my friend. I call him, “my best friend.”

Some of you may be thinking, “I don’t have a friend like this.”

To you, I want to explain, “Jesus is your friend like this…”

He says, “I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” (Jo. 15:15-17)

Note: everything Jesus learned from the Father he made known. Even today, by the Spirit, He continues to make all things known: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (Jo. 14:26)

Friends share deep things with friends. They share hidden truths. They bring to light what is true. They walk together. They talk together. They laugh together. They cry together. They dream together.

Friends love to take care of their friends. When I see a friend in need, I do my best to — show up. I want to know how they are.  I check-in.

You have a friend in Jesus. He is teaching and reminding you of important things through the Holy Spirit. He is there for you. If you can’t remember the last time you felt close to God, maybe you’ve forgotten that He not only is your Lord but that He also is your friend.

Oh, what a friend you have in Jesus! Lean your heart close to Him and ask Him to share some of the deep treasures. Connect with Him in Spirit and in truth.

Prayer: Father God, I thank you for your Son, Jesus. Oh, what a friend I have in Jesus. I also thank you for the Holy Spirit who leads, teaches, and comforts. Fill me afresh today with your Holy Spirit so that I might be full of you and your love (Eph. 5:18). Fill me afresh so that I might be led by you. Fill me so that I may worship and love you, with all my heart. Fill me so that I may know you more.

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God Fights For You

There’s nothing worse than believing God for victory, only to experience defeat.

Has that ever happened to you?

Recently, I prayed and prayed, without change. I praised, without a breakthrough.  I hoped, but I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere.

Even now, I need God for everything, yet I wonder how he can possibly show up — in this situation. What if I am left with nothing? 

Fear wants to grip me. It tries to make me focus on the natural over God’s supernatural power.

God, will you really provide? Show up? Help? Can I trust You, God?

The Israelites are a bit like me: They saw the Egyptian troops chasing them down. They got overwhelmingly terrified. They must have figured they were incapable.. They were seemingly angry at their leader, Moses.

Upset with themselves and unable to hold-it-in they even griped, “What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:11-12, NIV)

Slavery was more appealing than trusting God for victory.

I’m like them when I say:

Why am I here, God? Where are you, God? Why haven’t you ____, God? This doesn’t make any sense, God!

Moses replied to the Israelites, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14, NIV)

As I’m still, God fights. Wow. This is incredible. Beyond natural sight is God’s greater fight. Far more effective than worry is my Warrior, God. He is bigger than any big issue I face. And stronger than the very definition of the word — strong, as I understand it.

God can accomplish more in a split-second than I can produce in my whole life. I want the work to be His, not mine. He can do anything at any time.

Our God, while we are still — fights on our behalf. Are we letting Him fight for us or are we griping, opining, complaining, and doubting?

God is working, even when you can’t see it.

It doesn’t matter if it looks like God is late. Or, if you would have done it another way. Or, if you can’t really understand. Still, God’s way is the best way.

A kid can’t understand why he gets a novocaine shot at the dentist, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t good reason.

You know, when the Israelites lost faith, God instructed Moses to tell them something. He said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to move on.” (Exodus 14:15) I believe God is saying the same today:

Move on from unbelief.
Move on from fearing your battle.
Move on from counting everything as a deterrent.
Move on from your old outlooks.
Move on from your self-limiting beliefs.
Move on from the idea there is no good plan.

And, trust God to fight your battle. You do this by: making space for God, listening to His heartbeat through His Words, and through ‘saying yes’.

God’s plan is good. Even here, in this instance, He had good reason for doing what He did.  It was so He could gain glory.

“Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground…And I will gain glory through…The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” (Exodus 14:16-18, NIV)

And so the Israelites moved. The miracle happened. The sea parted. And God got all His glory. The Egyptians knew who was God.

Friend, don’t lose hope; there is a good plan in motion.

 

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Are You Headed the Wrong Way?

Today, I completely missed my turn. I took a new route to the supermarket and, because I thought the entrance would look the same as before, I drove right past it. I knew the store would be on the left. However, because I  came from a different direction, it was on the right.

Because I expected an old thing, I missed the new. Likewise, many of us — looking for an old thing — miss God’s new. We expect people to hurt us like yesterday, so we stay in our house, away from relationship and, yet again — we are hurt. We expect our finances to never change, so we don’t bother changing anything and live continually strapped. We expect our kids to never change so we dismiss them because they’ve hurt us and God’s love doesn’t reach them.

We go our way, yet God has — His way. One we may not even be able to perceive.

Today, what if we were to open our eyes up to perceive that God may have for us — a new way?

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Is. 43:19)

Be it yesterday or today, Isaiah or Romans, Moses or Paul, God continually does new things. He breaks through. He restores. He transforms. He offers new life. New opportunities. Healing. Help.

The question is not — “Is God Healer, Helper, and Restorer?” The question is — “Do we believe Him to be these things?”

Where might God want you to perceive His new? If you have been banging your head in one particular area, this is a sign that God may be calling you to do things a new way. If you feel constantly stuck, look out for His new way. If you feel like there must be more, expect Him to show you something new.

All His ways are good.

Prayer:

God, help me to perceive your leading and direction. I don’t want to be so stuck in an old thing that I can’t walk into your new thing for me. I thank you that transition and change are part of your heart. I thank you that as I wait on you that you will renew my strength. Today, I choose to trust your leading and guidance. I trust you to provide and to help me. I ask that all I do, think and say might bring glory to you. Help me to trust and love you even more. Thank you that I can do this by laying down my ways and by trusting yours. In Jesus’ mighty name I pray. Amen

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Don’t Lose Hope

lose hope

I want to encourage you. With God, there’s always a way.

You may be saying, I don’t know how… Or, I don’t have enough… Or, it doesn’t look like it is possible.

God is not beholden to the natural; He is the Orchestrator of the supernatural.

Mary probably thought, there is no way that I can carry “the son of the Most High” (Lu. 1:32). It must have seemed preposterous when an angel said she would. But, with God, she did — it happened — she birthed the Son of God.

David must have figured he’d end up managing sheep all his life. King? I wonder if he thought that impossible. Sure enough, Samuel, the prophet, passed by His strong, and probably good-looking, brothers and picked David. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” (1 Sam. 16:12)

The Lord promoted David, independent of looks.

It wasn’t until more than a decade later that David became King. Sure, he could have thought, forget this, God has forgotten me. But, God never forgot. He doesn’t forget you, either.

God is outside of time, yet always on time.

God showed up and David became King.

Don’t lose hope. God is always on time. He is independent of your perfection, your bank account, or your perfect actions. God is always faithful. And, right on time.

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Where’s My Passion?

Where’s the passion I used to have? The determination to run with strength? The boldness?

I hear people think-out-loud along these lines. They wonder how their motivation disappeared, or why they procrastinate or feel so stuck. They can’t seem to rev their wheels anymore. They get stuck in the mud.

I relate.  I’ve tried to get started on certain projects and then they’ve just — fallen through. Not all the issues are me, but still — the outcome feels embarrassing.

Ever been there? Maybe you have a big dream but you haven’t followed through. You have hopes for a relationship. You want to stop a bad habit. Or, go a new way…but you just can’t seem to succeed. There seems to be a stopper right ahead of you.

This morning, this verse spoke to me in a powerful way:

“So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us…”  (Heb 12: 1-2)

I must let go — to go. It is only by letting go of old wounds and sin that I can run ahead.  For, no one can run effectively ahead while looking back. To run looking behind you is to run into things. To bang yourself up. Reconsidering and rehashing (aka. looking back) prohibits one from seeing the good thing God has ahead.

I realize I must (REALLY) let go of what lays behind me. Only then, can I “run life’s race with passion and determination.” Only then can I easily go down God’s path already “marked out” before (me).

God offers me a new beginning today. He gives you one too! Wonder is knowing that Jesus presents us with an endless amount of new beginnings. Today you start over. Repent if you need to… Then, you trust that the Author and Perfector of faith, Jesus Christ, is doing His best work. Believe that the Shepherd of all shepherds is protecting you from what happened in days of old. Fully rely on The Light of the World to illuminate your world in an exciting and joy-filled way.

When we look ahead at the beauty of Him, we won’t as much want to look back. Instead, I believe, we’ll move with fervor, passion, and excitement, like never before. We’ll be able to perceive the light of His goodness ahead. We will focus on Jesus, and with Him, we’ll go again.

Prayer: God, give us the grace to let go of what lays behind. We don’t want to look back anymore and miss what is ahead. Come and help us to look to Jesus, constantly. Give us undivided attention and renewed fervor. We love you. We want to live all-out for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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God’s Love Never Fails

I stood at the front door, waving bye to my husband…

He was flying to a different state to be at his father’s bedside (keep him in your prayers).

Frankly, I didn’t know when he’d get home and this was okay. Not too long after he left, I sat down and started scrolling on Facebook.

I remembered Mother’s Day was Sunday. I figured I’d be home alone, in quarantine, with two kids, no church, and some potato chips to quell my feelings. The more I sat there, the more I wished some friends would drop by to wave hi, call, drop off something or give me a bag of chocolate. My mind was fantasizing about being loved. But, I knew it wouldn’t happen.

No one is coming. No one knows me, here, really…

Being hard on myself, I berated my actions over the past six months: I’ve been busy. I’ve had too many things to do. I’ve been focused on other issues. I haven’t been a good enough friend.

No one will care for me, because I haven’t cared enough for them.

As I sat there, I determined post-social distancing that I would be the friend I want.

I would do this through:
– Availability: I would make time and space to meet with key people. I wouldn’t wait to be invited, but I would become an  — inviter.

– Intentionality: I would go deeper with these people. I would seek to encourage, love, and help others, recognizing their times of need.

– Transparency: I would seek to be honest with others, about where I am at — allowing them to encourage me, offer hope, and help. It’s okay to cry, with the right people. I can share my story and listen to theirs.

To have a friend, I must be a friend. I tucked that lesson in my pocket and went on with my day. But, it wasn’t a short time later that I got a text. A woman I loved knew I was home alone. She invited me to her house for dinner.

God touched my heart: He does see me. He knows exactly where I am.

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

I guess I haven’t been a horrible friend, after all…

The next day, I didn’t get one, but a ton of loving messages. I am loved! It is funny how our mind tricks us and tells us that we’re down and out, left behind and unwanted.

Lies.

God’s love tells us a different story: He knows our story. He sees us. He always takes care of us. He always provides. He always helps us out of our pits. He has gone the Calvary Road distance to save us. His love never quits. While we may have times alone or things may not feel right, His love will always be there for us.

“God’s love never fails.” (Ps. 136:1)

 

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You Won’t Get it Right All The Time!

You won’t get it right, all the time.

Last Thursday, as the blog post I wrote about “patience” hit your inbox, let me tell you — my patience was running thin. Here I was telling you why you should be patient, yet, I was snapping at my kids…

What I thought I had it figured out when I wrote the post on Tuesday, was an issue again on Thursday!

The fact of the matter is — we don’t get it right, all the time.

Some of us need to hear this loud and clear today: you won’t get it right all the time. You’ll yell when you meant to be sweet. You’ll sweat when you should have stayed cool. You’ll be anxious when you determined to have peace. You’ll doubt when you determined to believe.

You’ll say to yourself, “Why can’t I do better? Be better? Act better?”

You may put your head down, in defeat. Yet, I imagine, God lifts it up again, whispering in your ear, “Child, I still love you. Even though…  Always…”

Let that relief sink in…  You see, where we are human; God is grace. Where we feel “fed up and ready to head out”; God still wants us. Where we are moody; God is constant.

Oh, how I celebrate this! He wants me, He wants me, He wants me. Even during all my — there I go again… why can’t I… I only wish…moments. He wants you too. It is His love that changes us. His love lifts us out of our pit of condemnation and sets us on a path of transformation, so we don’t do that thing we hate that we do.

Rest under His ever-flowing grace.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

It is not by your work that you change — lest you boast.

Little-by-little, step-by-step, it is God who carries us up and out of our old pit to new actions and reactions.  He gets the credit. He owns the work. We meet Him as he prompts our new steps, sure, but he ultimately transforms and conforms us to His image, not to a pattern of repeat-wrongs.

Acceleration comes, in this process, by receiving grace. Otherwise, you strive and then seek to take credit for His glory. Or, you start comparing your self-righteousness against the next girls.

No. Grace is a gift and, through it, all glory belongs to the Lord.

Do you see the beauty here?

There is rest available to you. Accept His grace. Open your hands. Allow God to change you, renew you, free you, form you and fashion you. Obey Him as He leads. You are His masterpiece and His possession. He cares for you.

The Master is at work. Rather than putting your eyes on what you do wrong, confess, and put your eyes back again on Him. He will shape you. Entrust yourself into His hands. And, He will do it.

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Staying Calm and Wise

I was pretty sure: I knew my husband’s problem. I knew what was causing him issues — the thing he couldn’t quite put his finger on… I also knew what would help him and change his ways. All the same, I also knew it wasn’t the time, the place, the hour to tell him.  It wouldn’t go over well.

While my every emotion said, “Tell him, now. Get it out, already.” Wisdom said, “Stay quiet, Kelly. Wait.”

Grr…

Ever been there? You almost certainly have because we are all — living on top of each other! Here, more than ever, we easily see things about people: their quirks, annoyances, little things they need to know, and everything they should do.

In this environment, it can be easy to voice to quick advice. Or, to problem-solve with rapid-fire solutions. Or, to offer missile-like snap-backs at a moment’s notice.

What is annoys you? How do you react and respond? What do you voice and verbalize?

With my husband, in this case…I listened to wisdom; I didn’t speak. Instead, I prayed about God making-known the issue to him. About three days later, my husband approached me and said, “Kelly, what do you think about….?”

I told him everything. He listened and changed course.

I learned something critical here: more important than what I do say is what I don’t say. A withheld-word is wisdom-in-action. It is the difference between a person knowing my opinion and God’s breakthrough.

“A man of knowledge restrains his words, and a man of understanding maintains a calm spirit.” (Prov. 17:27 Berean Bible Study)

More than my knowledge my husband needed God’s breakthrough. More than my kids hearing my complaint, they need a positive environment. More than me having every answer, may my family experience Father God’s leading. More than perfection, may we all embrace grace.

There is so much that doesn’t need to be said — so that Jesus can speak a better word.

The less I say, the more room they have to hear.

Prayer: Father God, may we have the wisdom to know what to speak, when to pray, and how to say what needs to be said. May we be thoughtful about our home environment and how our words affect it. May we be life-bringers instead of hope-stealers. May we walk in an abundance of wisdom. May we trust you to do the work, our mouths are inclined to do. May you breakthrough in every area of need as it pertains to our relationships. You are a much better teacher and instructor than we are. We call for you help today. You have the best answers. We lean on you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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God’s Divine Protection

peace

I was amazed. My daughter didn’t fall once; she fell two times, nearly unscathed. In both instances, she rounded a turn on her bike and skidded out. Her wheels flipped over and her body hit the ground, with force. Tears welled up in her eyes.

She had been riding fast. Her helmet flew off her head. But, when I asked her where she was hurt, she didn’t know. There was only but the smallest scrape on her. She escaped, nearly untouched…

“For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.” (Ps. 27:5)

For in the day of trouble, in the hour of trouble, in the moment of trouble…God is here. Emanuel. God with us.

“God with us” sends His angels to guard us. His power to keep us.  His wisdom to guide us. He is over all and in all.

We don’t know every detail of how He protects us. Or, why He doesn’t protect others.  We don’t fear what has come upon other men. We don’t fear the plague that may befall us. Don’t get entrapped with another man’s story. God deals with each of us as He chooses.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” (Prov. 29:25)

Keep your eyes on your own lane. Keep your attention on your own family. Keep your words headed up to heaven. Trust God’s provision and protection to fall down on you. He has you covered. Choose to stay under the protection of his wing and not to wander elsewhere.

Prayer: Father, thank you that you are above all. You are over all. You are ruling all. We declare you as Lord over everything we face and see. We are not wavered by the news, by people or by fear. We stand under the shadow of your wing. We choose to place ourselves under your loving-care and put ourselves under your protection. You have us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

You are a blessing, brothers and sisters in Christ. I love you, beyond measure. My hope is that I can bring much of His treasure, back to you… XOXO!

 

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Am I Good Enough?

That I would be good if I didn’t encourage everyone…
That I would be good if I didn’t raise my hand to serve…
That I would be good if I had nothing to say…
That I would be good if I was sick for the rest of my life…
That I would be good if I didn’t say wise things…
That I would be good if I was never seen…
That I would be good if I didn’t get everything right…

That I would be good if, aside from doing things or being things for you, I was still loved. The most basic desire is to know: we are still loved, even though. Apart from what we do… Apart from what we say… Apart from what we bring… Apart from how we appear…. We are still — wanted.

Do you ever feel that you have to do, to be, or to have things — to be loved. To feel wanted?
One of the greatest freedoms I’ve ever experienced is to experience: God love — no matter what.

“…Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” (Ro. 8:38)

We are so in God’s love, no lack of us can ever pull us out of it. We are still good even when we’re bad. We are still wanted, even when we don’t want to say yes. We are still cared for even when we don’t care to have or be like everyone else. This gift? Jesus’ gift, the leeway to be free, is — lavish.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

When Jesus looks at me, despite my sin, my mistakes, my lack, my situation, my appearance — He sees His righteousness and holiness. It is incredible! I am loved, always. I am wanted, always. I am cared for, no matter what.

This is no license to disobey or to do whatever I want. On the contrary, this is a license to freely love and obey God with all my heart — not from the place of burden but from a heart that is truly blessed. This difference makes all the difference. We’ve seen people serve from burdened obligation. Even when they act their best and do amazing works, they still have a small huff-and-puff about them or high-and-mighty self-righteous attitude. They tell everyone about it. But, one who serves because they are loved and free? Oh, the joy of it! Oh, the heart of it! Oh, the connection with God! No one ever has to know.

Where might you be working out of burden and obligation rather than out of freedom and a loved-position? Have you ever considered that you are not earning, through obedience, favor with God? You already have it.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you that we are now, because of you: holy, blameless and righteous in your eyes. We are wholly wanted. We are chosen. We are loved, no matter what. We are positioned in you and you are in us. May we never lose eyes for you, our first love. May we serve and love others from a pure heart, rather than a heart that tries to prove its own worth. We love you Jesus. Even if we do nothing, you still love us. Even if we make mistakes you still love us. Even if we never amount to much, you still love us. You are amazing. You are incredible. You are almost unbelievable, except, we believe. We believe you love, want and have chosen us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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