Purposeful Faith

Category - grace

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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A Peace-Bringing Psalm

My son kept asking, “Mom, am I going be okay? How many people are dying? Will Coronavirus get us?” When he asked, his eyes darted left and right and his hands fidgeted with jerk-like motions.

I tried to address every question, but head-knowledge hardly appeases a heart. He needed more… More than a know-it-all momma, he needed a heart-assuring Papa. Papa God.

Fortunately, my little 8-year old found his way to Psalm 91. After reading it, a sense of calm fell over him and, he said, “I am going to memorize this whole thing.” He did. Then, he prayed it over himself and the virus. Quite suddenly, peace, power, and strength returned to him. He was all of a sudden ready to battle, instead of walking like a defeated-foe.

In fact, my son, Michael, was so excited about Psalm 91 he wanted to share his learning with everyone. He did a video on Facebook about Psalm 91.  Don’t miss it! I know it will bless you. May it encourage you too!

Beyond this, I am including Psalm 91 here today. I believe it will bring sudden peace, power, and strength as you read it aloud, as you accept it in your heart and as you pray it over yourself. Don’t miss this chance. Join hands with the Prince of Peace to receive his peace. Reach out to him and you’ll find him.

God’s power is enough to keep and protect you. You are not alone. God is with you, my dear friend.

You have this! I believe in you. I am praying for you… I love you.

Psalm 91 (NLT)

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

Be blessed my friends. I love you. I am here for you.

Prayer: Father, may each of us, children, know how much you love, protect and keep us. May we rest in your love. May we run to your shelter. May we trust you to save us. We love you, Jesus. Amen.

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Clean-Up Day!

I can’t handle a dirty, crumb-laden counter when I sit down to write. Before I place my computer on my black-granite counter, I need to have a clean counter. I need to have fresh space I can work on. I need to have the ability to work without a million little pieces surrounding me.

This lets me focus on what most matters.

I wipe it all down before I start. I get it ready. I prepare my surroundings so I see the bigger thing, God, without little things getting in the way.

I believe God loves it when we come to Him with clean hearts too. Here, as I’ve discovered it, rather than Him needing to address a million little stray things, He can bring us deeper into Him.  Here, He has fertile soil to do His best work. Here, brings us deeper levels of wisdom through His Word and through prayer.

There isn’t so much ancillary work to be tackled.

Just like we come to communion with God by clearing out things that are not of Him — so that we can meet Him. Today, I strongly feel God desires us to clear our table of what blocks us, distracts us or keeps us from Him.

What is that for you?

Is it an over-spill of self-wrath? Have you been talking to yourself like the accuser of the brethren?
Is it grimy fear of the future? Has it been building up in you?
Is it 1000 crumbs of daily distraction? Are they filling your mind more than God?
Is it the overwhelming clutter of worries? Do they make you feel like you have to handle things rather than God?
Is it the boiling anger you have at a child? Is it all you see?

Clean tables meet God in more intimate and free ways. There isn’t as much stuff to get ready before the real food is set on the table. This way, you seek Jesus — and you find Him, in a fresh way. You move past the clutter and behold His heart.

Today, be still and let God search your heart. His best roads are ahead of you — but, to find them, let the blockages be cleared. So you can find your roads to eternal abundant life. . .

Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life. (Ps. 139:23-24 MSG)

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The Free Gift that Surpises Me

“Mom. . . ! You promised you would bring money.”

The only thing was, I didn’t.

“You are always forgetting it.” He was right about that. I’d once again forgotten, to grab the couple dollar bills to buy him a treat. The man in a pick-up truck on the side of the road had been selling boiled peanuts for weeks and my son desperately wanted to try them. I felt bad, but I didn’t have the money. It just was what it was. I told him to continue walking home.

My son’s eyes darted across the street at the man while we moved. His sister and I carried on, headed home. That is — until the man got out of his pick up. The strong-build man, peanut bag-in-hand, headed across the street. Towards us.

Was there any way he heard us? No, that couldn’t be. We were too far away.

He walked up and said something. A car passed by and I didn’t quite hear him, so I answered, “We don’t have money.”

He replied, “If I wanted you to have money, do you think I would have said, ‘have these for free.'”

Wow. After my son accepted the nuts and we parted ways, I told him, “Son, that was a complete gift from God — to you. Out of nowhere that guy came over and gave you what you didn’t deserve — for free. It’s like God knew.”

And, so it is with Jesus. He gave us what salvation we didn’t deserve — for free. He gives us, so many times, what blessings — we don’t deserve — for free. And, He blesses us in ways we don’t even expect — without deserving it — for free.

He gifts us time and time again.

Keep on the lookout for Jesus. His grace is so powerful it will cover you. It will bless you. It will make a way for you. It will give things to you. It will help you. It will provide for you.

Don’t lose hope; keep the faith. God’s amazing; He provides when you least expect it — even when you do nothing to deserve it. We have so much to give thanks for.

“Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” (Jo. 1:16)

 

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It’s for Your Protection

Three times.

I am not even kidding with you all. Three times, my car got hit by people.

The first-time was a hit-and-run. My husband parked the car in a mall parking lot and when he returned to the parking garage there was a huge dent in the back.

The second time we were at the outlets. I got my daughter a little dress there and, when we got back, a huge football-sized dent was now a part of it.

The third time, my husband and kids were out. A guy reversed and put a hole right into the front bumper.

I drive around now with a triple-dented vehicle.

I’m not really sure how or why this is happening.  I’m kind of wondering about it. .  .

Are you in a situation where you are saying, “Why, God, why?”

Why am I here?
Why am I not out of this hole?
How come this is happening; it is not my fault?

For our family, we have to pay a lot of money to get the majority of these costs fixed.

Why, God?

1 Thess. 5: 18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances.”

All? All things? How you give thanks when life is acting on you? When you feel like you’re the victim? When everything is deteriorating before your very eyes?

I couldn’t stop getting frustrated at the dents (and now the sunroof and trunk weren’t working too -grr…). That is. . . until my husband stopped me, as he said, “Kelly, you just don’t see it. What you see as demolition, is really God’s protection.”

Huh? It is?

He went on, “All of those hits could have been huge accidents. Our kids could have been hospitalized. The car could have been demolished. People could be in the hospital. But none of this happened. Sure, there were hit-and-runs and fender-benders — but, we are fine.”

He is right: We are fine. And, I realized: I’ve been acting wrong.

God has been protecting me all along. I just didn’t have eyes to see it. Sometimes it is easy to get so caught up in our misfortunes, we miss the picture of His greater protection.

How has God been protecting you? Where might you need to stop, and say, “Thank you, God”?

Prayer:

Father, it is easy to see what is coming against. Often, it is hurtful, painful or costly. We know when it hits. But, at the same time, will you help us see you in all things? So we can give thanks in all things? So many times you are keeping and protecting; helping and guiding; leading and loving us — even in the worst of times. Give us eyes to see you and a heart to understand what you are doing. Forgive us for all the thanks we have failed to rightfully give to you — the things we could not perceive. I thank you, although it is so hard, for my trials. In many ways, it is teaching me to rightly come to you, rely on you and find all my hope in you. This is good. You are good. I trust in you. I trust your plan. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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The Power of Words

Our words have power.

Perhaps, you hear those words-of-old still reverberating within you. . .

You’re SO __.

You’ll always be ___.

You’ll never ___.

You’re such an ___.

No matter who you were – a child, a dreamer or vulnerable one, negative words like these can hurt us. They don’t always have to be spoken to be damaging, either. A picture or a face can say in a moment what the thousand-word put-down could never say.

Recently, I heard a mom inform a daughter, “You’ll never get that award for good character. You’re mean like me.”

Upon hearing this, my head sank down and my heart nearly cried out. I could almost imagine the girl thinking, “I guess I won’t try next year. My mom knows who I am. I’ll never be good enough for that kind of good award.”

At the same time, how many times have I proclaimed things that bind people?

“You’re like me. . . you’re so. . .”

“You are not clean.”
“You never listen.”

Jesus spoke differently. He spoke “to proclaim good news to the poor. . . to proclaim freedom for the prisoners. . . recovery of sight for the blind. . .(and) to set the oppressed free,. . .”  (Lu. 4:18)

To talk restorative words, like Jesus, I must do 2 things:

ONE: Forgive the people who spoke things over me — and receive God’s truth. 

You always __, you never __, you are so __, you can’t __, or you are a burden-type of statements of old must be recognized. Who said them to you?  Forgive these people. Why? Not because they deserve it, but because Christ didn’t “deserve it”, but still paid the price for you.

Seek the Word, God’s heart and through prayer obtain the actual truth about yourself. For some it may be: I am growing in this area. I am not an idiot or stupid, but wise through Christ generously gives wisdom to all who ask (Ja. 1:5). I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. I am now holy, blameless and pure, because of Jesus.

TWO: Resolve to speak blessings. 

Decide to speak blessings. I realize, not every word can be a blessing, as we have to say things like, “Can you pass the butter?” but if it opposes Jesus’ words to — “set free, build up, send forth or proclaim freedom”, then censor it and don’t speak it. Look for the good. The worthy. Use encouragement. Do this, even with inner-words you speak towards yourself.

Also, be freed friend, there is absolutely no “perfection” in this process. Since I’ve started thinking about what I am speaking about, I have caught myself 50 times being too quick to speak. This is okay. God is faithful. He will teach us. He will free us. He will help us. He will give us eyes to see the good, both within our self and within others.

There’s grace for our going and for our speaking.

Amazingly, the more grace-filled words speak, the more they’ll exist within us. Rather than looking for the bad, we’ll start looking for the good, even within our own lives. As we redirect our words, our mind will hone in on the heartbeat of Christ.  Rather than going down dark and discouraging roads, we’ll hope on paths that speak and promise new life.

We can do this! I believe in you — and most importantly, Christ in you.

 

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