Purposeful Faith

Category - peace

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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Staying Strong Like Jesus

My young daughter looks at me and cries, “Mommy, I’m falling!” I know it’s a test. In actuality, her falling-off-the-couch body is just half a foot away from the ground. It doesn’t matter. For her, this is a test. She’s asking, “Mommy, can I trust you to catch me? To really be there for me?”

I’ve asked these very same questions of God during various trials. God, how will You possibly show up when my bank account is tens of thousands of dollars in debt? Will You be there for me when Multiple Sclerosis makes me unable to walk? Will You abandon me too, like those people did? Will You really be able to help me overcome my depression?

God, how can I be sure You’ll do what You promise? Especially when doubts exist.

Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re there today, facing fear, doubt, a boss who isn’t nice, a friend who hurt you, a husband who is absent, a daughter who is astray, a home that is too expensive, a dream unmet, or a wait never-ending.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my trials, it’s this: To respond reactively sinks me emotionally. However, to prepare proactively is to triumph. We triumph only through Christ who triumphed.

Why? Because Jesus the victory belongs to the Lord. And, He left us with a battle plan: His Word. We have a clear-plan from God.

I learn a lot from Jesus…

Jesus: Respected and honored appointed times for change. For instance, Jesus began ministry at the age of 30. (Luke 3:23) Why not earlier?
Jesus Did Not: Get to the age of 21 and demand a timing change from God by saying, “I am tired of waiting around. I am tired of seeing all these issues. I need to fix them now by doing something about them. I’ll die right now and save the world.”

Jesus: Trusted His Father’s ultimate plan to fight the battle and to win the war.
Jesus Did Not:
Retaliate, injure or fight the people accosting, intimidating, or threatening Him.

Jesus: Reached out to the convicted sinner next to Him on the cross.
Jesus Did Not: Focus only on Himself as He suffered.

Jesus: Used God’s Word as a shield to block the enemy darts and temptation.
Jesus Did Not
: Listen to the enemy’s talking points.

Jesus: Enlisted and equipped simple fishermen who accomplished unbelievable works.
Jesus Did Not: Enlist only perfect people to be His ministers after His death.

It doesn’t matter how things appear. With God, we’re always just a half-foot above the ground, even if it feels like we’re in a free-fall plummet. He protects. He helps. He calls. He equips. He guides. He answers. He strengthens.

“I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV)

There is a plan. God knows what He is doing.  We are right in the center of it.

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What I’ve Learned

I have learned something that has changed my family. It is simple and profound.

The learning is founded on these 2 concepts:

One: Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6)
Two: I follow Jesus.

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (My.16:24 ESV)

Note here: Jesus is not the Prince of Conflict. Nor the Prince of Double-Mindedness. Nor Prince of fear.

Here, in the busyness of my day — I can ask myself: Am I following and pursuing peace, or lesser things?

Doing this makes me a wiser decision-maker.

For instance, this helps me to:

– consider if hanging out with the friend with the gossipy-potty mouth will make bring me peace afterwords.
– if saying yes to the 60-hour a week job will create a peace-filled home.
– if debating my husband is increasing peace between us.

The amount or lack of peace in our life often is a good indicator of how we seek and follow Jesus in our lives.

Sometimes, often actually, I have to literally go the other direction from my feelings which seem to scream at me to attend to them.  Yet, when I do this, the result is almost always a million times better than the short-term pleasure of reacting. I can benefit in this way, when I take time to consider outcomes.

God is powerful enough to fight my battle!

Do you seek and pursue peace?

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14)

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God answers prayers!

God answers prayers.

A couple months back, I asked, “How can I pray for you?”  The response was overwhelming, so much so that I didn’t even think I could pray for everyone. But, I did.

And when I did, I somehow knew many would see breakthrough! I expected BIG answers. Why? For many reasons…

Because we serve a BIG God.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Eph. 3:20)

Because prayer moves mountains.

“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” (Mk. 11:23)

Because God answers prayers for those who believe.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mk. 11:24)

Because God hears those who don’t quit asking.

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?” (Lu. 18:4-7)

Friends, keep asking. Keep believing.  And, be persistent.

Requests sent up DO NOT fall on deaf ears. Actually, the time we spend speaking to God is far more effective than the time we spend speaking to anyone else about our issue. Prayer effects change, whereas small-talk  — sits us down in pain.

Prayer works.

For example, earlier this week, I got an email. It read:

Hi Kelly..

I trust this finds you well.

I was looking through my old emails and I came across this. Your prayer (for me) was answered totally and I just want to let you know I am very grateful…I won’t send you pictures but you would not believe it if I did.

Kindest regards…”

We pray, God listens. Even when we sleep, God doesn’t. He never sleeps.

“He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.”  (Ps. 121:3-4)

God moves, even when we don’t.

I got another email. This one read:

 “God finally answered a long-awaited prayer yesterday by blessing my husband with a new job right smack in the middle of a pandemic! And not just any job, a massive promotion to the executive level. Only God can perform such miracles and I believe he will do more miracles on the worldwide scale through this pandemic. I can’t wait to see what He does next!”

Friends —  prayers open up God’s miracles. So, let’s pray for one another. Your breakthrough could only be one prayer away. A sister’s breakthrough could be the difference between you lifting her up and you moving along to another online thing.

Dear ones, we need each other now more than ever. We ARE the body. And, this IS the church. More than grandiose sermons, ample programs or big church buildings — this basic, elementary practice of prayer is Jesus’ great vision for “church”. Let’s get back to the heart of the matter…

“And He said to them, “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer’” (Mt. 21:13 NASB)

Let’s pray:

Papa God, we ask for breakthrough for every person who reads this post today. We ask that you would extend such grace — such peace unexplainable and joy uncontainable that it would touch each and every one of us today. We ask that situations be transformed under your glory and grace.  Where there is fear, bring faith. Where there is devastation, rebuild. In the face of depression, bring healing and great devotion to you. I ask for life in the place of death and hope in the midst of disappointment.

As the body, we also pray that:
prodigal children, return home.
the sad, be comforted.
the sick, be healed with new strength.
the hungry, be fed.
the weak, be renewed.
the lost, be found.
the marital issues, be transformed.
the pride in us, be humbled.
the fearful, receive faith.
the pain, be sorted out.
the bitter ones, forgive.
the broken, find breakthrough.
those waiting, get wisdom.
the unseen, know your care.
the hopeless, find hope in you.
the bound up, proclaim Jesus.
all glory, makes it to your throne.

Jesus, you are — our answer, our hope, and our ONLY way.  In you, we place all our trust. Your way is our best way. In this, we lay down our good way, so that we walk your best way. Give us fresh vision to see and fresh ears to hear all you want us to understand in this hour. Make us, not just hearers of your Word, but understanders, who naturally become do-ers. May every bit and morsel of glory go to you. May we live all our life for: your glory, your honor, your acclaim and for your kingdom purpose! We pray in agreement. We lift all these things up to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

*Friends, if you find that God answered this prayer in a beautiful way, please share the testimony with me. I am expecting great things from our collective prayers. Thank you, Father God, that you hear us! We love you!

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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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God (Really) Loves You

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:4-8)

We often look at these verses and think, “This is how I need to act. This is how I should treat others. This is what I have to do to be loving. . .”

But, how often do we consider — this is how God loves us. . .

“God is love.” (1 Jo. 4:8)

With this, God is patient to you today. If you’re having a hard time changing, His grace is there to help on your way.

God is kind. His kindness can overpower your meanness to yourself if you allow His Words to become your words.

God is not envious, boastful or proud. He wants the best for you — without anything else. There’s no additional, “But. . .”, or exclusion, or disclaimer.

God is not dishonoring, self-seeking, or angry. While people may act one way, God’s way is the good-way, the right way, the heart-honoring way. Above people’s ways, you can always find His. This is a freedom-place for you.

God does not keep a record of your wrongs. The second Jesus died, He created-way for wrongs to be replaced with the righteousness of Christ. To receive Christ is to find relief.

God does not rejoice in evil, but delights in truth. Whereas the world may celebrate dysfunction and laud evil, God delights in truth as truth. What is hidden — He brings to light.

God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. He is always protecting you — and worthy of trust. He has all vision and plans in His hands. And, His love for you, will persevere all trials and hardships.

God’s love for you will: never fail.

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2 Prayers That Changed Everything

I’ll never really know all that God saved my son from, but what I do know is that protection came through one thing: prayer.

I visited my son at school during his lunch hour. Something about him seemed off lately. His eyes looked a little sad. His shoulders seemed a little slumped over. His spirit of wanting to play around seemed to be missing. I just wanted to sit with him. We had a great lunch hour. I didn’t pay attention to anyone or anything else, but him.

Yet, the next day when I was praying for my 5-year old, something incredible happened.  My words to God were normal. They sounded something like: “Father, please help my son. Whatever it is that is missing at school, please provide it for him. Wherever he feels sad, comfort him. Whatever it is, I need to do, let me see it. Help me to know what to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

I wrapped up my time of prayer, but immediately something came over me. It was a feeling — or a prompting — that hit me right after I prayed. It seemed God was nudging my heart back to my kid’s school for his lunch hour again.

“But, God, I just went there, yesterday,” I said.

No matter, obedience is obedience. I somewhat hesitantly lifted myself off my bed and hustled out the door.

Once there, at a table full of rambunctious kids, I opened my eyes a bit more, rather than honing in just on my son. Here, I saw things I did not see the previous day. I saw how some kids were making fun of him at the table. How they laughed at him because His face got a little messy. How there was a gang of boys at work. How they were fearless in their pursuit of him even with me by my son’s side. How they whispered with their hand cupped over their mouth. I saw the defeat on my son’s face.

How did I miss this before?

No matter, I thanked God on the drive home from that lunch. I now knew what I needed to do. There were other concerns with the school. We immediately decided to pull him out of the school. But, where would he go now?

Once again, I returned to prayer. My husband and I needed to know what school to send him to as we were new to the area. We prayed. We prayed. We prayed and prayed.

Then, one day, while eating dinner, we saw a young family pass by on a walk outside. We’d wanted to meet them for weeks, so we ditched our meal and ran outside. Once there, shaking hands, we learned that the man before us was the pastor of a school that many people had been telling us about. God brought him right to our door. He explained about the “no bullying” policy at his school.

What we asked for, God answered. Not once, but twice.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 Jo. 5:14-15 NLT)

These are not hollow words that we half-way believe, but The Living Word of God. They are true and at work in your life and in mine.

We pray. God hears.

We ask according to His will. We have confidence in it.

We ask like this. We “have” what we asked for.

God, through prayer, takes unseemly scenarios and flips them over. Time and time again. I could tell you countless stories.

What are you facing? What seems impossible? Where do you need wisdom? Ask God, believe He hears you, walk confidently in the prayer you prayed and trust Him to answer. Be open to how He may lead you.

He may speak through a person, a predicament, His Word or some unusual way like He did for me. But, God speaks. He answers. He hears. Your every prayer matters.

Today? My son is thriving at a school full of love and grace. God led Him to just the place He needed to be.

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Nothing Can Stop the Lord Almighty

I was telling my 5-year old daughter about a Jesus story. He’d been teaching people all day and now the people were hungry. The disciples recognized a problem; there were only 5 loaves and 2 fish.

My daughter looked at me, oddly. . .

“If I was them I’d say, ‘Bring what you have to Jesus!'” She said.

Childlike faith nearly screamed out of her, “Just bring it to Jesus already”, “He’ll do it!”, “He can do anything!”

So, today, let my daughter’s words speak to you afresh: Bring what you have to Jesus!

Even if it looks like not enough. . . Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough know-how. Not enough answers. Not enough knowledge. Not enough wisdom. Not enough ability to ___. Not enough ability yourself to fix it. Not the right past actions. Whatever.

Just bring it to Jesus; run up to Him and say, “Jesus, this thing I’ve been handling — or mishandling for that matter – feels impossible, ugly, and unfixable. Frankly, it’s an issue I don’t know what to do with. I need you to handle it for me. Give me wisdom and instruction. I ask you for a miracle answer. You can do it!”

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves…They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.”  (Mt. 14:19-20)

All of Jesus can take your “hardly anything”, and multiply it into more-than-enough, with leftovers. Don’t doubt.

Asking is humility. Trust is your answer.

“For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory.” (1 Jo. 5:4 NLT)

Do you trust? If not, today’s your day to start afresh. To defeat the evil rising against you. To stand up against what has pushed you down for far too long.

Nothing can stop the Lord Almighty. May we agree and trust in Him today.

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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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The Best Pause When Life Feels Frantic

Blog Post By  Angela Parlin

I love so many things about the month of December.

The memories, the gatherings, the excitement for what’s coming. Twinkle lights everywhere after dark. Remembering the story of Jesus’ birth with the angels and shepherds and a star leading souls toward a newborn King—the one who changed everything.

One of my favorite things is looking back to remember. Another favorite is looking forward. It’s the in-between that trips me up. Do you know what I mean?

I’m at that point in December—like every other year—where I feel buried by the schedule and all the many to-do’s. It’s like I have to keep running, running, running–to make this pick-up time and that deadline and those purchases and these events. None of it is too much, on its own. But add it all together, and I’m one frazzled Mom.  

Today, however, I read a passage that transformed my frantic feelings, and I wondered if you need this too. Do you need to press pause on all the things, in the middle of December, in order to behold the glory of God?   

I know a place where we can always go–not to hide from our lives but to find refuge instead.

I hope you’ll come with me. Let’s dig into the Word of God, and let Him do His beautiful thing in our hearts. Right now. Today. 

I hope you’ll spend some time reading these scriptures, and read the passages around them as well. I like to copy the words by hand, sometimes on a colored card or along the edges of my day planner…yes, I still use paper planners. 😊 You may want to read them repeatedly, even memorize them. Any time you spend focusing on the Lord will be a gift to you.

5 Places to Pause When Life Feels Frantic

There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 1 Samuel 2:2 (NIV)

Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? Exodus 15:11

For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? 2 Samuel 22:32

I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:1-2  

I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:5-6

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.