Purposeful Faith

Category - peace

Staying Faithful When Issues Mount

When Issues Mount

They start small until they climb on your back and squeeze the air of faith right out of you.

They have a way of making the stack of  bills reign higher than the power of God.

The medical issues stand taller than God’s capacity to care.

The relational problems break you into tears rather than into submission to the One who knows.

They are called mounting issues. Personal. Medical. Relational. Financial. Mental.

They take you on a ride like this:

1. You start with faith, looking straight ahead at God.
2. You talk with people, think of the issue and dwell on the problem and get afraid.
3. Your eyes start to look left, and right and left and right.
4. Your worst nightmare starts to take form.
5. You become sure of it’s overwhelming power to take you down.

Then they make you feel like this:

I’m going down.
It will never work out.
God, where are you?
They will always hate me.
I will never recover.
I will never be left the same.
I can’t do it.
I am horrible.

Problems of today have a way, of making us fear the feelings of yesterday.

I remember the fortress of my school.
The incapability of one girl who was powerless to change anything.
Who was uncertain about the next pain that may come my way.
Who felt the result of people’s issues rather than a product of their love.
I remember the embarrassment.

That past mocks all my dreams.
It reminds me that pain will repeat.

It reminds me I either need to fight or flight. 

What does the past claim true about you – today?

The reality is – it’s gone,
and fighting proves worthless
because you can’t fight something that isn’t real;
if it’s not truth it simply doesn’t exist.

But, hushing away feelings never works. The only way to go is to see the one who sees far more than the stalker of fear living in your mind. To see the one who waits, looking, hoping, believing that you will see him – the one who is always following you.

And, while you may think it is over, he doesn’t.

He knows it has only just begun.

Because he is ready to come close, to know, to stay with. He is ready and willing to aid and assist.

He is amazing that way.

He sees the inadequate, unable, and unsure one and says, “You can do it with me, because of me and for me. Stay right there with that truth. You will be okay.”

He spoke these same kind of words to Joshua -the second string, the rookie.
He spoke belief into a man who had monumental issues in front of him: uncertainty, a sea that stood in his way and a towering fortress shining his incapabilities.
He said, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Josh 1:5

What if God was to show up and to say that to you?

“Hey (fill in name here),
I was with Moses,
so I will be with you (name),
I will never leave you or forsake you.”

Might these words make a difference?

Might you remember the bush, the manna, the Red Sea, the God, the hope,
the promises, God’s faithfulness to you?
Not if you just heard them, but if you really believed them.

Perhaps, then, you, like Joshua, might think,
“Wow, this God is really for me.”

Perhaps then you would have the courage to open your sea of despair to allow a new heart of courage to carry you to your promised hope.
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Josh. 3:5

Perhaps then, you might set your forehead-to-floor knowing one stands higher than all your perceptions.
Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” Josh. 5:14

You might even hear the way to go, the heart to have and the whispers of truth
rise above the status of your bank account, your health check-up or your kid’s report card.

You might even have the heart to march around what stands against you to shout the truth of God over it, around it and before it to see God work through it.  And to, even, maybe, see it all fall down (if that is what God has planned for you).

On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” Josh 6:4-5

Imagine seeing the walls of pain and piles of grief standing before you crumble. They aren’t bigger than your God.

The truth is that in all cases he may not make them completely disappear, but God has the power to crumble circumstances authority over your feelings. He has the authority to set you on a new path, to forge a new way to bring you into the promised land of his peace.

Hear the words the Lord said to Joshua as he was preparing to be courageous and do not let them lightly pass over you (seize them as he seized the city): “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Josh 1:9)

Mounting issues, the past and our feelings are not our inheritance, God’s promises are – and we have already made it to the Promised Land, let’s lay claim to it much like the Israelites.

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3 #RaRalinkup Updates:
1.  Sign up for the NEW Cheerleaders 4 Christ #RaRa Facebook group page (this is different than the prayer one I set up). We will be rolling out a new element to the #RaRalinkup that I want you to be a part of. Details are forthcoming soon. Join here.

2. RSVP for the #RaRalinkup breakfast at She Speaks. Exciting news, prizes and challenges will be shared at this event.

3. Visit next Monday. All of the bloggers who submitted guest posts will be featured on July 13. I couldn’t pick just one, this is not the spirit of the #RaRalinkup or this blog. All win, all are chosen, all are loved! Mark this day in your calendars. Support your sisters by retweeting and mentioning them on Twitter. 🙂

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Knowing Worship

Knowing Worship

This may be the oddest blog post you have ever read, but I am just going to go with it – brace yourself…

My writing chair, is more of a writing chaise, it faces my patio where I watch birds peck around for their next God-promised meal, pesky groundhogs graze on my grass and raccoons duck their heads into the light.

But, what my eye is drawn to the most is that small, sweet little chipmunk – the one that so often pounces around my (ahem, dead) flowers.

I love these little chipmunks. They are so sweet, so precious, so free of long tails, glowing night eyes and stinky smells. They touch my heart because when I look at them – I see innocence.  Pure, humble innocence. Not savage instinct, but a joyful presence. They are the good amidst the smelly. The humble amidst the powerful.

Christ kind of looks this way too – the spotless lamb that shines out among dirty humanity.
The pure vessel amidst the ugliness of sin.
The joy to behold in a world that has a ravage hunger for everything it can consume.

“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 1 Pet. 2:22

Singular purity.
All-encompassing morality.
The definition of unity.

Jesus – a walking breathing sacrifice, always giving, completely offering, genuinely treading earth for those who need his touch – a spotless, sweet, pure and whole example.

And, while the chipmunk is no equal to the Savior of the World, the chipmunk surely has been created by him. And, he shines his glory all the same, because all creation has been made in adoration.

all things have been created through him and for him. 1 Col. 1:16

I guess this is why God kind of stopped me in my tracks this morning (literally).

You see, as I drove my car, I saw him. Right in the center of the road – my chipmunk.

Dead. Pure. Humble. Small. Run over by the world.

My heart broke.

Just lying there, on the ground.

Slain, undeserving of that pain.

Like the pure one. The beaten one. Driven over by our sin. Thrust down even though he offered so much. White as snow and humble down the road to death. 

We forget that image sometimes. I forget it.

But, I don’t want to forget. I want to remember. I want to hold it like a locket over my heart that protects all the goodness, the love and the renewal packaged within.

I want to hold it so tightly that it seeps right out of me into the savagery of this world.

To the customer service lady who drives me up the wall.
To the husband who had too quick of a retort.
To the bills that stack high.
To the children who need a little too much.
To the poor who I would rather not see.
To the friend who really does need a helping hand.
To the coveted time I don’t want to dole out.

To my heart that can’t forgive – or forgive itself for that matter.

May his purity laid down for us, seep right into us and out of us. He loves us that much.

Cleanliness, slain – to reach our pain.
Hope, released – and purpose gained.
Life, secured – so we may endure.

None for him and all for me.

Today, let’s join the impending orchestra of all creation as we sing his truth:

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Rev. 5:13

One day, every knee will bow, tongue confess, mouth sing, heart see, eye understand who is King.

One day all will know,
until then, let’s live today like we do.

Knowing, not just saying…
Giving, not just mouthing…

…to the one and only. To the one who deserved royalty, a crown, an 11-course tasting menu, the heights of glory, the strength of power, but who endured the status of the worst sinner, the ridiculed idiot and the lowly donkey rider.

Let’s lift our hands to him today.
Let’s see his glory reign today.

To the one who lives, holds all power and waits for our much-anticipated arrival.

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The Electrifying Power of Christ in You

Christ in You

Without Jesus I’d be like a car accident with no repair shop,
a mental-case of self-doubt,
a walking shot of vodka times twenty.

Without Jesus in me,
I would travel from place to place
as a leech seeking my next feel-good prey.

That would be me.

You know what the crazy part is?  I’ve realized it’s ok if I still leech. Jesus doesn’t mind how much I leech on to him. 

I can grasp on, pull out everything that IS him and still get every ounce of what I desperately need. I pull in all of his goodness to breathe out all of it wherever I go.

Jesus practically says leech off of me
and I will give you all-surpassing peace.

You will keep in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Is. 26:3

I never thought it should work that way. But, it does. It really does.

He is the rescuer, the ambulance, the paramedic who now runs to my rescue. Not from the physical issues that most likely would have plagued me, but, to the deep emotional hurts. He doesn’t even bandage them – but simply touches them with his gentle hands to bloom what once was bruised.

I don’t need much else besides him. He is the all-inclusive package to life.

I can seek him until I am blue in the face, and still uncover greater sustenance.

He’s better than the straight shot of alcohol because his intoxication heads directly into my heart.

He works in me, through me and for me.

to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col. 1:27

Now I have hope. What once looked like a world full of hurt, crud yet-to-come and accidents waiting to happen, now looks like a world of hope-at-bay, peace-at-work and joy-yet-to-come.

It’s a mystery, but once you have Jesus in you – it all becomes clear as day.

You don’t have to worry about today, because God holds tomorrow.

You don’t have to fret about lost dreams, because God works beyond our visual screens.

You don’t have to be anxious, because God is working through the piles of trash that seem all around you.

You don’t have to feel alone, because God’s presence is greater than the blue sky that covers.

You simply rest in him, knowing he is working. That is Christ in you.

A person cheating and swindling?  Compassion for their needy heart.
Christ in you.

An obnoxious customer service call? Grace to the one who gets rejected all day long.
Christ in you.

Another call at church to give more money? An outpouring of money to those in need.
Christ in you.

Things you could never comprehend pouring out,
were always poured out by Jesus.
Christ in you.

I am realizing that the only requirement is a desire to keep blockages of his glory far, far away. To keep those things that trip you up distanced. That’s it. It’s not even so much that I have to do the hard labor, Christ in me, handles that for me, I just have to be willing to bring it to him.

To acknowledge it – you know, the opposite of deny it.

Then we can see his radiant glory shining out and when it shines it changes everything you look at.  Christ in us. The power is staggering.

It’s addictive. More of you Jesus, let me leech onto you.

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Today I am joining #LiveFreeThursday, Five Minute Friday and #DanceWithJesus.

Just A Work-In-Progress (Linkup)

A Work-In-Progress

Sometimes I think I act like a fake Christian.

I come on this blog and talk the talk, but then at home, I drop the ball.

I raise my hands to pray, only to turn and go the opposite way.

I say in Jesus’ name, and seconds later, wonder if my name still counts in his book.

I love other people, until it gets inconvenient.

These actions make me feel like an inadequate daughter, a lazy child and a no-good-worthy christian. They make me wonder if Jesus could really love a girl like this?

A girl who is so often just a Christian poser.

While I know Jesus extends me grace (which I gladly receive – in abundance), I still wonder – what rules – the flesh or the Spirit? 

I say, “your will be done,” and then say “I don’t know when He will show up.”
I utter, “you have this God,” only to start to worry.
I seek his face, only to come face to face with the fact that he may not be happy with me.

I have looked at God in all the wrong way, because he is not:
a “convenient” Sovereign god.
a “genie-in-a-bottle” god.
a “call-in-case-of-emergency” god. 
a “I-see-you-from-afar” god.
or a “I’ll-only-love-you-if-your-good” god.

The truth is, the real truth, the I-have-to-cling-to-it truth is: he is the “I-will-always-be-with-you, the I-will never-leave-you, the you-can’t-do-anything-to-make-me-stop-loving-you GOD.

He is the God who doesn’t see me through the face of my mistakes,
but by through the power of his sacrifice.

It’s as if he simply sees through my inadequacies,
straight into the reflection of his heart.

He fully loves. He doesn’t love when all goes well as I am so prone to do – and so prone to expect him to do – but he loves infinitely, incredibly and unduly.

God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ… Eph. 2:4-5

I am not alive to me. I am dead to me. I am alive to Christ.

In this, he doesn’t call me to be put together, he calls me to be broken apart so that he can do his part. His part is creating me into his work of art.

Today, we walk with a work-in-progress sign on, but tomorrow we won’t need a sign. In heaven, all signs will point to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit – the complete fulfillment of all meaning. Here, God will be faithful to unveil, us, his greatest completed works of art in his perfect glory.

We won’t have to worry about imperfections, inadequacies or incapabilities, because we will be simply in awe of who he made us to be.

God created the earth and that is astounding.  Can you even imagine how astounding we will look as God completes his final strokes? A painting is never completely understood until the very end. It will all become clear.

God is the definition of artistry. We never think of him that way, do we?

All of today, are the small workings of his beauty. Rest, my fellow work-in-progress sign carrier, we will one day be completed.

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14

A HUGE PRAISE:

We just fixed the hacking issue this morning!
Comments have been down for the past week,
but please feel free to comment away!!!
God is good!

 

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Are you a Speaker of Fear? (Linkup)

Are you a Speaker of Fear?

Fear says,

“I don’t want you to do that. You better not go there.”
“I walked down a path and I saw the bad things that resulted.”
“You may get hurt.”
“I will have to carry your load.”

When we speak fear, we speak death into another person’s joy.
We speak the emotions of worst case scenarios into what could be another’s best.
We rain on another’s parade.

I don’t want to be that kind of person.

The kind of person that sees a child with a new balloon – and who then sucks the life right out of it.

I can try to justify it in love:
I don’t want them to be hurt.
I am saving us future pain.
They should know the truth.

But speaking fear is just criticism wrapped with a thin bow of “care”.  The “care” bow doesn’t last, but often it’s the underlying words of fear that endure.

Are you raining on a parade?

Are you letting fear dictate your words to another?
To a spouse?
A child?
A friend?

I am guilty. I look at my 3-year old son, carrying big bucket of water and a huge smile, only to say, “Don’t spill that. I really don’t want to clean that up.”

While I know this is a small example, and it won’t ruin his life forever, it still conveys the point. What if, instead, I was to say, “Wow! That looks like fun. You are up to something cool. I want to be a part of that! Let’s take it outside.”

Instead of stealing joy, I am building into it.

I know, so often, I run so fast to fear…

Fear that ruins.
Fear that cripples.
Fear that overshadows emotions.

Fear stands for:

Fun
Ends
And you’re left…
Rejected

What’s the other alternative? Love.

Love stands for:

Letting
Obstacles
Vanish and
Enduring Faith Win

Love doesn’t see issues, but sees hope.

Love doesn’t see threats, but sees opportunity.

Love doesn’t see differences, but common pain.

Love doesn’t see the words “you can’t”, but encourages through the words “you can.”

​Love doesn’t see the potential downfall, but a chance for greater faith to be forged.

Love doesn’t run to save, but trusts Jesus to.

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Surrender Gives Freedom

Control

Today, in a rare instance, I am opening up my blog to a guest poster. She is excited to get her book out into the world, “My 30-Day Journey to a Fulfilled Life.” Welcome Ifeoma! More details on her book here.

Post by Ifeoma Ezitonye-Samuel  

The harder I worked, the more pressured and tense I became.

Cracking, under the pressure of doing things my way, I was slipping into disappointment.

The harder I fought, the more difficult the situation became.

I was focusing too much on me.

This New Year was supposed to be about me!
My goals and not anyone else’s! Selfish? Maybe.

If you have ever given up your personal desires you understand my shoes. If you have laid down your time, efforts and sacrificed your space and comfort for others, then you can relate to my thoughts.

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (2 John 3:16)

You see, everything was tilted – towards me – and in my mind I had the right to justify my actions. I acted defensively.

Until God reminded me of this scripture:

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. (Hebrews 6:10)

So I struggled within me to surrender my selfish intentions.
Saying, Lord, I want “me-time”.  I have been handling everyone’s business.

When am I going to handle mine?

Can I get on with my own business without
receiving your nod of approval?

And God answered.

He showed me that he doesn’t cheat his people.
He will never use you, only to discard you when he is done.
He rewards every labor in the vineyard.

You see, I can’t control what happens in my day
but I can choose to commit my day into His unfailing hands.

Does this mean we don’t set plans?

The truth is: God’s counsel will stand regardless of our plans.

We all want things to go the way we plan, but God’s way of settling issues in our lives may be very different, more profitable and even peaceful than we ever considered.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11)

The moment I start to control, I remember that God is in charge and not me. This gives me the peace required for that situation. I am free from the burden of control.

We experience freedom
when we yield to His counsel for our lives.

Prayer:

Lord, help me to surrender to your will for my life.
Heavenly Father, I enjoy peace and freedom from yielding my life to you in Jesus Name.

Do you ever struggle to yield yourself to God’s agenda for your life?

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Overcome The Real Enemy of Worry

Overcome the Enemy of Worry

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“Mommy, can you just be with me.”

The look in his eyes, says it all – he is worried and scared about the perceived “real enemy” on TV.

Fear and worry fills his face, but, my son seems to know that having mommy next to him makes all the difference.

He knows that with the presence of a parent, he is safer.
That the TV is not real and that his mommy is.
That nothing can come against when is mommy is there.

I love both his faith in me and his desire to draw near to me in this moment.

But, I wonder am I this way when I come face-to-face with worries?

Do I choose to sit with the enemy and dwell on his tactics
or do I choose to sit with my Father and dwell on his goodness?

Do I choose to let God protect me, guard me and speak truth into my soul
or I do I choose to let the show and all it’s details play on and on and on? 

Do I choose to sit with the fear-consuming, worry-ravaging, all-powerful Father 
or do I choose a screen that replays my worst fears,
my worst case scenarios and my enemy’s worst threats?

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Ps. 16:8)

I keep my eyes on the Lord!  I. WILL. NOT. BE. SHAKEN.

Eyes on God can’t have eyes on problems.
Eyes beholding nature’s beauty can’t be beholding life’s injustices.
Eyes beholding God’s love can’t be beholding the world’s hate.
Eyes beholding God’s truth in a still moment, can’t be running circles in fear.

When we have our eyes set on God’s perfect love, and we receive it in a moment of close embrace, fear is cast out. (1 Jo. 4:18).

The presence of God that sits with us when we fear, gives us a new perspective on what looms near.  His presence confirms to our soul – we are his.

By faith he (Moses) left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. (Heb. 11:27)

Moses seemed to know God is “Emmanuel” – meaning, “God with us”.  He seemed to know, when God is with us, nothing can come against us.

When we dwell on God’s nearness, worry fades and strength pervades.

Moses knew he could move forward with “God with him”; He could persevere verses cower in fear.

He saw the one who is right there.
Always present.
Always helping.
Always leading.
Always loving.
Always protecting.
Always giving.

Do we see “God with us” in our problems? Do we allow his real and powerful presence to cast aside all our worries?

Because when we pull near, he is there and there is no room left for fear. His love pulls up and fills us up – in a real and powerful way. Then, worry has to leave.

Suddenly, we overcome the face of fear through the power of faith.
We know he is closer than any looming disaster and more powerful than they enemy.
We see him with us as we go through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4).
We remain in God – and he remains with us.  (John 15:4-5)

Worry and worship aren’t friends. When one comes, the other leaves. Stillness and a racing mind don’t hold hands either. One runs away from the other.

When we choose “God with us”, we seemingly find our way of escape, our protector, our strength, our hope, our defense. We can trust he is working all things out for his purposes, which are always good.

Enemies can try to come against, but when God is with us, we send their bags packing, because God wins every time.

Dear friend, I know what it is like to worry. I know the pain, I know the agony and I know the despair, but today, God is calling you to something greater. God is calling you to get real, honest and transparent; he is calling you to bask in his presence.

Will you call him near as the screen of life portrays images that invoke fear?  He offers the ultimate protection.

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Today, I linkup with #LiveFreeThursday and Five Minute Friday.

Deeply Root Yourself in God’s Love

Deeply Rooted in God's love

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“Love.” What happens when underneath it all – we don’t feel God’s love in our deepest being? When we know Jesus, but we have a hard time believing he loves us?  Perhaps, the world has jaded us, people have hurt us or we have done the unthinkable.

We think God’s love is nice, but we know it as “distant”.

We know love in our mind, but don’t feel it in our heart.
We know love accepts us, but still, our past defines us.
We know love is the answer to freedom, but the chains remain.

What happens here?
How do we move from knowing in our minds – to believing in our hearts?
From knowing about love – to knowing love?

Sometimes, I feel like I live partially loved by God.
Like a daughter who is visited by her step dad a couple times a week.
Like a girl who is not always seen.
Like one who needs constant affirmation.
Like one who wonders if she is forgotten.
Like one who needs to earn approval.
Like one who feels unworthy.
Like one who is forgotten.
Like one who doubts.
Like one who falters.

Is this a picture of a loved daughter of the most high King?

Can I truly love others – and God, when I haven’t embraced depths of his love?
His unceasing, unbelievable and unending love?

Perhaps my earthly experiences have shaped my capacity to perceive God’s love.
Can I only know love to the depths that I have been loved?

In my search to answer these questions, God is teaching me that to walk in love is to walk by faith.

Because none of us have been loved the way he loves.
None of us can understand the depths of his actions for us.
None of us can perceive the immensity of his presence before us.
None of us can comprehend the lengths he goes to fight for us.

His love is unbelievable in a sense.

Because of this,
we have allowed our perceptions and our tribulations
to create realities of God’s love for us.

Yet, his power extends beyond these created idols of love.

Like the many miracles of Jesus; true power is found by faith.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Heb. 11:1)

Faith is where the love of Christ is found. It is found when we receive what he gives, even though the gift is so immense we can hardly receive it – or believe it.

He gives:

– His own son – for us. He gave the ultimate (Jo. 3:16)
– His life for us – for people who can’t stop sinning. (Ro. 5:8)
– A life that is alive with Christ. He goes with us. (Eph. 2:4-5)
– A saved life. His presence. His rejoicing spirit. A presence that quiets our active soul. (Zeph. 3:17)
– Steadfast, never-ending love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15)
– Mercy & graciousness. (Psalm 86:15)
– His own Spirit – a constant companion and help – to live within us. (2 Tim. 1:7)
– A position as a child of God (1 John 3:1)
– An owned status, which nothing – no way, no how – can ever separate his love from us. (Ro. 8:31-39, Ps. 24:1)
– A secure position which – no one, no way – can pluck away. (Jo. 10:28)
– No condemnation even though we deserve it all. (Ro. 8:1)
– Gifts that he delights in giving because we are his children. (Gal 3:26)
– An acceptance and approval of who we are. (Ro. 14:18)
– A powerful care about our daily doings. (Ps. 139:2)
– An ever-flowing rhythm of grace that can never be obstructed. (Jo. 1:16)
– An eternal home that has been prepared just for us. (Jo. 14:2)
– An earthly plan and purpose for our lives. (Prov. 16:9)
– A promise to make us more and more like him. (2 Cor. 3:18)
– A nearness, a shelter and a hope that is beyond compare. (Ps. 46:1-6)
– An advocate who fights on our behalf. (1 Jo. 2:1)
– One who is ALWAYS for us. (Ro. 8:31)
– One whose compassions never fail. (Lam. 3:22)

God is so good that, in a small way, it doesn’t really matter how much we grasp his love because his love will still remain for us. His love is so unconditional that it is not contingent on understanding. He loves us despite us.

Freedom is found in this place. Because, even when our world, our past and our choices have proven that we are unworthy of love, we still remain, as believers, in Him. Then, in faith – we can step out to grab the power of God’s love. This is the way.

We can grab hold of love by faith by:

1. Praying. Lord, let us be deeply rooted in you.
2. Seeking. Lord, let your words of truth shoot as arrows of love to our deepest needs.
3. Meditating. Lord, let us see your love pour over us as we close our eyes.
4. Receiving. Lord, let creation testify to the power of your love.
5. Communing. Lord, let us relish in the daily gifts you pour out on us.
6. Abiding. Lord, let us remain in you – and you in us. Help us to see this give and take.

I am done living fatherless from the most high king, distanced from the one who cares for me the most and duped into believing I am alone. I am done with the fear.

Because isn’t fear just a deep knowledge that no one is near?

But, God is. He was. And, he always will be. The Alpha and Omega never changes.

He is even when I don’t think he is. This is the ultimate love. His love is so all consuming that my eyes cannot begin to absorb his immensity. His love is so great that I can’t even fathom it. I can’t even take it.

I will set my mind, by faith, on the power of his love and trust that it will accomplish all it is set forth to do.

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Ps. 138:8)

My life is secure, never to be forgotten, in the palm of his love.

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The Gift of God-With-Us

Post by: Angela Parlin

For a couple months, we’ve looked forward to hosting two sisters, who are orphans, in our home this Christmas. We selected clothes for them to wear, rearranged bedrooms, stocked up on groceries, and scheduled outings. We shopped for Christmas gifts, wrapped them all in red and black glittery paper, and hid them in a closet.

It’s been great fun, preparing for Christmas and getting ready to welcome these little ones into our family for a month.

But then, this week happened, the last week before they arrive. You wouldn’t believe how many things went wrong. (As in, not according to plan.) My stomach feels knotted up. I’ve had to remind myself to breathe. I’m having a really hard time slowing down, especially enough to pray.

We’ve known all along that this could be an amazing month–or it could be a very difficult month. But it’s like this news just now caught up to my insides, for the first time. All the concerns, what ifs, and fears floated to the surface.

I want to look forward with faith, to anticipate great things from God. I don’t want to feel so incapable, or worry about details. I don’t want to give fear some big, shouty platform in my life.

But I don’t feel I have much control over my anxiety right now. So last night, I put myself to bed early. But first, I read a chapter of Luke, where an angel tells Mary she’ll give birth to Immanuel (God With Us). And then I fell asleep thinking about something he told her:

The Lord is with you.

We need that reminder, don’t we? Because sometimes, we know it in our heads, but we live as if we’ve completely forgotten.

Today, I’m still fighting anxiety, so I looked up some places where the Bible repeats this truth, The Lord is with you.

I read about Jacob, who dreamed of a stairway between heaven and earth, where the Lord stood and clearly said to him, I am with you. He woke up and realized, The Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. (Genesis 28)

I can relate. Can you? I have not felt the Lord with me this week. I’ve fixed my eyes on my concerns and to-do lists, more than I’ve fixed my eyes on Jesus. But the Lord is in this place, in this week, even when I don’t feel that way.

I read about Moses, when he considered himself unqualified to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God said, I will be with you (Exodus 3), and then showed Himself to Moses in so many visible and miraculous ways.

I found numerous reminders of God’s nearness in the Psalms. The Lord is near to His children; The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. (34) God is an ever-present help in trouble. (46) The Lord is near to all who call on Him. (145)

I read parts of Isaiah, where the prophet shares these words from the Lord—So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41)

I read about when Jesus arrived in this world, as God-With-Us in the flesh. And then before He left again, He told His followers–Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28)

I could keep going, keep on finding this truth repeated.

The Word of God offers us this beautiful gift—The Lord is with you. It’s a truth we need to remember, and a truth we need to act on.

Whatever your struggle this Christmas, whatever your anxiety, whatever your pain, whatever difficulties you face, please remember this, friend–the Lord is with you. So take your concerns to Him!

God’s Word promises:

  • He will give you rest.
  • He will fill you with peace.
  • He will help you.
  • He will strengthen you.
  • He will give you what you need.
  • He will uphold you.

May we remember, the Lord is with us. Let’s unwrap the gift of God-With-Us this Christmas.

~Angela Parlin

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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. 

From Complaints to Thanks

Post By: Angela Parlin

I stood beside their beds in the dark, praying for each of my 3 little ones while they slept. Every night on my way to bed, I whispered thanks to God for the gift of being their Mommy. But often tears fell, because I knew the truth of that day. And the one before.

I was discontent with that season of my life, and I had become an under-the-breath complainer.

I didn’t always like that this was what God had called me to do. Because it looked like endless wiping. Wiping counters, spills, bottoms, floors, always wiping.

With a preschooler, a toddler, and a baby, my days looked like finding messes by the handfuls, like potty training and nursing and living chronically behind in housework. It was harder than I’d expected. I loved my babies so much, and yet I wished away the hard parts of those days.

One day, after lunch, I stepped in a huge blob of strawberry jam on the kitchen floor. When I grabbed for a dishrag to wipe it up, I ran my arm through more jam on the edge of the counter. I looked up to see this little trail of jam, smudged across the kitchen cabinets, and started to cry.

I felt mad about the mess, about the way I couldn’t stay on top of 6 sticky little hands, mad at my kitchen, mad at jelly, just mad.

And then, I noticed a verse I had taped onto the fridge, written in beautiful calligraphy:

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV

The phrase, “this is God’s will for you” wouldn’t leave me alone.

His will for me then included days full of messes, all waiting for me to clean them up.

His will included a jelly-coated kitchen some days, and jelly-filled hands to clean.

His will included loving and serving three little people, much of which would be done from the ground, on bended knees.

His will for me also included giving thanks, even in never-ending, sticky-mess moments.

It’s easy to thank God when life feels good, when the house is tidy and the days go as planned. But thank God in the middle of the mess? I didn’t even know how. I hated messes.

I decided right then, to try, even though I didn’t really feel it. So I thanked God for the day He made, for the home we lived in, for three little people with small, sticky hands.

The more I thanked God, for both big and small things, the less I complained. And the more I enjoyed being a Mom.

I have to admit, I sometimes fall back into a spirit of complaint. But whenever I realize this and confess it to God, He is faithful to change my spirit, from being full of complaints to repeatedly giving thanks.

When we practice giving thanks in all kinds of circumstances, He fills our hearts with peace and makes us light with joy.

Do you need to confess a complaining spirit today? Will you begin to make a habit of thanking God in every situation?

Thank you Lord, for changes in perspective, for the ability to offer You thanks, even in jelly-smeared kitchens.

I would love for you to connect with me at my blog, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

~Angela

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