Is there something about yourself that you want to change?
Perhaps you want to drink more water, or lose weight or stop talking to your husband a certain way? You need more self-control. The ability to change by changing your habit.
I’ve been there. Many times in my life, I’ve wanted to do something new — even to the point of making my bed.
This morning, I nearly stopped in my tracks as I read this bible verse: “We all make mistakes, but those who control their tongues, can also control themselves in every other way.” (James 3:2 NLT)
I couldn’t believe it. God says if we control our tongue, then we can control ourselves in EVERY other way.
Every way. To be self-controlled in tongue is to then to gain control with every other thing you hope to gain self-control over.
I can see how this plays out.
We stop saying, “I can’t.”
We end our complaining that “we’ll never change”.
We start to speak God’s ability to change anything and everything.
We hope all things, believe all things and trust God in all things — through our tongue.
Suddenly, rather than living in defeat we realize that God has the power to help us even in the little things.
Where are you looking to have more self-control? Have you ever considered that it begins with your tongue?
At night I put on white noise. I first started this practice for the kids. This way, if friends were over or the TV was on — the kids wouldn’t wake up. But then, I came to like white noise. Now, loud trucks don’t wake me. My husband’s sound as he rolls over doesn’t bother me. Rain is soothing, or at least normally. . .
. . . except for the other night. The other night, the white noise cut off, completely. It felt soul-shocking.
I don’t know if it was because I was half-asleep, groggy, or in a dream, but it almost seemed as if the world as I knew it — shut off. . .
As if the white noise of this world’s hustle, bustle, busy, urgent, voices, words, conflict, people, interruptions, life, needs, habits, requests, and my internal voice — shut off. . .leaving quietness. Nothing. Me.
Will this be what it sounds like when I meet Him? Whereas once my mind ran 1000 minutes/second, it will all cease. And there He will be. Standing. In quietness. Fullness. Looking at me.
I felt bare. Me and Him. Him and me.
Jesus, am I enough for you. Jesus, am I good enough? Will you accept me?
No good theology ever attacks at midnight hours. I’m convinced of this. Come daylight. With this thought on my heart, I randomly flipped open my bible. Landing open, I placed my eyes down and read, “Therefore since we have been made right by God’s sight in faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” (Romans. 5:1-2)
It was Christ who died for me and faith that saved me, due to no work of my own. It is Christ that loves me and Christ that wants me, based on no acts of service I accumulate. It is Christ that died for me and it is Christ that will take me home. It is Christ that loves me and Christ that gives me highest privilege to live with peace and joy.
I am more secure in Christ than I ever have been in anything in my entire life (because He did the work and the work is complete).
So on my last breath, when everything shuts off and this world ends, I will rest. Jesus paid it all. . . all to Him I owe.
The same holds true for you, dear child of God. Jesus did everything for you.
We were late to the stores to buy school supplies. Now, the Target shelves looked like desert wastelands, empty and void of everything I needed. The mom’s had picked them over.
The kids and I got in the car and drove to more stores, miles across town. I nearly crawled behind a shelf to grab the last box of dusty pencils. I circled the stores a few times, trying to figure out where I could get the exact things they needed.
I would get my kids what supplies they needed to succeed.
God does the same. He is intent about supplying us what we need to succeed (to grow, to learn, to become, to move ahead, to become like Him, to draw near to Him, to
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19)
The supplying work does not belong to kids; it belongs to the parent.
Father God shall supply your needs.
Father God is your daddy. He sees what you need. He has your list. He cares about supplying you. He does not lie. He’s not late about it, either.
You have all you need according to HIS riches. Can you believe that? According to His riches. Not according to lack, a meager portion, a preserved ration. No, according to riches in His glory.
Open your hands. Open your eyes. Open your heart. Acknowledge His vast supply. He is there. You have what you need. He is doing it. He is greater than you, stronger than you, mightier than you, more able than you — and He desires to work through you.
Many of us are facing a storm. You may feel: left outside with a flapping shirt and no rain jacket, afraid that the winds of change will tumult you, overwhelmed by the force of all you cannot handle coming at you, convinced you will not weather the storm in your marriage or certain that you will ‘make it’.
I assure you, you will — make it. You must know — with God, you WILL make it.
Psalm 57 is a place of safety for your storm-torn heart. Let’s take a look at it:
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me— God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.
I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves.
My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
Notice, in Psalm 57, we need mercy and help — God gives refuge.
We cry out — He sends forth love and faithfulness.
We are in the midst of lions — but, we can still praise.
We praise — our heart becomes steadfast.
We become steadfast — our certainty of his love and faithfulness carries us.
Steadfast your heart today.
The rain is here in the morning but gone mid-day. The lightning strikes for a second then passes by. The hail hits hard yet passes on.
You may be in a storm, but Jesus is above it, not asleep. Exalt God, then watch everything become a speck in comparison to His splendor and majesty! Lift Him higher and begin to trust Him.
My prayer for you: God, revive hearts today. Lift up the weary soul. Encourage those who are losing faith. Call back those who are distant from you. Make way for your glory. May we bow low so that we can see you come in from high places with power and strength. Everything is by you, from you and for you. You have good plans. We trust you today. Please equip us with fresh faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I made a trip to a new state to investigate a new home to live in. While we were in town, we found the house! I was delighted. Yet, as soon as we got back home the owner called; she changed her mind.
What do we do now? Get a place, without even seeing it?
Thanks to online images, from afar, we found another decent place. Sight-unseen we put in a bid. After some time passed, they called me back, saying, “Sorry, someone else got it before you.”
More time passed. Days were flying off the calendar. My heart was beating faster. Minutes were evaporating. My kids needed to be in school in days. Plus, I have a mega-project needing to be completed, in almost no time. And, we have no home.
I reached out to yet another house. The realtor called back to say, “I think the owner mostly wants to sell the house. You will need to wait and see.”
But, I can’t wait. . . and see. . .
Have you ever been in a powerless place? One where you don’t know where you’re going or how you’ll get to where you think you should be?
Listen, I understand. I understand what it is not to know the future, not to have all the answers, not to stand on solid ground, not to know how it will all happen. . .
I know these feelings, but I also know my God. My God doesn’t change. Natural circumstances sway and rock, but His nature stays the same. We can’t name our future, but His Name is constant.
Our God is Provider. Faithful. Healer. The God Who Hears. Daddy. Help in a Time of Trouble. Alpha of Everything. Omega to the Groundbreaking Solution that is about to come. The God of all Knowledge of What-to-do. The God Who Sees Every Detail. The Creator of Everything I Need. The Banner over Me, Called Love. The Hope that Delivers Hope. The Way of Life I Desperately Need.
No “bad” circumstance can block the power of all of Him.
Never. Ever. No way. No how.
Today, God is providing for me. He is blessing me. Yes, the house is somewhat not-as-I-thought, but, you know what?
I trust Him. I serve the God who does exceedingly more than I can ask or imagine. If I haven’t seen Him do “it” once, I’ve seen Him do “it” a hundred times. What about you?
So, today, I trust Him to make lemonade out of my little “not-as-expected” lemons in due time. My God is faithful. Radically faithful. And, so is your God.
There is almost nothing worse than being misunderstood.
To bear your heart to someone…to approach things carefully and thoughtfully…to pour out your best…to attempt to do things the right way…and then to be accused of having motives that are entirely different? That hurts.
In the past, when people did this — it infuriated me. They’d say what I did wrong. I’d cross my arms and close my heart. I’d block out what they were saying, thinking, “I know what I did. They’re wrong. I am right.”
Then, after they were done slinging stuff at me, I’d tell them all the reasons they were wrong. I’d make a whole case as to why I had ‘good motives’ in what I did.
Yesterday, a friend, approached me in a similar manner. She guessed the motives of my heart. She was wrong.
But, this time? I just listened to all she had to say. I heard it. I accepted her words. I did not reply with a personal discourse of defense. Silently, I decided, that if Jesus did not reply when face-to-face with accusers, why should I? There is no burden to.
“But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge–to the great amazement of the governor.” (Mt. 27:14)
Instead, I listened. Why? Because sometimes we can be blind to what we think we know about ourselves. Because sometimes, there may be a grain of truth hidden within a sea of false accusations.
I wanted to go home and pray. I wanted to hear God’s heart about it. My goal is not to prove anything to her. I don’t have to say anything. I stand before God.
In my silence, God fights for me. He fights for you too.
“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Ex. 14:14 ESV)
Some of you are worried about what you are going to eat.
How am I going to pay this bill? . . .put my kids through college? . . . ever retire?
Others are worried about how God will come through.
What will happen?
How can this possibly be fixed?
There is no way.
In John 4, Jesus told the disciples, “I have food you don’t know about.” (Jo. 4:32)
Friends, God has food you don’t know about.
You don’t have to see the provision today to trust it will come tomorrow. You don’t have to know Sunday’s daily bread because it’s only Saturday. You don’t have to see where, how, when, why and what He’ll do, because: He hasn’t shown it to you, yet.
God has food you don’t know about. Don’t be one who needs to see — to believe.
Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (Jo. 20:29)
Be “blessed” because you didn’t see, yet still believed. Be “that” type. You can always start today.
Jesus was hungry when the disciples told him to eat in John 4. But. . . He had food — they “didn’t know about”. It was called “doing the will of God” (Jo. 4:34). Jesus fasted. Hidden food is often spiritual, not only natural.
For the longest time, I willed-and-worked to do what God wanted. I told myself, “I need to act better”, “God is not satisfied with me” and “I’ve gotta do more”. I felt shame and embarrassment at mistakes. It was as if other Christians were noticing that I was the one misfit. Each mistake was a crushing blow to my spirit. God’s requirements were like a nebulous ring in the sky; I could never reach high enough.
I couldn’t do enough.
These scriptures wagged at me like a chiding finger:
“If you love me, keep my commands (You don’t do this very well, Kelly, do you?)” (Jo. 14:15)
“By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments (Kelly, how can you really be sure?)” (Jo. 1:3)
You are my friends if you do what I command (He has other friends besides you). (Jo. 15:14)
Am I really God’s friend? Why can’t I just do what He commands?
Maybe you feel this way today? Perhaps, you’ve made a scathing mistake. A horrible decision. You can’t do right. You’ve spoken words you can’t take back. You know you need to be with Jesus and share Jesus more.
Perhaps, it seems like God or people are saying, “You are not good enough.”
One verse set me free. I believe it will release you from all this pressure too. I believe it will relieve you. . . like it did for me. . .
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Phil. 2:13)
God gives you:
The desire to do what pleases Him.
The power to do it.
This is freedom!
All my good work is a work of God. All my obedience is sourced from Him. This means I don’t have to hard-drive myself into good-works. I come to Jesus. I love Jesus. I draw near Jesus. I hear Jesus. And, my nearness becomes His outpouring goodness — naturally, seamlessly, and easily.
Everything good from me — to them — is because of Him.
All glory, honor, and praise to the King, not to Kelly Balarie. Working-up good works produces insidious pride. But, letting Him do it through you — and because of Him — creates reliant humility.
If you have the overwhelming desire to love God more, to be near Him more and to do His will more, I would venture to say — that’s God working in you. Do not hate that. Embrace it. He is working in you. He is calling you His own. He is leading you in paths of goodness. He is helping you. He is equipping you.
Draw near and He will draw the best parts out of you so that you may follow His commands like — a friend, like a lover of Jesus and like one He knows. This is where the joy is.
For years, I treated my china like an ancient heirloom. I didn’t want to use the plates. They were better preserved in a box than used in a kitchen where they may get scratched, chipped or broken. Until, one day, I decided, what good is a gift if you’re afraid to use it?
Now, they’re on a higher shelf. Less often used, but more easily accessed. Anyway, today, I started packing up the house (yes, we are moving!). And, as I pulled down a stack of Waterford plates from the high shelf, one broke. Bam!
Immediately, I had that sink-down-in-my-chest feeling. Then, my daughter said, “It’s okay, Mommy.” Two-seconds later, my son said, “Yes, mom. It’s just one piece.”
Amen! They were right!
I picked up the pieces and threw them away, with joy. Why? Because grace gave me peace.
One well-timed word of grace changes everything. It tells someone, “You don’t have to be perfect.” It silences anxiety. It breaks self-reproach. It offers perspective.
How do you extend grace to others?
I am not the world’s best grace-giver. I get really irritated when my kids intentionally do something I told them not to. But, if I’ve done one little thing right it’s to say — when something breaks — “It’s okay, be kind to yourself.”
Some of you need to say that to yourself, “It’s okay. I can be kind to myself.”
When you make a mistake. “It’s okay. I can be kind to myself.”
When you drop the casserole. “It’s okay. I can be kind to myself.”
When you say the words you didn’t intend to say. “It’s okay. I can be kind to myself.”
Let yourself off the hook once in a while. Why? Because Jesus didn’t die to condemn you; He died to save you.
Sure, you can learn along the way from what you do wrong. But, receive as much grace towards yourself as you give to others. This will bless you. It is a blessing well-earned for you by Christ.
While cleaning the kitchen, I had to stop and acknowledge all the screaming and arguing surrounding me.
“Madison,” I said, “those people on TV sure are screaming loud at each other. They’re so angry!”
My 6-year old daughter looked over at me and said, “I know, Mommy, it’s in the hands of God — but, they’re trying to figure it out.”
It’s like they are trying to take it right out of God’s hands — to handle it with their mind. That’s funny.
But, I wonder, how much are we just like these people — “figuring-out” what God’s already working out? Screaming-it-out, worrying, agonizing, figuring, postulating, regurgitating? Tirelessly and endlessly circling the same block? Grabbing away from God what He’s working on? Worrying rather than trusting His amazing end?
If it is all in God’s hands; let’s leave it there.
“I will lay waste the mountains and hills
and dry up all their vegetation;
I will turn rivers into islands
and dry up the pools.
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.
But those who trust in idols,
who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’
will be turned back in utter shame.” (Is. 42:15-17)
Our mind can be an idol when it trumps trust in God.
Prayer: Father, we lean on you. We trust you. Even with the things that feel out of control, too scary, too much. . .even with these, we trust you. Help us not to grab out of your hand — through worry, anxiety, manipulation, knowledge or passive-aggressive behaviors — what you are handling. May we bring peace in the darkness and hope in our every day, despite our circumstances. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.