I can’t say why, but, this phrase is resonating in my spirit. It’s not that I’m saying life on Earth is not worth living or giving up on for heaven. Not at all. I am not saying that.
But, what I am saying is — God’s love is better than life. It is better than the best thing I’ve ever gotten here on Earth. It is better than my best day ever. It is better than the best feeling I’ve ever experienced.
I believe this is why Paul desired the Ephesians understand God’s love more…
“And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself]. (Eph. 3:17-19 AMP)
God’s love is EVERYTHING. Yet, I’ve learned, only when I conceive God’s love, do I receive God’s love. And, only when I receive God’s love, do I become so full that I have “the richest experience of God’s presence in (my) life.”
God’s love changes everything.
Suddenly, in light of God’s glory, grace, and love what happens is — the minors get minor. Stresses don’t bother as much. Worry fades. Fear is far more unimportant. And, the majors become major heavenly pursuits. I want to go with God and do God-centered things, everywhere.
Have you experienced God’s love? Why not ask Him to help you receive His love? To know the depths, widths, and lengths of His care…
I believe an amazing thing will happen.
In light of God’s love, we see more. We see we already have anything and everything we need! We see everything else is worth giving up for His goodness. We see how to love others from pure motives. We see how God is calling us to give away things we thought we needed. We get unhooked from the world because His presence and love call us elsewhere.
God’s love is better than life. It calls us deeper today…
Frankly, I don’t feel prepared. I have no strategies. I haven’t shared much lately on social media. I haven’t done the stuff expected of an author. I’ve been homeschooling…because of CoronaVirus…because I still need to be a good mother…
With this, there’s an inclination not to expect much of the book.
But, Holy Spirit reminds me of a different truth; my God has the power to make anything and everything out of nothing.
Just think, He made John come-forth out of Elizabeth’s barren womb. He made Jesus come out of a tomb to resurrection life. He made disciples and thousands of people, thereafter, come to Jesus. Where there looks like nothing, with Jesus, there can become something.
“The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.” (Ps. 33:6)
It takes only a word from God and He can make something out of nothing. Don’t be discouraged.
You might feel like you see nothing much. Like your world has amounted to nothing. That you have made nothing out of your time. That there is nothing left for you to hope in. That you have a nothing relationship.
Don’t lose hope.
God is greater than the nothing you see; He is the Giver of Life. He hears prayer. He answers prayer. He sees your every path to life. He is known for making good things come out of nothing. Only just…believe.
“Cover your face, or else… ”
“We just don’t know when we will all be okay…”
“There is no telling how many people will die…”
The endless discussion is enough to make even the most faithful Christian weary, tired or uncertain. Many of us have taken down our defenses. Now, it seems we are prey.
We feel powerless.
Yet, we are not powerless. Christ has not left us powerless, but power-full.
“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 1:19-20)
Can you even imagine? The same power that raised Christ from the dead AND seated him in the place of honor — is for us!!!
This is not theory or hearsay; this is truth.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim. 1:7)
We have a spirit of power.
Power to turn off the TV.
Power to pray.
Power to love.
Power to say I don’t agree with what I am hearing.
Power to use wisdom in accordance with peace.
Power to rise above the mayhem and into God’s rest.
Power to cast what is bothering us unto God.
Power to engage with God’s Word.
Power to have great faith.
Power to see God’s great moves in action.
Power to bless and heal others, through Christ’s love.
We are not powerless — like the enemy wants us to feel — we are power-full!
The difference between the two is often the difference between mental health and deterioration.
Prayer: Father God, I thank you that you have not left me powerless. You have not deserted me. You have not left me behind. I am not without a friend. Jesus is my friend. You are my Father. I have family. I am loved. It is well with my soul. It is well in my world. You have given me power, through Christ, to effect godly change in this world. And, I will do so! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7)
I want to “keep the faith!” What about you?
To keep something is to hold it. It is to hold it as dear, hold it close and hold it far from harm. It is to keep using it, practicing it, and leaning on it.
Are you “keeping” faith?
Keeping faith is very practical. It is asking God to keep you and to increase your faith. It is worshipping, praising, and reading God’s Word. It is to pray and listen.
Do you feel full of faith? Are you believing that God is the God of the impossible or just the mundane happenings in your life? Do you believe God will show up in your day or are you just trying to make it through? Do you expect God to hear and answer prayers or are you just lobbing up words because you are supposed to?
Faith believes in the exceedingly abundantly more of God; it sees God show up. It trusts even when it cannot see, even when the promise feels far. It hopes, again and again.
I think I lost hope for a while. I started to give up. If you have given up — it is a sign you have lost hope. If you are in this place, it is okay. God is faithful to restore and renew. Just give him your disappointment, your pain, your history, your trauma, your offenses and let him bring you back to new life again. Let Him restore your faith.
Prayer: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) May your faith be so great that it acts out with extreme love. And, may your King Jesus, be glorified. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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.
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.
My friend Catherine and I set out for a lazy summer stroll through the neighborhood just before the fireflies emerged to start their party. We chatted about raising boys, working husbands, and decorating dilemmas. When we arrived back at her house, she invited me to come in and look at some fabric swatches for a new sofa. Before I knew it, a few minutes had turned into a few hours.
“Oh, my!” I exclaimed. “It’s ten o’clock. I’ve been gone for over two hours! I bet Steve’s worried sick. He doesn’t even know where I am. I’d better give him a call before I start back home.”
When I dialed our number, the answering machine picked up…which made me just a little mad.
“Steve, I was calling to let you know I’m at Catherine’s. I thought you’d be worried, but apparently you don’t even care because you won’t even pick up the phone!” Click. I said my goodbyes to Catherine and left feeling dejected. “I’m wandering around in the dark all alone and he doesn’t even care,” I mumbled to no one in particular. “I could be lying in a ditch injured, or dead for that matter! I don’t think he even loves me.”
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed Steve coming toward me on his bicycle.
“Where have you been?” Steve desperately asked. “I’ve been riding all over the neighborhood looking for you! Do you know what time it is?”
When we arrived home, I quickly erased that angry voicemail. Whew, I thought. That was close.
A few days later, Steve called me from work. “Sharon, have you listened to the voice mail lately? There’s something you need to hear.”
So, I used my cell phone to call my landline.
The message went something like this: (The voice of sweet Southerness) “Hello, you’ve reached the Jaynes’ residence. We’re unable to answer the phone right now… (enter the voice of Cruella De Vil) “I was calling to let you know I’m at Catherine’s. I thought you’d be worried, but apparently you don’t even care because you won’t even pick up the phone!” (Return of sweet Southerness) “At the sound of the beep, leave a message, and we’ll get back with you as soon as possible.”
“Oh, my goodness!” I screamed. “How did this happen! How many people have heard this over the past three days?”
I called the phone company, and they explained that most likely during the thunderstorm we had a few days earlier, a lightning strike must have merged and scrambled the message.
I was mortified. I think God was too.
The Bible says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (James 3:9-10). That all went down in one single voice mail.
As women, I am amazed how quickly we can flit back and forth between blessing and belittling, praising and putting down, cheering and critiquing—all in a matter of seconds. God has given us incredible power in our sphere of influence, and it begins with the words we speak.
In Genesis 1, we read that God created everything we see with but a word. He said, “Let there be,” and then there was. Then on the sixth day, when He created man and woman in His own image, He did something amazing, astonishing really—He gave us the gift of words.
Few forces have greater impact then the utterances that pass our lips. Our words can embolden a child to accomplish great feats, encourage a husband to conquer the world, reignite the dying embers of a friend’s broken dreams, cheer on a fellow believer to run the race of life, and draw a lost soul to Christ. Words start wars and bring peace—globally, and right in our own homes.
Sharon Jaynes is an international conference speaker and author of 24 books, with close to a million sold. For ten years, she served as vice-president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and co-host for their daily radio program. Sharon is the co-founder of Girlfriends in God, Inc., a ministry that touches nearly 500,000 women daily through internet devotions. Sharon is also a popular guest on radio and television programs such as Focus on the Family and Family Life.
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.
We honked. Actually, we didn’t honk, but I really wanted to… The woman ahead of us was — the. slowest. drive-thru. orderer. ever!!!
Add this to the fact that we had hungry kids in the back of the car, and a near brush with a police officer who was still behind us, and people in gloves and masks all around us…and I felt nervous. C’mon lady. Move it.
Is she ever going to go? What is wrong with this person?!
I looked in the rearview mirror and then looked straight ahead trying to see what the issue was. I leaned forward looking for an escape. Tension rose in my chest.
When we finally reached the Chick-Fil-A attendant, she said, “I am going to switch to the passenger side of your car for your order. The woman ahead of you was deaf so I got closer so I could hear her.”
She was — what?! Deaf.
In my impatience, I cursed a woman most in need of — patience. I felt horrible. She was doing a great job “getting out” and here I was critiquing her.
You know, we never know what it is to walk in another’s shoes. We never know the history of someone else’s hurt. We never know all their physical limitations. The details of their day. Why they delay or act wishy-washy or make us wait.
But, God knows… He knows their quirks as much as He knows ours.
In retrospect, I wish I extended patience, instead of getting — pushy. I wish I would have been patient.
Patience is never wrong. Even if it takes time. Even if it slows us down. Even if we listen longer. Even if we have to talk more. Even if we have to get out of our own mind and into someone else’s. Even we delay our mouth or our progress…
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:2)
Patience is love. It quiets discontent. It softens its response. It lets go of its own personal agenda. It loves by the Spirit. It discerns how to go. It makes space for others’ needs. It waits with a smile on its face. It pauses with the goal of lifting the other person up. It dismisses gripes.
It is kinds to oneself. It extends grace. It remembers how patient and kind God has been — to us — so it can really love others.4
I was pretty sure: Iknew 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.”
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.
The man got out of his pickup. He ran down the stairs quickly. As he did, as if I was sizing up a suspect, I noticed his cut-off sleeves, his see-through thin white shirt, his scruffy beard, hid tattooed arms and his body that was far too thin. Was he on drugs?
I saw him dispose of something next to the sidewalk. What is he doing? Is there evidence he wants to get rid of?
Suspiciously, I kept my eye on him, as he quickly ran off…back to his car.
What did he do? I was determined to find out. So, as I approached the area of the sidewalk where he “disposed of his stuff”, I looked down. And, right between the side-walk and the water, was the evidence — a little turtle.
This “evil” man had rescued a turtle from the road to bring it to the water. He saved it from death to bring it to life.
And, as I looked at that turtle, I saw the reality of me: I size people up too quickly, by appearance, without knowing the reality of their heart.
My head dropped as I walked on. I am well acquainted with another group — who did a similar thing…the Pharisees.
They accused Jesus of healing on the Sabbath, without considering “the heart” behind Jesus’s motives (see: Mt. 12:15-21)
They misinterpreted Jesus intention to heal, missing His heart, by attributing the power to the devil. (Mt. 12:22-37)
They missed the whole new covenant because they couldn’t perceive the heart of God, through Jesus, in flesh and blood.
Let’s not judge, before we seek to understand — real truth. We are quick to size up what we can’t understand. Our natural mind demands we draw conclusions, rather than to wait on the Lord’s answer. Or His deeper meaning. So, we label people before our heart has come to know their real heart-motivation.
But, what if we were to give those around us “the benefit of the doubt”? What if we were to “believe the best”? Wait before sizing-up?
For instance, rather than judging people different than us, we can suspend our thoughts and pray a blessing over them.
Rather than picking apart our husband’s actions, we can choose to say, “I know he loves me. He is doing his best.”
Rather than assuming a friend doesn’t like us anymore, we can say, “I better call her and see how she is doing. Maybe she is having a hard day.”
Rather than believing God has forgotten us, we can say, “I don’t see answers to my prayers now, but I know God has all my requests in His hands.”
We can do something different: preserve our heart. When we wait on the Lord — He usually has a better answer. There are better heart-interpretations than ones we lean on though instinctive reactions.
What might you need to step back from in order to see from your heart? Where might you need to wait, instead of drawing conclusions?