Purposeful Faith

Understanding What is Behind Someone’s Words

Just because someone says something doesn’t mean you should receive it. Even if what is said sounds good — filter it.

Not too long ago, a woman gave me some words of warning. She sounded the alarm by letting me know what she had gone through. She wanted me to “be aware”.  I understood her heart; she didn’t want me to go through what she went through.

Not wanting to forgo wisdom, in the moment, I listened. But, later, I asked myself, “Should I receive her words? Are they upbuilding or fear-inducing?”

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Eph. 4:29)

After talking with her, I felt less built-up. Her words made me want to hide-out and turn away from what God was calling me to do. I felt scared.

Furthermore, I remembered back to another time, years ago, to when one friend shared a hurt about another person. I ended up forming an opinion about the person he talked about. Only recently, did my husband and I realize that we missed a great relationship because of what we believed. Our loss.

Needless to say, when people speak from injury it doesn’t bring life. When people speak from trauma it does not uplift. When people speak gossip it backlashes.

Uplifting rarely comes from one absorbed with unresolved hurts.

This is why we need to use discretion with what we listen to. We cannot absorb sour words.

“Discretion will guard you, Understanding will watch over you” (Prov. 2:11)\

To use discretion and understanding, in receiving other people’s words, ask yourself the following:

–  Is the speaker reaching out for healing or are they just venting?
– Are their words good, true, noble, and of good report or are they questionable, back-biting, and/or gossipy?
– Do they speak of the power of Jesus or are they centered around the limitations, issues, and the hold-ups of man?
– Are the words life-giving or fear-inducing?
– Do I feel full of faith, hope and love after talking with this person or does it seem the words are giving way for the enemy to steal, kill and destroy some of God’s purposes in my life?

Just because we are loving people, doesn’t mean we accept every word that comes from every believer. You must discern what is behind their words. Jealously, comparing and deep hurts give even the best of people stingers. When use discretion and understanding to identify their pain, you can love them more, without owning and taking offense to their words.

Prayer: Father, we all hurt at times. Father, we also need the body to help us see our blind spots and to protect us from harm. Give us wisdom to discern what is from you and what is not. Give us wisdom to know when it is your heart and your Word speaking to us. Give us understanding about how to deal with others, how to excuse ourself and how to love hurting people. Likewise, Father, please help us to receive words that make us more like you. Help us to listen to correction when it is from your heart. Give us the ability to rise above offense and to care for others, even when they have hurt us. We need your wisdom and understanding. Please give it to us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Don’t miss the next Breakthrough Retreat via Zoom. Join me May 15 from 10 AM – 1 PM ET as we pray, worship and spend needed time with the Lord. Gain fresh perspective on your life, fresh faith for believing and renewed hope. The cost is $29. Join live or get the recorded version post-event. People have written me to say that this event has changed their life. I am confident God will bless you as you spend time to meet with Him.  Join me. 

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Putting our Trust in Man

Why put your trust in man?

Man gives one day and takes-away the next. Man cheers today, then whispers behind your back the next. The applause of man is waning.

Just think…Jesus was cheered by the people… yet, not too long later, people shouted, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

For the longest time, I wanted man to recognize me. I wanted to be chosen. I wanted to prove I was good enough.  I wanted to climb to new places because people would finally “see” what I carried. I wanted them to give me things. I wanted them to make a way for me to get to some higher place. Yuck.  Writing this is sickening.

Why? Because you can’t really love people when you are constantly wanting from them. You can’t hear them when your mouth is too busy proving things to them. You can’t be about others when you’re all about getting what you need for yourself.

Plus, as I said before, man’s love is fickle, while God’s love is solid.

Even Jesus knew this…

“Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” (Jo. 2:23-25)

We don’t need a testimony from others about how great we are, for then we will miss the testimony God is working. God is our best portion. We can trust Him to take care of us. We can trust Him to provide for us. We can trust Him to show up for us. We can trust Him to move for us. And, He will — when we trust HIM.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Ro. 5:5 NIV)

God’s love is so rich that it can more than take care of your every need, want and hope!

Prayer: Father, I confess, I sometimes want man’s approval and validation.  I confess sometimes I have relied on my own self-efforts rather than your providence and sustenance. Please forgive me. I don’t want to exchange your love for love of another. In this, I rely more on them than I do on you. Forgive me for doing this. You are my greatest portion and my highest reward. I thank you that you created us all to love. I thank you that you have created me for relationship. However, please help me to put my trust in you and not in man. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 


No Appreciation

Have you ever poured out all the gory details of your heart to someone? And, you get a blank stare…
Or, shown up with an amazing gift for a friend? Yet, they don’t say thank you…
Maybe you were thoughtful and intentional? And no one notices…
Patient and kind? You get no appreciation…

What do you do — when what you do is not recognized?

As a mom, I pour out a lot, yet my kids aren’t knocking down my door to say thank you. As a wife, I try to give a lot, but moments pass and it seems ordinary. I always want to bless people, but I’m not sure how much they notice.

These feelings of doing and not being seen make me ask myself — who am I doing it for anyway? God or man?

And, what’s my goal? Getting recognized by man or giving thanks to God for ALL He has done for me?

Sometimes, I seek the applause of man.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10)

One cannot serve two masters. To please man is to lose complete servanthood to Christ. This convicts me. I don’t want to gain man’s credit at the expense of God’s pleasure. I want to bring my Father overwhelming joy, all the time!

What about you?

Prayer: Father, thank you that you have withheld man’s praises in my life. I see that you do this for my good. I see that, in this place, I am reminded to put all my trust in you. Man cannot give me what you give. Man’s praise is fleeting, while your love and rewards are eternal. I thank you that serving you is the best gift of my life. May all I do be a living testimony unto your glory. You are amazing. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Think: How is God practically calling you to depend on His pleasure rather than man’s approval? He will give you the grace to walk this out!

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Where are You, God?

“Mom, can I wear this?”

My kids dug into my jewelry box. A watch that my husband gave me on a prior anniversary was now dangling in the air.

“Of course you can,” I said.

Frankly, there’s nothing in the box that I wouldn’t give to my kids. I plan to give it all to them one day. My son wanted to keep the watch, now. Yet, to give to him now, would take away the joy of a future moment for him (or his wife).

Still, the fact remains, everything I have — I want to give to my kids.

I can’t help but think that God feels the same way towards us…

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (Jo. 3:16)

If God gave His son, how much more won’t He give us?

“Jesus has the power of God. And his power has given us everything we need to live a life devoted to God. We have these things because we know him. Jesus chose us by his glory and goodness, through which he also gave us the very great and rich gifts that he promised us.” (2 Pet. 1:3-4)

If His power gives us everything, how much are we equipped with all we need?

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Lu. 12:32

If it pleases God to give, how much does He give that we don’t even recognize?

The enemy would love to blind our eyes with lies. He would love to convince us that God doesn’t give, doesn’t help, and that he won’t intervene. He would love to have us declare ourselves stuck in a pit, when we are actually in the arms of a Good Father. He would love to keep us in fear, when we are actually surrounded by a heavenly host and the King of Kings who cares for us. He would love to make us think we are failures, or wash-ups, when we are actually sons and daughters.

I was thinking this morning that —  leaving a room of fear is as easy as crossing over a new threshold to faith. You can enter a new room easily — through repentance. You just choose to leave. And, Jesus, as The Way, takes you in. He takes you through. It is as simple as leaving what was – behind.  You enter what will be, by faith.

Prayer: God, fear and worry sometimes make me feel like you won’t show up for me. I renounce this mistruth as a lie. You are faithful. You are true. You love me. You help me. It doesn’t mean that life will always be easy. But, you perfectly time your gifts and your treasure. You know just when to give to a child, a treasure. Your timing is perfect. You know what you are constructing, forming and fashioning within. I will not fear. I will not fret. I will not panic. You are good and you have good for me. I may not see it, in full today, but I can give thanks because your ways are higher than my ways, mightier than my ways and more effective than my ways. Today, I put my trust in you. Today, I declare that you are faithful. Today, I rely on your strength, not mine. I love you. You are the best Father ever. You have gifts and love and fruits of the Spirit for me. I am blessed. Thank you for all you do for me. Your plan is the best! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 


We Cannot Change People

One of the greatest frustrations is sharing truth with someone who doesn’t want to change.

This can happen with an unbelieving child, an unchanging husband, or with a super-close friend… Have you tried talking to them a time or two, or five?

It hurts when you know what someone should do, yet they don’t do it.

I recently talked to a leader who told me, “No matter how much I tell people what they need to do, and why they should do it, they pretty much never follow through.”

Why could that be?

Well, let me ask you — how do you feel when people tell you what to do? When they point out what you are doing wrong? How do you feel when advice is thrust upon you? Do you receive or push away?

I can’t help but think — forced-change is resisted.  No one likes being held down and commanded to change.

Yet, Proverbs tells us, “Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.” (Prov. 15:31)

I want to be wise, don’t you? How do we contend with this verse? I think the notable keyword here are the words: life-giving.

Many of us hit people with a sharp stake of truth and call that life. But, is it? Living-giving without love under them are just cutting demands. These sorts of words tend to shape people into our image, rather than Christ’s.

This is why having love at the foundation is so key. If people cannot see your interest, they will question your intent. And, they’ll likely resist.

But, if they know you understand? They sense that you care? They believe that you want for them a better life? They see the vision, because of your pure heart?

Then, they likely will value what you say.

God instructs us to look at the log in our own eye, before examining the speck in other people’s eye. We should be wise and make sure that what we call-out is not something that we, ourselves, actually walk with.

What about you? Are you wise? Do you speak God’s wisdom in love? Or, do you want others to change so that you can finally be happy with them?

Prayer: God, I need you. I want to listen and heed wisdom. I also want to share wisdom with others in a way that their heart can receive it. Teach me the nuances of this. Teach me how to love in a greater proportion. Give me your heart, your Word and your vision for others at just the right moment. May I be full of grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Job Hope

Need Rescuing

You’d never see a church named what I am about to name it… While, you absolutely might see a church named, “Grace Church” or “Abundant Life Church”, you would never see a church named, “Job Hope”

Who would want to go there?  Who would want to go to the places of Job — losing family, getting boils, losing all material items and family — to find out you have hope?

But, that is exactly what you find when you go there…

You find that you are stronger than your circumstances.

You find that, by His grace, you can endure almost anything, afterall.

You find that there is a greater hope than you, God.

Job Hope is where — no matter what hopelessness or loss you face — you get to the end of yourself and say:

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job. 1:21)

You can still bless the Lord. You still want Him even though He took away. You don’t love Him for what He gives, but for who He is. Even more, you trust that it will ultimately be good. Painful as you go through it, yes, but good. Hard to endure, indeed, but still strengthening your perseverance.

Without every answer…as other things fade away, you see Him more clearly.

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,

And at last He will take His stand on the earth.” (Job 19:25)

You more-so understand that God is God: a Redeeming God, a Rescuing God, a Restoring God, more than you ever have before… You begin to understand that His ways are higher than yours, stronger than yours, more purposeful than yours.

God said to Job…”Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding…” (Job. 38:4)

You don’t have to know-it-all to know that He loves you.

And then, your Father comes, He restores. After you have endured the test, He restores your life.  You made it through Job Hope. You got the hope which cannot be stolen from the enemy; you endured the great trial and came out with the gold.

Don’t lose hope.

God redeems Job in the end: “So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.” (Job 42:12)

 

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Wanting God to Show Up?

There are no woods near my house. So, not knowing where else to go, I found a patch of trees away from my house and sat there.  I wanted to be alone. I felt sad because I had a disagreement with my husband. Today, I can’t remember what I upset me. What bothered then, is unimportant now. It’s funny how arguments go that way…

Anyway, as a cried in the woods, my find-myself-moment-with-God, didn’t work so well. Women walking dogs kept passing by. They kept staring at me. Looking away and trying to stuff the embarrassment down, I really tried not to pay attention to all the  trash around me. It seemed that someone made this a dumping ground for water bottles, old chip bags and paper.

Earlier, I had read in God’s Word how Jacob named a place that meant something to him. In one particular place, God let Jacob know that He would be with Him. He told Jacob that He would “not leave him until (He) had done all that He had told (Jacob). (Gen. 28:15 AMPC)

So, Jacob named that place Bethel (which means “house of God”)… (Gen. 28:19 NLT)

I named the place where I sat, “Where God met Me Amidst a Heap of Trash.”

God did touch my heart that day. There, I realized I was fearing man more than my Maker. Although it felt painful, I wrote the moment off as a win, headed home, and had conversations with my husband.

A week passed. Then, yesterday, I drove past those very sparse woods from the road. I was surprised. The whole like of them bloomed.  I couldn’t believe it. They were now beautiful. The time made them change. The different season made them come to life. The passage of days made something new.

There was another time that Jacob named Bethel, Bethel. It was after Jacob had gone through trials and family issues. This time, at Bethel, God gave Jacob a new name –“Israel”. He also gave Jacob new charge to “be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you and kings shall be born of your stock…” (Gen. 35:11 AMPC)

“So Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel (the House of God).” (Gen. 35:15 AMP)

God exchanged what was for something even more beautiful. He did the same for me.

And, He can do the same for you…

You know, only a short time passed by until those cruddy woods were made completely gorgeous. Only days passed until the whole look of thing was radically different. Only God can do that! God can take what looks ugly and work through it until He forges something meaningful, as you meet with Him. Do not think you sit on a heap of trash or in a place of embarrassment. God wants to meet you right there. He will take what you want to name “trash” and make it bloom!

Prayer: God, I want you. I need you. I need help. I ask you to speak to me. I ask you to help me. I ask for your heart to meet mine. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

 


Do you Fight or Flight?

good father

Not recognizing the needs of your heart is a big deal…it can cause you to walk away from God.

Remember the two sons in the Prodigal Son story (Luke 15)? One son walked away from the Father and turned to wild living because He didn’t consider his life — good enough.

I sometimes forget how good I have it with God… I complain and murmur. I let distractions grab hold of me, instead of letting God grab hold of my heart. I ignore the nudge to pray, and figure I’ll handle it later. Like the Prodigal son #1, I flight from God and head my own direction.

Son #2, seeing the great celebration the Father threw when his repentant brother returned, had His own walk-away-from-God-moment. In pride, He essentially said, “What have you done for me lately, Father?”

It could be translated to something like this: Look at all I’ve gone through, all I’ve done, all I’ve sacrificed, all my obedience. Where are you? What have you done for me lately?

Rather than flighting, He goes about fighting to get what he thinks he deserves.

Both sons didn’t believe the Father had good for them. Do you believe God has good for you?

Take a look at the Father’s response to son #2:

“Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.” (Lu. 15:31 NLT)

Today, I believe, the Father may want to remind us:

All He has is ours. All we need, He has here for us. All we are searching for, is found in Him. He hasn’t forgotten us. He walks with us. He sees us. He knows our story. He IS caring for us.

Prayer: Father, may we know your closeness, your care, and your compassion for our walk. You are not a distant Father, but ever-near. We are not left behind. You have good for us. Will you help us to understand how much you love us, provide for us, and see our heart? We don’t want to fight or flight anymore. We don’t want to miss the goodness you have, for then we will walk away from our first love, whom we love the most. Father, we need you. We have a deep need of knowing your nearness and faithfulness more and more… Show yourself to us today, and days forward, like you never have before. Let us feel loved, no matter what we face. We ask all these things in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Knowing the Power of God

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16, NIV)

I remember the corporate world. I was afraid that people would judge me for being a Christian. Will they think I am odd if I share about Jesus? That I am too radical if I want to start a bible study during lunch?

There was a part in me that wanted to hide who I was to please the person before me. Be it family, a co-worker, or sometimes even a stranger, I felt responsible to take care of their emotions, to make them feel comfortable.

Today, however, I feel 100% different. I am not ashamed of the gospel because I believe wholeheartedly in its power! It is the power of change. It is the power that renews, reforms and revives. It saves, helps, heals and sets free.

The gospel, the very power of God, not only saved me for eternity, but this power has saved me from: an eating disorder, family disfunction, fears, worry, health issues, mental holdbacks, financial fears, accidents and more. Frankly, the gospel and the work of Jesus, hasn’t saved me once, but Jesus keeps on saving me. He doesn’t quit, He keeps on helping. Grace does that. It puts an extra helping of what you do not deserve on your plate.

It is the power of the gospel. When you understand it and the reality of grace, so much can change in your world.

For some of us, though, we don’t feel this power. I get it. Life gets tough. Times get hard. Callouses come on us. Our heart gets heavy. This is why we need a sister or a brother to lift us up. This is why we need encouragement. This is why we need hope. This is why we need the Word of God to point out real truth to our heart again.

And, this is why I want to invite you to join the Breakthrough Retreat this Saturday via Zoom from 10 AM ET to 1 PM ET (*recorded version, available with sign-up too). If you feel God nudging your heart, please answer His call. I believe that this weekend we will experience the power of the gospel that will help, heal and liberate our hearts. I am confident of it.

Will you join me? I believe we will come to know the power of God that will release us to new boldness of faith.

Sign up today. 

Prayer: Father God, I thank you for each and every reader today. Father, I ask that they too might know the power of your grace in their life. Father, we give thanks for your Son, Jesus. We give thanks that we are saved. We give thanks that you care for us and that you want to help us. Will you help each one of us to intimately understand and perceive the power that is the gospel? We want to know you more. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Want to Change?

Often we look at our past and declare it our present. Because we’ve seen it, we expect it. Because we’ve lived it, we know it’ll repeat.

I see how I am as a mom and figure I’ll always respond the same way. You look at your husband and figure — it’s hopeless. You see your body and — want to give up.

But, what if I told you God has the power to move — quickly?

This morning, when I was in the bathroom, a gnat kept bumping into my face. I simply clapped my hands and the gnat was a nuisance no more. With just a simple move, a clap, everything changed. Likewise, through simple praise, simple truth, a simple word, God can accomplish much…

Ask Paul.

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” (Acts 16:25-26)

Suddenly and at once, everything can change, with God. At once, your mind can be renewed with Jesus. At a moment’s notice, the enemy has to flee at the sound of your praise-filled clapping. All of sudden, you are released from what you figured would imprison you forever!

When big faith shows up, we get the chance to see a BIG God move. What if — all of a sudden — God is ready to break through in your life? Do you believe it to be possible? Do you believe He can? Do you believe He is bigger than the molds you have placed on Him?

I want to invite all those in search of a great God to meet with me this Saturday for the next Breakthrough Retreat. On this Saturday, March 6 (10 ET – 1 PM ET via Zoom), we will meet God through worship, His Word and wonder. I am expectant that our simple act of — showing up, will yield much fruit. He is faithful. Come if you would like transformation in your life!

At once, so much really can change. Our God is that great.

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