A Bigger, God-Sized Vision

You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in obedience to him… (Dt 26:17).

Whether we recognize it or not, every person or family carry with them a vision that takes them into the future God has planned for them.  Some visions are shallow and require deep pruning,  Thus, the journey God takes us on for a season might prove to be painful as He uproots pride, fear, and insecurity.

Then, there are other visions that are immensely purposeful.  Those visions often include a life that is fully aware of their own personal tendencies that lead towards sin and rebellion.  When we live fully aware of those, we can stand with Jesus in our victory and freedom as we surrender every part of ourselves to His Lordship.  You cannot fight the devil running forward in the vision you have for your life, but you can fight him and win as you stand firm in the promises of God.

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Sometimes my vision is shallow because I focus far too much on temporal things.  How fit my body is, how much money I’m making, what makes me happy, etc.  My vision is so small because my vision is focused on me.  You see, sometimes, I think Jesus is supposed to be this person who accompanies me in my idea of what my life should look like.  However, Jesus has a vision of His own.  Accompanying Him on His vision requires surrender, obedience, and trust.  I must have a long view in mind because a short view always puts the emphasis back on me.

Keep fighting for that new vision in your heart.  A vision where your greatest joy is not in your own personal happiness, but in your willingness to be poured out like a drink offering for the sake of Christ.  This, beloved, is your greatest joy, now go and drink deeply of His love so that you might accompany Him toward heaven, your true home.  The place where your vision should take you as you live with an understanding that He is a good Father who longs to welcome you into His home for all eternity.

Father, I long for my gaze to be set fully upon you.  Forgive me for focusing so much of my time and energy on things that just don’t matter.  Grant me a grand vision.  My heart and mind focus on you.  Truly, you are a good and gracious King.  Be my vision, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.  

Last Night I Saw Someone Who Hurt Me and Anger Filled My Heart and I Was Reminded of This….

Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise…(Ga 4:28).

Last night I ran into someone and anger filled my heart.  I hate that.  I don’t like it at all that hurt feelings rose up to the surface as I happened to see this person at the same event I was at.  Maybe you understand, because you tried reaching out too, but they didn’t want to talk things through with you, so now you’re left with hurt feelings and no resolution.  I’m not sure why we do that to each other in the body of Christ, but we do and it’s not right.

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I am often reminded, in these moments of the promises of God.

He will make every wrong right.  Yes, He will wipe every tear from my eye and the pain I experience in this life will be forgotten when I step into the next.  That brings me great comfort to know that my Heavenly Father is always near and is always redeeming everything the enemy has tried to stack up against me.

I’ll still continue to pray for redemption in that relationship and I’ll continue to cover my offenses, in this present moment in love.  That’s the only thing that I can do.  I can’t give way to unrighteous anger, or bitterness.  I think it’s ok to be angry over the fact that things are not reconciled and that my invitation to talk things through in Chrisitan love was not accepted.  I don’t think the Lord cares much for that either,  because He loves to see broken things restored.  Yet, we have to be willing to go with Him there into the hard places of redemption.  Which means hard, growing conversations must be had.

Let not your heart be trouble today, dear friend, for you are a child of the promise.  That promise for your life is good because your Heavenly Father is so very good.  His promises will never fail you, even when you’re angry, upset and feeling down about what life has brought your way.  Look up dear friend, God’s grace, deliverance, joy, and mercy is at your fingertips and today you can live in His promises, knowing that whatever befalls you, you can sing, dance and rejoice in the Father’s love.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your love and for your promises.  I ask continually for your redemption and grace.  Shower it upon me.  Today I choose to dance in your love, knowing that I am a child of the promise.  This brings me such great joy.  Thank you that I can live in that love today, in Jesus name, Amen.  

 

 

My Comfort Is Not My Destiny

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel…Php 1:12).

Some days I’m ok with the fact that the suffering I’ve experienced in this life has produced greater fruit in me and those around me.  Then, there are days when I’m just not ok with it.  I start to throw a little pity party for myself as I recount all my losses and things that just didn’t seem fair.

Suffering is hard.  Loss is difficult.  Rejection can be so devastating and trauma can really throw us for a loop.  I understand all of that and maybe you do as well.  I experienced all of it in a very short amount of time.  It’s difficult, at times, to grapple with God over the reality of that.  Yet, the Lord isn’t asking us to hold the pen of our lives, He’s simply asking us to trust Him with the story.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a man who came to our home to fix something with our water softener.  He shared with me about his wife’s illness and the loss she had experienced through it.  With compassion, I said to him, “I live under the mantra that this was not the life we created for and praise the Lord, something better is coming where there will be no sickness, pain or loss in Heaven.”  Friends, this is true and we should live with hopeful expectation for that day when every wrong will be made right and Jesus Himself will hold us close as we rest safe and secure in His arms of love and mercy.

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Sometimes I want to go back to what life used to be before the storm hit.  I want the success and the beautiful life I had before.  I don’t want the suffering, but you see, through it, God grew my character, my marriage and made me stronger not in myself, but in Him.

And even though life was beautiful before, it still held its challenges, I just tend to remember all the good things, because my mind wants to convince me that the grass is greener somewhere out there.  Instead of resting in the safe pastures that my Heavenly Father has for me today I long to run towards the one that feels or felt more comfortable and safe.

Yet, I am reminded that my comfort is not my destiny, but Christ and His Kingship is what I was made for in this life.  That is my daily bread and when I suffer I can know that it all went through the hands of a loving God before it ever hit my life.  Therefore, I can believe with all hope that no matter what life brings me, it is for my good and for His glory.

Jesus, thank you that you are my destiny.  I will experience pain in this life, but everything I have experienced has passed through your loving hands and for that, I can rejoice.  Truly, you are a good and loving savior, Amen.  

Take Up The Shield of Faith

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith…. (Eph 6:16). 

The shield of faith is so necessary for our survival as Christian believers.  Without it, surely, we will fall prey into the hands of the enemy who loves to throw fiery darts our way.

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I’m currently walking through a season in life that requires great faith.  The Lord is asking me to lay everything on the table and trust Him with the results I’m hoping for that I cannot see.  I’m longing for good, Godly things, but if I could be quite honest, my doubt wants to whisper in something different to my soul.  My doubt and fear and trying to convince me that faith isn’t enough and that the sinful behavior of people will win out in the end.

Yet, faith is being sure of what we hoped for and certain of what we do not see.

Faith requires action on my part.  Active faith is what I do, because of what Christ has done in me.  Only through Christ can I do what feels impossible.  Truly, He practiced active faith in all that He did as He entrusted Himself to the will of the Father.  Although Jesus’ life certainly did not go without trouble, in the end, the sinful decisions and behaviors of others did not win out.  The will of the Father and the redemption of all mankind won in the life of Jesus.

I’m not sure where God is asking you to practice faith in this present season, but be reminded that your willingness to practice faith in your life will have much to do with how you respond to life throughout the day.  If I am trusting in my Father’s love, I will not give way to fear.  If I am practicing faith, I will believe that my story will end up like my Saviors, not in death, but in victory over all who assail me.

Father, grow my faith as I learn to surrender to you.  Show me your grace and your power as I lean into you for my daily bread.  Remind me to practice faith when I forget or when I start to give way to fear.  Lead me according to your love and faithfulness, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.  

There’s No Timeline For The Healing of Your Grief

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit….(Ps 34:18). 

Beloved, it’s ok to be crushed in spirit.

I remember sitting in a counselors office for a follow up a few months after walking away from a ministry I loved with every part of me. When I shared with him how something triggered me that past weekend and I was grieving that loss once more he quickly exclaimed, “Still?!”

Yes, still. Some wounds take longer to hear than others and that’s ok.

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I don’t know where life has crushed you, but there’s no specific timeline that says you need to be fully healed by a certain point. God isn’t holding the stopwatch, feeling disappointed in how long it’s taking you to rise up from the ashes of your pain.  He wants to comfort you in it, not shame you because of it.

I think that its good to go on grieving and mourning whenever we became triggered by a memory that pulls us back into our crushing. We should not fear it, push it away or pretend like we’re over it and it didn’t hurt that bad.

Dear friend, it’s ok to not be ok. God’s good with that. He can handle it. A man said to be after God’s own heart grieved continually. Therefore, why should we think that God sees us any differently? We can still be mighty men and women for God who have weak moments as we surrender our pain and hurts to the Lord Jesus Christ. Even Jesus mourned the reality that He would be separated from the Father and in His mourning, God was near to Him. Yes, God was nearer to Jesus in His moments of deep vulnerability.

It is good to be vulnerable before the Lord. Truly, He is a comforter who takes our pain and transforms it by His love.

Lord, I do not want to dwell on the past. I don’t want to believe any lies about my past that would keep me stuck there. I want to grow and heal. I want to find you in my grief. Lord, help me when moments come up and sadness surfaces. Continue to heal, change and grow me according to your love, in Jesus name, Amen.

People Do Not Define You

 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them…(John 2:23–24).

Dear friend, do not entrust yourself to people.  Truly, they will fail you.  They will misunderstand you and you too will misunderstand them.  We must if we’re going to make it in this life without bitterness, anger, and resentment towards people, especially those within the church, entrust ourselves to Jesus.

I know it sounds so simple, but it is hard to do.  It’s hard because His voice, unfortunately, is not normally the one that I listen to.  I’ll often go looking for wisdom from others, when quite frankly, I have the wisdom of Christ living inside of me.  It’s really a matter of surrender.  Am I fully surrender to the will and voice of God in my life or would I rather go on seeking the wisdom of others as I air all my dirty laundry before them?

The opinions of others and the praise of man is a deadly trap.  We must not seek to find our identity in the words of others.  We must instead find our true selves in the Lord Jesus Christ who always writes a story of love and life on our hearts if we would be willing to rest in His grace.  His grace that pulls us up from deadly valleys and into peace.  As the peace of Christ reigns within our hearts we can live knowing that whatever befalls us, we are standing on the rock that will never move.  For that, we can rejoice and be glad.

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Lord, may your words about me reign supreme in my heart today.  You remind me that it’s ok to fail. It’s ok to not get it right all the time.  It’s ok to not be everyone’s favorite person.  Lord, I don’t want to live for the approval of people.  I want to live for the glory of my HEavenly Father, let it be so, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.  

Is Jesus the True King of Your Ministry?

“He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”…(John 1:27). 

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John understood and knew his role and he was content with making Jesus the epicenter of his ministry.  Others wanted to give him a greater position than the one that God had placed before him and although he could have he did not claim a position or title that was not his own.

Can I just say, this is so hard for me to be like John?  My human heart wants to be seen by others.  It wants to be someone in the eyes of people.  Yet, I am, like John, simply a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.  After all, Jesus says, if you want to become great, you must become servant of all.

I am learning, with great humility, what it means to become servant of all.  The role of a shepherd doesn’t seek to protect itself, but instead to care deeply for the sheep.  The role of a Chrisitan is not for our own self-aggrandizement but for the service of others so that they might be encouraged through you and me.

John reminds us that the greatest people in the Kingdom know that Christ always reigns supreme and the more willing we are to place Him in His proper place within our hearts the more ministry we will be given as God starts to connect our hearts with people.

Lord, I am not worthy to untie the straps on your sandals, yet you call me daughter and friend, thank you.  Thank you for loving me deeply and for showering me with your grace.  Use my life, not so that I can be put on display, but so that you, Christ, might be magnified for the world to see, in Jesus name, Amen.