Category: unconditional love

Suddenly Moments

What do you do when you are having a bad day? Do you ever just worship God? Give thanks, glory or praise? Understandably being the humans that we are—this is not always our default reaction.

But I want to challenge you to step out of your normal default box and into the realm of suddenly moments—that result in God shaking our life to its very core and bringing about change.

I heard an amazing message—totally worth repeating—on Acts 16. Follow along with me as I reiterate what was happening and how God—our Knight in shining armor suddenly comes to save the day.

Paul and Silas, in the will of God—directed by Him—went to Macedonia. As they were lingering in Philippi, they met a God-fearing woman named Lydia who on hearing the Word of the Lord believed with all her heart, as a result she and her household were baptized and insisted the men stay at their home. At this point all is going well, Paul’s preaching—God’s moving and they are invited to stay and be cared for, in a rather nice place. Acts 16:6-15

One day on the way to prayer a demon possessed psychic, slave girl, started following them around, drawing attention to them by yelling out “These men are working for the Most High God. They’re laying out the road of salvation for you!”

Paul, not wanting to be in agreement with her or to be identified as being with her, ignored her for a few days then finally when too annoyed he cast the demon out of her. The slave girl was suddenly free and her owners very upset—their lucrative little business had come to an end. Consequently, Paul and Silas were dragged into the market place—they were lied about and accused, causing the crowd to turn into an angry gang. Their clothes were torn off and they were ordered to be severely beaten and thrown into prison, under high security wearing leg irons.  Acts 16:16-24

Paul and Silas—bloody and beaten, sit chained in prison. Would you say they were having a bad day? Absolutely!

What did they do? Did they accuse God of unfaithfulness by whining and complaining?

No—just the opposite! Paul and Silas were found praying and worshipping.

What would you do?

I love how Paul and Silas handled the situation! Their default heart and soul reaction was to pray and worship God—in doing so they were giving thanks.

I pray our default heart reaction would be to silence the mouth of the accuser and give thanks by worshipping God.

How? Why? Because the truth is—He is always good. We must train our heart and soul to worship and give thanks according to truth—not circumstance.

This is when the suddenly moments of God’s faithfulness rule our life.

What happens next in Acts 16:25-26 is the cry of our heart.

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake! Paul and Silas’ worship caused God to shake the very foundations and set the prisoners free—the scripture says immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.

Not just our own freedom from the prisons we find ourselves inoccurs when we worship, but freedom for others as well.

I don’t know about you but I need and want God to suddenly shake the foundation of various situations in my life and in the life of those I love and care about.

This Word from the book of Acts has brought fresh understanding to the scripture in 2 Thessalonians 5:18

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Please be encouraged to grab ahold of and own this concept. Worship God, giving Him thanks in every situation—lifting our eyes from life and circumstances to the God of the impossible—the One who can suddenly shake any situation and change the landscape of impossible surroundings.

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Avoiding Relationship Failure

Relationships come in many shapes and sizes. From intensely deep to causal. No matter the relationship—the concept of preferring one another always applies.

This morning as I was preparing a word for a friend whose marring later today, the Lord dropped the word preference into my heart, along with Romans 12:10,

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Following is a re-post of a blog written about this time last year. This concept is timeless. Pleaseenjoy and apply!

Just the other day, I had a great conversation with a young bride to be. I was reminded of an amazing concept the Lord deposited in my heart years ago regarding relationships.

This approach to relationships is especially ideal when it comes to marriage.

Before I share this amazing secret with you, let me ask you a question. What do you think is the leading cause of any relationship malfunction and divorce?

Granted, I’m no expert but what God has shown me, is that selfishness and pride are the number one culprits of relationship failure.

I call it, “The Me factor.”

The secret  to relationships is “Preference.” Defined as: to value more highly, to hold before or above; and to give priority to.

Our example is found in Jesus. At the cross He preferred you and me. He knew it would be a brutal endeavor to go through, yet He chose God’s will over His. (Luke 22:42)

The concept unfolds as this—if each person in the relationship/marriage prefers and thinks more highly of the other, caring for the needs of the other person over their own needs, then all needs will be met.

Living a life of preference takes the focus off of our self; what I want—what I need and puts the emphasis on the other person in the relationship. We move out of the selfishness of concentrating on our own wants, needs and desires and tune into what will bless the other person.

Is this an easy way to live? No.

Why? Because in order to be like Jesus we must die daily—we must decrease so He can increase.

The fear to this lifestyle is; what if the other person in the relationship doesn’t want to live a preferring life style? What about Me? How will my needs be met?

Valid concern. The answer—Jesus.

Since He really is, the only one who should or could, complete, fulfill or meet our needs—then He is the answer.

This was a difficult concept to grasp, mainly because it opposed my flesh. But once I submitted to the Lord in thisit changed my life, not to mention all my relationships!

In my marriage I stopped choking the life out of my husband trying to get him to meet my every need. Essentially I discovered that Jesus really is enough for me.

This concept brings freedom. It frees you to go deeper in relationship with God, making Him all you need. It frees you to love others, love your spouse, parents, children and siblings without putting the heavy burden of meeting your needs on them. Basically you are free to love without unreasonable expectations on either party.

I have found such joy and depth in my relationship with God since He asked me to live life in this manner of preference.

I invite you to go deeper. To relinquish your wants, needs and desires to God and let Him be “The One” to complete you. You seriously won’t be sorry—just free. Free to love and be loved!

Eternally Minded

To live eternally minded is to set our complete desire on the things of God—exclusively giving all we are and have to what matters eternally.

Do you live with an eternal focus?

Although we may aim to live with an eternal mindset—it is easy to divert our attention to the here and now. After all, life and all its details—do scream for our devotion.

Living mindful of eternity does not mean we live careless of this life—just the opposite—we live as good stewards of all God entrusts to us, because we know everything has an eternal value.

Just the thought that our life and its actions carry an eternal value—should make us stop and evaluate what we spend our time, money, deeds, thoughts and words on.  Likewise this truth causes us to inspect our heart, because we know where our heart is—our treasure will be as well.

Everyone will face eternity and what we do now will matter then. It is important to examine our life and heart in regard to eternity.

  • First—are we in right standing with God and Jesus?
  • Second—do we live our life wholly devoted to furthering the Kingdom of God?
  • Third—are we good stewards to the life God’s given us, and to all He entrusts to us?

Isaiah 55:1-3 says

Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food.  “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.”

Essentially this scripture asks; why spend your life in service to self? Jesus is the bread of life. When we submit all—not just some—or part—but all to Him—we will be without want.

Please be encouraged to focus your heart on what matters—Jesus. In doing so we can’t help but to be eternally minded.

Ecc. 12:13-14

Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.

Skillful Living 101—22 Parenting

Parenting . . . the hardest most complex job on earth. Yet parenting holds the highest value and reward of anything we might possibly do with our life.

Psalm 127:3

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

As a parent I am so grateful to have an instruction manual on child rearing—as I’m sure all parents are.

Unfortunately—most instruction manuals or directions don’t get read until completely necessary. If you’re young—please be encouraged to read the manual now! If you are in the middle of raising children—read the manual now! If your children are young adults—especially read the manual now! If you are a grandparent—read the manual now! It’s never too early or too late!

Being on this end of life where all but one of my kids are grown adults, I sometimes bemoan the fact that there are no “do-overs” when it comes to raising children.

If your kids are grown and your heart is heavy—caught up in regretfully recounting your mistakes—remember there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. Ask for forgiveness—forgive yourself and do God’s best from here on out. God is a faithful redeemer—He redeems our errors and covers our sin.

The first ingredient to parenting is humble, unconditional love. We must by grace and the Holy Spirit’s assistance, love our kids the way God loves us—He never gives up on us. We must always hope and believe in our children. Sometimes love takes on different forms of behavior—this means—tough love is sometimes necessary.

At times I marvel at how complex parenting really is. Parenting is a letting go adventure. These children are born to us, of our own flesh and blood—and we lovingly train them to grow up—leave us—and live their own lives.

Parenting, from the very first hour, demands complete reliance on God. I am so thankful to have an all knowing, all loving, all understanding One to lean on. Prayerfully depending on God is imperative. Since raising children is a lifelong commitment with so many ups, downs and curves—all scripture applies.

One of the things I know—from experience—is we the parents, cannot instruct or impart to our children what we do not ourselves possess. If we want our children to be healthy people of integrity and good character, then we must be as well. There is no room for double-mindedness. Most things are caught rather than taught.

Proverbs—the Book of Skillful Living has crucial advice on parenting—no matter your stage of life.

Let’s look at Proverbs 22 and, with a sincere heart, intentionally live these principles and purpose to teach them to our children and grandchildren.

Verse 1—“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.”

  • Taking on the name of Christ—invaluable
  • God’s favor—vital

Verse 2—“The rich and the poor have this in common; the Lord is the maker of them all.”

  • Identity is found in Christ alone

Verse 4—“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.”

  • Humility and the fear of the Lord are high priorities to God
  • The fear of the Lord inherit within a person helps them to love and obey God and parents
  • Honoring God aids us in honoring our self and others, as well as authority

Verse 5, 3, 8, 10, 24, 25—“Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; he who guards his soul will be far from them.”

  • Guarding your soul from evil is crucial to a successful life

Verse 6—“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

  • We can never stop pouring God’s love and Word into our kids. I’ve seen this dynamic take place in the life of my 2nd son. When he gave up living for himself and surrendered to God—all that had been poured into his heart as a child never departed—God’s Word is timeless, alive and active, it never sleeps but always accomplishes what God sets out to do.
  • Love the church and teach kids the same

Verses 11 & 14—“He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend.” “The mouth of an immoral woman is a deep pit; he who is abhorred by the Lord will fall there.”

  • A love for purity and grace are never overrated
  • Friendship with the King—highly valuable!

Verse15—“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 29:15, Proverbs 23:13-14, Proverbs 29:17, Proverbs 13:24

  • The Word repeatedly warns—If we love our children we will discipline them
  • Loving discipline and correction will create healthy adults
  • Warning to fathers: Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Verses 18 & 19—“Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; for it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; let them all be fixed upon your lips, so that your trust may be in the Lord”

  • Preserve wisdom, knowledge and trust in your heart
  • Teach kids to bind themselves to Godly wisdom

Verse 29 & 13—“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.”

  • God seriously does not approve of slothful behavior
  • Diligently teach Children diligence
  • A good work ethic is priceless

Skillful Living Tools:

    • Children are a heritage and reward—enjoy them!
    • Children are a huge responsibility—train them in the ways of the Lord
    • Read and apply the instruction manual—the Bible
    • Pray without ceasing
    • Teach kids to prayerfully depend on God
    • Teach integrity and Godly moral character
    • Do not be double minded
    • Teach kids to be single focused—God first
    • Love never fails—unconditionally love the kids God gifted to you
    • Fathers, do not provoke your children
    • Love the church and teach kids the same

Please be encouraged to surrender your parenting to God and His Word—trusting Him for all the answers.

Side Note: God is redeeming the struggling, wayward child—no matter their age. My heart knows the anguish of watching your child self-destruct. My advice to you—keep your heart focused on God. Find peace and rest for your heart, in relationship with Him for He cares for you and can carry your burden, if you will just give it to Him. I am praying for you and your children.

Read and apply all of Proverbs 22 and please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated) at the top of this page!

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:6-7