The Real Story

This is a little embarrassing to admit—but what the heck it’s the truth!
I’ve been a Jesus professing person for over three decades now, and I have just embraced the Real Story about Christianity.

This truth is . . . are you ready for it? It’s so simple . . . but here it is . . . The Cross paid for it all.
What?—you may be asking. This is elementary you may be thinking. Christianity 101—Right?

All true.

I have always believed a portion of this truth, but the totality of it recently arrested and impacted my heart and soul, changing my life.

I believe because of how hard my life has been—I would not allow myself to fully believe the Real Story about The Cross—too many trust issues—too fearful.

Fractional faith was my biggest enemy. I had no doubts about the power of The Cross to heal deep brokenness of my heart and soul.

That’s my story—this is what I preach—Jesus healed all my brokenness. For those of you who don’t know, I was fatherless and abused—from there came promiscuous behavior which led to heartbreak and two abortions—more brokenness. Unfaithfulness and betrayal have marked me—my marriage bottomed out many times. Important relationships failed—leaving deep wounds. Death was my companion with three miscarriages, the death of my two year old daughter and only brother. This was my life.

But Jesus healed all my brokenness. The heartache I’ve experience because of all those things is gone—healed. My heart is now full and whole and I am no longer identified by my past. Faithful Jesus healed it all.

I have no trouble believing He could and will heal brokenness. But when it came to health, finances and blessings I had a really hard time believing I could be blessed by God with good fortune in most areas of my life. And I settled never really expecting much more from God.

Why? Didn’t I read the Bible or hear the sermons, grasp the teachings or read the books and blogs about it? Yes I did, but my faith for those things was weak.

About 20 months ago I began to feel as if something was missing and I knew God was stirring me to greater faith.

I have by no means arrived, but I can say, I now truly believe The Cross paid for everything. I used to read passages of scripture such as Isaiah 51:1-3

Look to Abraham your father, And to Sarah who bore you; For I called him alone, And blessed him and increased him. For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.

And say yes, I believe that one day this will happen for me. I now read Isaiah 51 and absolutely believe Jesus is the fulfillment of this Word and this is my reality right now. Not when I see it or feel it, but right now I am blessed and increased just like Abraham and Sarah. And today He has comforted every waste place, and turned every desert into the Garden of Eden. Thanksgiving and joy are present now—because of what Jesus did on The Cross for me.

1 Peter 2:24 and Isaiah 53:5 were some of the other scriptures that I chose to ignore because I relied more on my feelings than the truth of the Word.

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

What used to plague me about believing this way was that I did not feel blessed or increased, I did not feel healed.

What changed?
Have I turned into a “name it, claim it” weirdo? Or have I gone overboard into the “extreme grace” camp? No. What’s changed is my faith and expectation in God’s faithfulness.
There has been a shift in my belief system—it’s the love, grace and mercy of God to transform my heart in such a way that’s brought immense hope, freedom and joy to my life.

I had this constant question in my heart that I would ask God (I believe God put it there to stir me) the question was; “What closes the gap between promise and fulfillment? I read a lot of promises in the Bible but I do not see a lot of fulfillment in my life.” I had to be honest. God was not offended with my question but was eager to answer.

The answer to this nagging question—the Real Story—is summed up in one word.

Faith.

Faith closes the gap between promise and fulfillment.

Do we really believe what God’s Word says? Will we stop weighing His Word against our circumstances and feelings?

If we will, then we’ll be able to walk in the truth and fulfillment of His Word right now. God’s Word is not a story of what might happen—no, it’s a book filled with prophecy of what would happen and a book of truth about what did happen.

What keeps us from living in the fulfillment of His promises in our life? The real story here is also one word.

Fear.

This makes perfect sense—the opposite of faith is fear.

Instead of being afraid, worried and doubtful, I am choosing to believe—to expect—to have hope—to trust God—to take His Word at face value. To stand on His Word without wavering being fully convinced that what He has promised He IS ABLE to perform.

If you can, grasp this analogy: Some wealthy benefactor has purchased a fully furnished mansion for you—it’s yours, all you have to do is live in it. But instead you choose to pitch a tent on the front lawn, just admiring it from a far—never entering in.

Doesn’t that sound ridiculous?
It’s the same with believing the Word of God. We can admire it and tip toe around it, but unless we step into it with full faith we will never own its promises.

Please be encouraged to join me in this amazing journey of greater faith. To read the Word of God and take it at face value—believing He is the same yesterday today and forever, He is not a man that He would lie and every Word—every promise is yours if you will only believe.

Don’t Sit on the Sidelines

Do you ever find yourself sitting on the sidelines in life? What makes people sit on the sidelines? For me it was fear—it kept me at a distance from life and from living a faith dominated lifestyle.

The opposite of fear is faith…ponder this a moment—if in any area of our life we are fearful—it’s a trust issue and the antidote is faith. The bottom line is—when we have true faith in God there is no room for fear.

As I’ve mentioned before I’ve been on a giant (wonderful and sometimes painful) journey to strengthen my faith. The amount of fear in my life was the tell-tale sign that lead me on this expedition in search of unmovable—relentless faith.

On this mission I first had to come to a major conclusion, which was God’s Faithfulness is Not On Trial  nor should it ever be. Yes, I have walked through many heart breaking adventures in my life, but God was never to blame.

Oh but the enemy of my soul was ever present to accuse God with subtle allegations, that unfortunately over time created a bed of comfort for me—a place in the midst of pain where I found a bit of shelter.

The bad news is when we agree with the devil it never turns out good! The good news is when we wander from truth, our gracious; long suffering shepherd always provides a way for us to return.

A good thing to realize about lack of faith is that it’s a heart issue—it’s a place in our heart needing to be perfected in His love. A place that simply needs to be let go of—a place where we make a beautiful exchange—our fear, pain and doubt for His unrelenting love and freedom.

Who wants to be partnered with fear anyway?

The Bible tells us,

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

I started off this blog intending to write about my big adventure this past weekend, but ended up writing about the my bigger adventure of acquiring deeper faith. The two adventures really do go hand in hand and the lesser of the two would not have been possible without the first…

One way fear effected me was that physically I was not very courageous. My husband and kids they are beyond courageous—they are borderline thrill seekers! And I normally just sit, watch (pray) and take pictures, but not this weekend!  Well…a third of this weekend—they participated in three courageous events and me—only one (maybe next year)!

I found myself fearless when on our family vacation, I decided to make the one hundred foot rock climb to a beautiful crystal clear waterfall. Yes friends I did it without hesitation!

waterfall

Each step upward was made rock by rock. And when the climb got intense my husband and sons were before and behind me, ever faithfully holding out their hands, and pointing out the best places to next set my foot. Even when a snake popped his head out of a crack in the rocks and when another slithered on top of one sons foot, I kept going—even when spider webbed rocks where unsecured and shaky, yes even when the moss was slippery and the freezing waterfall pounded on my head and shoulders as I maneuvered across a one foot  wide, one hundred foot high ledge—I, by God’s grace, simply choose not to give fear a second thought!

The climb reminded me of my journey—my life. There always has been and always will be reasons to fear, but God in His unending faithfulness is right behind me—right behind you—and He’s ahead of us, holding out His hand, pointing out the best way to go. Encouraging us to take life one step (rock) at a time, never allowing us to fall—even when our feet land on unstable ground. And when the devil (that snake) rears his ugly head threatening us, we must realize all we have to fear is fear itself. And fear is really nothing but a facade. God’s the real deal and if we allow Him to perfect us in His love we can walk in the freedom He gave His life for, we can get off the sidelines and we can experience the waterfalls of life—crystal clear and refreshing.

Please be encouraged to strengthen your faith (click here to read how: Fully Convinced)—to say no to fear and all its restrictions and yes to God’s faithfulness!

waterfall2 Simply beautiful—so glad I did’t miss out by sitting on the sidelines!

Here are some pictures of my family doing what they do…being adventurous! These are the ones I didn’t participate in!

rock       oasis
The kids climbing down huge rocks leading into a vast canyon and beautiful oasis.

mr bridge  Girls jumping off a bridge.

bridge 2
My husband and son sitting on top of this bridge before jumping off.

 

sunset
God doing what He does best…just being Himself.

 

 

Word In—Word Out

Do you ever feel stuck? Do you desire to live a life that over comes? More than likely most of us can say yes to these to questions.

I know a simple—but life changing way to get out of the stuck rut and live a life that not only over comes but thrives. I’m not saying I’m an expert at life nor that my life is bad—just saying in living and applying this concept—the days of feeling wedged-in by the cares of life are fleeting.

The concept is Word in—Word out.

It’s as uncomplicated as it sounds. Put the Word of God in and speak it out. What’s difficult about this is remembering to do it throughout our day.

Because we are human and live in a consuming and busy culture—doing this once a day is not as effective as doing it all day. All day?? Yes, all day! We do it all day every day because we need the Word’s truth to be our truth.

The Word of God is alive, active and creative, (Hebrews 4:12, Psalm 33:6 & 9). When ingested it cleanses, comforts, heals and creates. The Word brings life to every thought and situation it touches.

When we take the Word in, we are in essence taking in the presence of God—inhaling Jesus Himself. And when we speak it out, we are breathing the life of God to every situation with our very words. So not only does it change who we are, but it creates new life to all we speak it to.

Most importantly this concept increases our faith. As we speak it out of our own mouth, our ears hear it and begin to believe it.

The way it works (mechanically) is instead of letting our thoughts run wild or consume us, we instead use our idle thought time to take the Word in—and speak it out. A good way to remember is to write an applicable scripture on a note card or sticky note and post it where you’ll see it.

As you put the Word in and speak it out remember to believe it. Believe the truth—the truth that it cannot enter your heart and soul without creating change and imparting hope—hope that changes our perspective causing us to see the beauty of our life through the eyes of Jesus.

Please be encouraged to draw nearer to God by breathing Him in and speaking Him out!

Fortify Your Faith

Do you ever marvel at the countless times our heart and soul need encouragement, reassurance or a simple reminder of God’s faithfulness? I do. The baffling truth is—human nature always causes us to forget God’s faithfulness and revert to old thought patterns of doubt and self-reliance. This is one reason we must daily fortify our faith. We don’t read our Bible and pray everyday out of religious routine, we do it because we need continual downloads of truth that strengthen our belief—drawing us nearer to Jesus.

I’ve been in a huge battle, a battle that’s generations old, not just on my side of the family but on my husband’s side as well. I mentioned in a recent blog, the victory I’ve had over the fear of lack and lack its self. I truly believe it’s been defeated, but of course it regularly tries to remind me otherwise. This week is one of those times.

What did I do?
First, I ‘ll tell you what I didn’t do, I did not agree with it—I’m choosing not to listen to lies and accusations.
Second, praying and reading the truth and choosing to believe it!
Third, asked for help. I have two friends who live hundreds of miles away—they always have my back. With assurance I sent out an email asking for prayer. We never have to fight our battles by our self. Both replied with encouragement, one friend sent the following response. With her permission I’m sharing it with you, it was too good not to!

As you read it let your faith be fortified. It’s written by Cathy Brookshire, my friend, sojourner, mentor and sister.

“Remember – Jesus asks you to find Him today – in the moment and to be thankful – right now – for His presence and His provision.

It is always when we start living in the past or the future when “old friends” [fear, worry, doubt] come to visit.

Is the manna He has given enough for today? Will He provide the necessary manna tomorrow? The Israelites didn’t know. . . so they had to put their trust in God, believe God, rest in today’s provision and trust if there was no manna in the morning then God was going to do a new thing.

Their trust could not be in the manna – the provision – the whole reason manna was provided was so their trust would be placed on God and God alone and they would find everything they needed in life right there, right in the middle of nothing, right in the middle of the desert.

The Israelites did not need one thing added to their lives because they had the very presence of God. All God wanted them to do was to see Him, know Him, love Him receive His love for themselves and to be satisfied in Him to taste and see that He is good.

God is asking us the same question: “Am I enough?” My circumstances do not ever have to change – only my heart – only my perspective – if God is with me then I am satisfied. I am whole. I am healed. I am provided for. I am cared for. I am loved. I can not stay the same if I choose to sit in His presence. I am changed. I am transformed. I have no need. Everything that is not of Him has to flee.

Today I choose God. Today I choose satisfaction in Jesus. Today I choose rest in His presence. Today I choose peace that surpasses understanding, as I hand over every prayer/need. Today I choose to be loved and to have His love fill me, heal me make me whole.

God is looking for His people to put their trust in Him and Him alone. . .come Lord and may Your presence be enough to satisfy our souls.”

Please be encouraged today to make Jesus enough—to trust in Him—not in what He provides!

Romans 4:20-21 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

What’s Dead in Your Life?

In this season of renewed faith, my heart is stirring—swelling with the possibilities of the concept found in Ezekiel 37. It by no means is a new idea, but as we know, the distractions of weak faith can cause a forgetfulness to settle on us—keeping us from remembering the tools God has provided for us to live successfully. And seriously, if we will apply these concepts—our life will change.

First let me give you a little insight as to what’s happening in Ezekiel 37. God takes Ezekiel to a valley of dry dead bones—this was not just a few dead bodies but a whole valley full, and asks him a question, He says, “Can these bones live?” What God is really asking Ezekiel is “Do you believe—do you have the faith to believe what’s dead can come to life?”

Such a simple question, but so deep and personal.

God is looking into our eyes—into our heart—asking you and I “Do you believe the dry bones in your life can live?”

Ezekiel’s answer to God’s question is an awesome response of faith—he turns the responsibility of such a miracle back to the Miracle Maker Himself and says “Only you know, sovereign Lord” Essentially “I trust in You and your sovereignty—you are good—you can do anything—just say the word—just look in that direction and it’ll be done.”

When our faith in God takes the hand of expectancy and partners with the truth of His Word—we’d better brace our self, because that’s all it takes for mountains to move—for miracles to happen. Faith stemming from a relationship of complete dependency on God—will bring breakthrough.

Whenever God asks us a question like this it’s rhetorical—He’s not searching for an answer, but stirring our hope—nudging our belief and expectancy—arousing our faith!

Next, God lets Ezekiel know what is required of him. Yes, we must do our part—faith is an action word. The Lord God instructed him to prophesy and say “Oh dry bones hear the Word of the Lord” I love this! All we have to do is first believe, then speak/pray God’s Word to the things in our life that are dehydrated, empty or dead. Tell the dry bones to give heed to the truth—tell them how big our God is.

Ezekiel writes, “So I prophesied as I was commanded” and when he did there was a noise, a rattling as the bones came together, as sinew and flesh covered them.

But that was not all, the bones came together but they were still void of life. This is the picture of believers today—lots of movement, but no life—a lot of information—tons of knowledge, but no knowing of God the Father, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. This is the cause of the dehydration—this is why faith is weak—we need to put away our rules and come into relationship.

In verse 9, the Lord tells Ezekiel

“Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’”

The meaning of the word breath is spirit. We must speak to the Spirit of God—inviting Him to come breathe life into lifelessness.

Lastly Ezekiel responds to the Lord (a response on our part is always necessary) he says So I prophesied, just as he commanded me.” And when he did what was commanded the breath entered the dead and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army!

Everyday, all day we are faced with something or someone needing life. We can speak, pray and prophesy into our own personal life, our spouse and marriage, our kids, family and churches, into those who need God, into our businesses and work place, into hopes and dreams that are dormant. We can breathe words of life into relationships, finances, health, bad character, weaknesses and addictions—the possibilities are endless!

When we speak life and when the Holy Spirit breathes His breath into a person or situation it’s the act of inflating what was deflated. What’s deflated and dead in your life?

Will you prophesy and speak to your circumstances—will you tell the Breath of God to breathe His life to those situations around you—as commanded? It would be crazy not to!

What would stop you?

Fear of disappointment?

Weak faith?

If so—be encouraged to stir yourself—start by prophesying to your thirsty faith! Speak the Word to your unbelief and watch it form—speak to the Breath of God to invade your faith and heart—then listen for the signs of life!

As you listen for the signs of life keep three things in mind…

1. Seek Him first—eyes on the Miracle Maker not the miracle

2. Patience—don’t waste the wait with worry

3. Remember—the devil’s main objective is to rob you of your faith—resist him!

Ezekiel 37:1-10,  The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”  Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

Our Current Trial

What trial are you currently in? I want to share with you the one I just went through. As I eluded in my last blog Embrace the Unknown, God was calling me to step out onto the waters of the unknown. He wasn’t calming the storm before me—He wasn’t changing my circumstance then asking me to come. No, the wind was blowing and the waves were tossing!

The funny thing (it’s funny now) is the trail I was in was nothing I hadn’t experienced before. I’ve been in literal devastation—and lived tell of God’s faithfulness. In one summer not only did my childhood hero—my brother—die, but my two-year old daughter as well (read about it here Hero of Grace—Finding Treasure). Many times my marriage dangled by a mere thread. I’ve had three miscarriages, and been on the verge of death myself. We’ve lost our home and our business-starting over many times. I’ve had three of my dear sons walk away from the Lord—very heartbreaking—to say the least. I’ve been disowned by my family. And these are just the major events after marriage.

So I’m no stranger to suffering, what was so different about my current trial? I believe it was different because this time I knew (sort of) what I was fighting for. And as I look back over all the years, I see I was always fighting for the same thing.

It was a fight for my faith.

Your current trial is a fight for your faith.

For about the last year I’ve been in a season of purposefully strengthening my faith—my goal is to be fully convinced without wavering, (Romans 4:20). Therefore in this trial I was fighting to believe God’s Word and the devil was fighting for his ground of unbelief in my heart. God was purposing to remove a deeper layer of fear in my life—namely the fear-of-lack. Fear rooted it’s self in my life when I was a child. It makes sense—God’s plan for my life is that I’d be a person of deep, unwavering faith—the devil’s plan—just the opposite—fear.

Throughout my years of suffering I could feel God’s comfort, and even when the sea of the unknown tossed, as I remember it now, I felt I was in the boat. This time He stood out on the frenzied ocean, extending His hand, asking me to step out on a sea of unknown waters—to trust Him even as it raged.

I’m sure He’s always wanted this scenario and every battle I’ve fought has brought me nearer to this. And while I’m embarrassed to just now, decades after becoming a Christian, come to this place, on the other hand God is ecstatic with me!

I really thought I failed in this current trial, because my head continually bobbed in and out of the water. The heavy hand of the enemy’s oppression—the spirit of unbelief—continually tried to push my head under. I couldn’t sleep and when I did, I’d wake in panic. Worry overwhelming me like never before. The difference was—I fought tooth and nail to believe God’s promises. The harder I fought the heavier it got. Some days I sat all day just reading the Word or listening to worship music, continually praying—determined to own what I claim to believe.

I felt like I wavered, (I’m always way harder on myself than God is). He told me I won the battle the moment I determined to believe—the moment I chose to sit all day reading His Word instead of escaping by sleeping or watching a movie.

The bummer to pressing in while in battle with the enemy is that he presses harder. But God came running to save me the moment I began to falter. And in His faithful love He waited, watching and interceding for my success, holding back breakthrough—until just the right hour, knowing stronger unwavering faith was my real need.

What’s your real need? Breakthrough or stronger faith?

Have you ever read the book of Job? God allowed catastrophes (plural) to strike him. In it the enemy of his soul had a plan, which was to steal Job’s faith and get Him to curse God. God’s plan for Job was that he would not just know about Him but for Job to actually know Him, making God Lord of all—this meant Job’s faith would have to be foolproof.

Over the years God has delivered me from many aspects of fear and I’m very happy to say I am now on the other side of this battle—the fear-of-lack and the spirit of lack its self are broken off my life! You have got to love the faithfulness of God!

This is my song of thanksgiving to God! Psalm 34:1-7,

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord. The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.

Please be encouraged in your current trial to understand it’s more about your faith than your need.

James 1:2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Embrace the Unknown

Do you ever find yourself facing the unknown? For people who live by faith this really is the norm. Whether we like it or not, no matter how much we think we are in control, we never know what’s around the corner.

When we embrace the unknown of tomorrow, we are in essence accepting the out stretched hand of God as Peter did (Matthew 14:22-33). He’s saying “come with Me” He’s inviting us to dwell on the sea of the unknown—inviting us to live a life of audacious faith.

In following God the one decision we are always faced with is trust. Will we trust even when we can’t see? Will we embrace the unknown with fully abandoned trust in God—releasing our life into His hands, believing He has good planned for us, or will we worry about tomorrow?

Will we say no to fear and yes to stepping out of our comfort zone and be the people God has called us to be?

When Peter accepted God’s invitation the wind was blowing and the sea tossing. And yes—the unknown looks a lot like that sea, and the question “What if I sink” always arises. Likewise the temptation to shrink back into the familiar, even if it’s not ideal, continually tries to threaten us.

The unknown that God is calling us to is a deep sea, and our feet will slip and sometimes we will be overwhelmed and even begin to sink—but if we keep our focus on Jesus and not our circumstances—we will never drown.

The beauty of the unknown is that though it be a deep sea—this sea is where the depth of God’s grace abounds, the place we experience His glory—where our faith is made stronger—this place in which His presence dwells.

What unknown is God asking you to embrace?

As for me it’s a deeper level of submission along with new levels of trust. And I honestly have to say I’m being stretched way beyond my comfort levels. But as I speak God’s word to my soul and allow Him to change my heart, I am certain I will prosper in this new season.

No matter what our unknown may be, at the end of the day we are all faced with the same question—will we rest and find our peace in God’s sovereignty?

Please be encouraged to ask God to change your heart so that you may embrace the great unknown—living a life of reckless faith.

Respond to His Promises

Starting a New Year can be refreshing or overwhelming. Whichever state you find yourself in—keep in mind God’s promises of faithfulness and grace.

  • Faithfulness
    God’s faithfulness is like no other—always true and never-changing. The most impacting reality for me in 2013 is summed up in a single statement “It is against God’s character to be unfaithful.” God can never be unfaithful—He’s not capable—it’s not even in Him! This absolutely is a truth to keep in the forefront of our heart and life.
  • Grace
    God’s grace works in our life as unseen force—divine help—assisting us in loving Him wholeheartedly and making Him Lord of our life.

2 Peter 1:5-7 reminds us that our heart and soul must be intentional in responding to the promises of God,

Make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Add to your faith a generous provision of moral excellence, to moral excellence—knowledge, to knowledge—self control, to self-control—patient endurance, to patient endurance—godliness, to godliness—brotherly affection and to brotherly affection—love.

We respond by making an effort to integrate these virtues into our life. The reason we need to respond to God’s promises is found in verse 8,

For if you posses these qualities and they abound in you, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The above truth should grip our heart with both urgency and gratefulness. Urgency, because we have no desire to be barren and unfruitful in knowing God. And grateful because in His faithfulness He gives us the keys—the answers—on the how of having a fruitful relationship with Him. What’s more He doesn’t just tell us what to do and leave us to figure it out, but provides divine help (grace) to incorporate these qualities into our heart and life. You’ve got to love Him!

Verse 9 goes on to say what we will be like if we choose not to pursue and posses these virtues,

For those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted, even to blindness, forgetting that they are cleansed from old sins.

One of the things I love about God, is the way He’s always looking after us. The reason He doesn’t want us to be barren or unfruitful in our relationship with Him is because He cares for us. He knows the amazing blessed life we can live when our relationship with Him is prioritized and in tact.

Please be encouraged to intentionally respond to the promises of God by fortifying your heart, soul and life with the virtues listed in 1 Peter 1:5-7—remembering the greatest of these is love!

Happy New Year!

2 Peter 1:5-11
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Change Your Situation!

Life is full of ups and downs—some big, others small. That’s just life—no need for anxiety! The questions are—how do we manage life in the seemingly dry or difficult times? How do we turn a desert place into a spring? Make a dead place alive? How do I change my situation???

Psalm 84 has the answer,

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring.

1.      1.  We are blessed when we find our strength in God. Blessed doesn’t mean we won’t have ups and downs—no, it simply means we are never alone or left without solutions in our ups and downs.

Finding our strength in God is a trade—we give Him our weakness in exchange for His incomprehensible strength. Acknowledging our weakness—basically humbling our self—makes way for a flood of God’s grace, strengthening us to get through any situation.

2.       2. We set our heart on eternity—ever looking forward. As long as we focus on this world and all the fulfillment it can bring—we will come up empty. We must set our focus on Jesus, knowing we are on pilgrimage—a journey—always moving forward—constantly drawing nearer.

3.     (Next is the answer to the big question…”How do I change my situation?”)

3. When we pass through a desert place, we determine—resolve in our self to make it a spring.

You can change your situation. How? By calling God into it. As God’s presence fills our heart, soul and life even the driest of times are refreshed.The dead places are made alive by His very life in ours.

I love how verse 6 of Psalm 84 says “they” make it a spring. It’s a choice. We can wallow in the dust of our hard place, whining to God or worse accusing Him of unfaithfulness, or we can choose to make it a spring. Yes it’s hard. But worth it! Remember; the purest gold is wrought from the hottest fire!

Please be encouraged—to determine—to make every dry, dead place in your life a spring.

 

Move Forward

Sometimes moving forward feels like you’re wading through thick mud—slow and tedious movements wear on you—making advancement seem purposeless.

I have five clues to help us move forward a lot quicker in life—finding purpose for all our efforts.

These clues are found in Philippians 3:12-15. I know this is a familiar passage of scripture to most, so please don’t discard it too quickly but let God speak to you through it.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

Clue #1—Don’t be a know it all.

If the apostle Paul says he doesn’t know everything and he hasn’t attained it all—then for sure we haven’t!

Clue #2—Lay Hold of what Christ has chosen for you.

What has Christ laid hold of you for? In other words what is the purpose of your life? Why has God called you? First and foremost we are created to have relationship with Him. Start therethen realize you are created for good works in Christ. Seize every opportunity God creates for you!

Clue #3—Forget the past.

Whether your past is good bad or ugly—it has past by you already—just let it go and live in the here and now of life. Smile at the futureembracing it!

There was a time in my life when marital issues and the untimely death of my two year old daughter, caused me to sink really lowI was terrified to move forward. The fear of my future resembling my past—incapacitated me—making it very difficult to live in the present.

We can’t give fear any place in our heart and life—by faith we overcome our past and accept the futurebelieving in God’s goodness knowing if He leads us by suffering or by joy it’s all well with our soul.

To quote my Pastor “Don’t live life looking in the rear-view mirror” Have you ever tried to drive forward while looking in the rear-view mirror? Try it sometime—or maybe not—it would be way too dangerous! This is true not just in driving but life in general—especially where our relationship with God is concerned.

Clue #4—Reach forward to what is ahead of you.

If we don’t press forward, by faith, with expectation of the goodness of God—life will be pointless.

Determine to believe God has good plans for you—whether they be hard or easy He wants to give you a future and a hope, reach forward and grasp those plans! Jeremiah 29:11 is not just some cute saying we quote—no, these words are alive and active they are creative—we only have to believe and let them create a new hope in us.

Clue #5—Mature.

Let’s grow up already! Maturity in Christ is essential for moving forward. We must read, learn, speak, obey and apply the Word of God and it’s principles to our life.

Life in Christ, by grace—is equal to walking on solid rock. Life outside of Him is equivalent to thick mud we must trudge through.

Please be encouraged to be found in relationship with Him—putting one foot in front of the other—ever trustingever moving forward.

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