The beginning of a great ransom story. And you’re in it

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. The word “advent” means arrival. The Advent we celebrate is not just any arrival. We celebrate THE Arrival: Jesus.

This is the Advent: the coming of hope to the hopeless, the arrival of peace to war-torn exiles, and the long-awaited freedom for generation after generation.

It’s the elaborate yet stunningly simple plan of God to come to His children, to become like them in the most unexpected, unglamorous, fully human way: a Babe in a manger….born of a virgin.

It’s the beginning of a great ransom story. And you’re in it.

Our ransom story begins way back at the beginning. Way back to the fall in the Garden of Eden:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:1-15 NIV)

“No sooner was the wound given than the remedy was provided and revealed” -Matthew Henry

God’s rescue plan started right then. He couldn’t leave us there. His weapon of choice: Grace. He would use Grace to draw us back to Him in the form of His Son. A Messiah. A Savior. Emmanuel: God With Us.

Yes, the evil one would strike His heel. Jesus would experience real suffering with real blood, sweat and tears. But, Jesus would have the last word. When He cried out, “It is finished!” the serpent’s head would receive the final, fatal blow.

This is how He would become God With Us. Once His work is done….once you and I accept Him as Lord and Savior…..we will never be separated from Him again. God.With.Us.

In this Holiday season, I pray you all are keeping your devotion time going. Often we put them aside when we’re busy, but that’s when we need them the most. When we’re distracted and busy we are a prime target for the enemy. And this Holiday is about Christ anyway, right? Let’s keep our focus and the flame of our love affair with Him burning brightly. Do an Advent study/Devotion this season and worship Him. Grow deeper and closer to our Savior.

You’ll find keeping Christ in Christmas will help your busy Holiday time go much better! Also important: We see a lot of people this time of year that we don’t see regularly….as well as stores packed full of strangers. What a prime opportunity to share Christ and His Gospel. Remember why you’re here in the first place 😊

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Dear Lord

So many friends and loved ones are going through some very hard things right now. I’m praying so much for them all. And in case any of you are too, I want to pass this prayer on to you:

Dear Lord God,

You are my Shepherd.

You watch over me.

You tend to the needs of my heart and my life.

Help me to trust Your guidance in this time of uncertainty. 

It is so hard to look ahead and not see a clear vision for my future. 

Please help me to trust in Your timing. 

Let me always seek Your will.

Please fill me with Your peace, knowing that You are the one true God and You love me.

You are…

…my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.

Psalm 91:2

Thank You for watching over me.

In Jesus’ name I pray, 

Amen.

Love+Wisdom+Grace

“If you didn’t teach your child something then don’t assume he knows or understands it.” ~Dr. Karyn Purvis

Don’t be afraid to go backwards to move forward.

Bringing balance in our conversations


Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4: 5-6

Imagine you are getting out the ingredients to bake a batch of cookies, but you have unknowingly mixed up the salt and the sugar. You end up putting in a dash of sugar and a cup of salt.

Now, picture a little child taking a big bite of one of those cookies. How long will it take the child to realize something is wrong? Do you think he or she will ask for another cookie? Of course not!

The art of seasoning is a matter of balance. Just enough salt to notice, but not too much salt to overwhelm. Salt creates a thirst, a desire for more. As Christians, we sprinkle the salt of God’s grace and gospel into our daily conversations. We don’t saturate every conversations in a way that drives others away. The artful seasoning of God’s loving grace into our conversations will create a thirst and a desire in the lives of others. They will long to know more of Jesus. This is how you “make the most of every opportunity.”

THE Arrival

In this Holiday season, I pray you all are keeping your devotion time going. Often we put them aside when we’re busy but that’s when we need them the most. We’re distracted and busy…and a prime target for the enemy. And, this Holiday is about Christ anyway, right? Let’s keep our focus and the flame of our love affair with Him burning bright. Do an Advent study/Devotion this season and worship Him. Grow deeper and closer to our Savior. 

And I think you’ll find keeping Christ in Christmas will help your busy Holiday time go much better! Also important: We see a lot of people this time of year that we don’t see regularly….as well as stores packed full of strangers. What a prime opportunity to share Christ and His Gospel. Remember why you’re here 😊

Arrival. That is what the word “advent” means. Only the Advent we are celebrating here is not just any arrival. It is THE Arrival.

This is Advent: the coming of hope to the hopeless, the arrival of peace, the long-awaited exhale of freedom for generation after generation gasping for air.

Advent is the elaborate yet stunningly simple plan of God to descend to His children, to become like them in the most unexpected, unglamorous, fully human way….and He’s coming again! 

Expect Him. Watch for Him. 

This is the beginning of a great ransom story. And you’re in it. 
Merry Christmas!

Come out, come out wherever you are….

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord….”‭‭

Colossians‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭

We are all in missions. Some are called to foreign lands. Some are called to the jungles of the workplace. Wherever you are called, serve the Lord in that place. Let God demonstrate His power through your life so that others might experience Him through you today. View your vocation as means to worship Him right where He has you. 

Don’t play hide n’ seek any more. 

Stand up. 

Step out. 

#MarketplaceMinistry #StandUp #StepOut

When fear comes knocking….

  

….for you are with me… Psalm 23:4

Your peace is a weapon. There are many opportunities created in this world to rob us of our peace. Your confidence in the God of peace declares that you are not falling for the lies of the devil. The first step in authority is to have peace in spite of our circumstances. When Jesus confronted the enemy, He didn’t confront him with His emotions. Knowing he was a liar, He simply refused to be influenced by any other voice than God’s. His peace overwhelmed the enemy; His authority shattered the lie and sent the enemy fleeing.

This week, that trickster tried to stake a claim. The peace of God overwhelmed and he fled. Praise You Jesus! God is always so very close. mmmm……yes, He is.

There is a place of walking with God where you simply fear no evil. David faced a lion, a bear, and a giant. In this Psalm he stood in the shadow of death itself, yet he feared no evil. Our trust in the Lord is what brings peace, not trusting in our abilities. 

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…” Psalm 23:5a

Because God is with you, every adversity you face will unfold in victory and become a meal for you, an experience that will nourish and build you up spiritually. 

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

The source of God’s peace is God Himself. If fear has been knocking at your door, begin to face that fear with God’s peace. It’s God’s secret weapon to destroy fear. 

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Why Is This Friday So Good? 

  

For so many reasons, I love having a little one in the house again. I love teaching her all about my Lord. Seeing Him come alive for her is beautiful. I love her sweet questions and her awe in Him. I love the way her eyes shine when she tells me things He is teaching her, and the way she runs to Him in prayer about anything is especially good for my heart. That’s my job….pointing her to Him. 

One question she asked is, “Why is this Friday so good when it’s a day Jesus died? We love Him so much, why do we call it good that He died?

Friends, this is why we commemorate Jesus’ death on the cross by calling it Good Friday: 

Without His death, we don’t have the Resurrection. And without His Resurrection, we don’t have a Savior. Without our Savior, we don’t have salvation

Because Jesus died and rose again, we have victory, forgiveness, mercy, grace. We have a home in eternity with Him. 

If the Resurrection didn’t happen, then nothing about Jesus is true. Since the Resurrection did happen, everything about Jesus is true. Jesus Christ is our risen Savior, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born on this earth, died on the cross for our sins, rose again, and is alive. He’s alive!

It all —all of this. Here. Now. You. Us. Our purpose. Our reasons. Our why’s, how’s and when’s. Our eternity— hangs on the death and the resurrection of the Son of God. 

What appeared at first to be a tragedy was in fact a triumph, because by His death on the cross, Jesus purchased our salvation. We are separated from God because of our sin, and because we are sinners, we have no hope of eternal life. 

You see, God is pure and Holy, and even one sin —just one— would be enough to keep us out of Heaven. But Jesus, my dear, sweet Jesus. By His death on the cross He became the perfect and final Sacrifice for our sins. And because of that, Heaven’s door is now flung wide open to all who put their faith and trust in Him. 

That’s why we can call the day on which Jesus, the Love of my life, died “Good Friday”. In fact, it was the greatest Friday in the history of the human race because on that day, Jesus won our salvation. 

At one time, the Bible says we were “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). But, now we have hope because Christ died for us. 

The nails didn’t hold Him to that cross, love did. 

Take a moment and relish in this one fact: death could not hold Him. 

They will mock Him, spit on Him, flog Him with a whip, and kill Him, but after three days He will rise again. Mark 10:34 NLT

I am the Resurrection and the Life. Anyone who believes in Me, even if he dies, will still have life ~Jesus, John 11:25

It. Is. Finished.

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So, What Is Palm Sunday?

  

It’s Palm Sunday! 

So, what is Palm Sunday anyway?




Palm Sunday is the day Christians remember and celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. Today is also referred to as “Passion Sunday,” and marks the beginning of Holy Week, which concludes on Easter Sunday.

Today, we remember that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, knowing full well that this trip would end in His sacrificial death for the sin of all humanity – that’s you and me. 

In His path, people threw their cloaks on the ground and put palm branches on the road before him. Others waved palm branches in the air. Large Passover crowds surrounded Jesus, shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9, ESV). 


WE WIN!

We remember and celebrate His triumphal entry as His beautiful triumph over sin and death. The gift of mercy and grace gifted to us by our sweet, and oh so loving Savior. WE WIN! All because of Jesus. All because of Jesus, sin lost its hold and death lost its sting. 

Hosanna means “save now”. Jesus can save you right now by becoming your Savior and Lord. Won’t you ask Him now? Don’t worry, He’ll say yes. But, you have to first accept this gift. 

There are two parts in gift giving: the giving, and the accepting. 


Jesus has already given His gift of Salvation by the giving of His life for yours, and now it’s your turn to accept His gift of Salvation. It’s free. No strings attached. No way to earn it. No way to lose it. 

Thank you Sweet, Sweet Jesus! 

Feel free to message me with any questions. 

(The Biblical account of Palm Sunday can be found in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19)IMG_2824

Being thankful in the good and the bad times (because we really don’t know which is which)

 Every difficulty that presents itself to us, if we receive it in the right way, is God’s opportunity.


“….there came a lion…” (1 Sam. 17:34.)

Through faith in God David conquered a lion and a bear, and afterwards overthrew the mighty Goliah. When that lion came to despoil that flock, it came as a wondrous opportunity to David. If he had failed or faltered he would have missed God’s opportunity for him and probably would never have come to be God’s chosen king of Israel. This was David’s training ground, and a way for GOD to receive glory in the victory.

We wouldn’t think of a lion being a special blessing. I know there have been lions in my own life that I didn’t think were a blessing at the beginning. Normally, we would only think it a cause for alarm. These “lions” are God’s blessings in disguise.

Every difficulty that presents itself to us, if we receive it in the right way, is God’s opportunity.

When the “lion” comes, recognize it as God’s opportunity no matter how rough the exterior.

I love this quote:

Remember….

just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly 

War Room: A Battle Plan

 

A storm is coming. Or you’re in a storm right now. We all know they’re a part of life. We don’t have to be told that. It’s no surprise to us. What it does is catch us off guard sometimes. We have to be ready. We have to be on guard and have a battle plan working and ready when it comes.

A boss that just wont get off our backs.

A spouse that doesn’t seem to be lined up with you at the moment.

A friend that isn’t really a friend.

A family member that seems like a stranger to you.

A competing co-worker.

Gossip.

Rage.

Hurt.

Betrayal.

A past.

A present.

Sin.

All these things and more can be a battle for us at any given time. We know this. We are warned about this in the Scriptures, so that isn’t the problem. The problem is in our battle plan.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities and the powers of the unseen dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

We forget that our battle isn’t with people and get sucked into battling each other. We argue with each other, battle our spouses and divide our own households, families, and work places. In other words, we help the devil carry out his very schemes we want to battle!

You see, there is a battle always going on in the spiritual realm. That’s where the fight is. That’s the battlefield and that’s where we need to fight. The enemy is our accuser. It’s always happening and we need a battle plan.

God is strong and He wants you strong and prepared. You’re up against more than you can handle on your own so take everything God has given you, well-made weapons of the best materials – God’s Word and prayer – and put them to use so you will be able to standup to everything the devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the devil and all his angels.

God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray first, pray often and about everything. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up that that no one falls behind or drops out.

This is an excellent Battle Plan!

I was invited to a premiere event last week for the movie War Room by the Kendrick Brothers – creators of Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants. This movie is coming out tomorrow, Friday, August 28, 2015. Priscilla Shirer stars in it and Beth Moore has a role too. These ladies are two of my favorite Bible Teachers. This movie is so inspiring. If you are a Believer, go see it. If you are alive and breathing, go see it. You’ll see the power of prayer played out on the big screen. You’ll be moved to get active and speak out boldly and loudly against the enemy’s schemes in your life. You’ll come away with a battle plan. It’s what inspired me to write this message today. It inspired me to get back to my war room battle plan. I know it will inspire you to do the same.

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#WarRoom #KendrickBrothers #PriscilaShirer #BethMoore #Prayer #Bible

Where Am I Building My Life?

 

My Dad was very talented when it came to creating things. He created everything from beautiful, fine crafted wood workings that were gifts from our government to others and celebrated in city parades, to houses, and everything in between.

He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He. (Deuteronomy 32:4)

I was so blessed to grow up on building sites and in work shops where my Dad would share his wisdom with me as he worked. One thing my Dad taught me was that wise builders know that every house must have a foundation. A foundation is usually made of concrete or stone and steel, and its purpose is to hold the house up from underneath. Wise builders also know that the foundation must be built on very solid ground or rock. If the house is built on sand, the building will fall when the sand under the foundation washes away in a storm, or when it shifts during an earthquake.

For the same reason, our lives must have a strong foundation. Storms are a part of life. We all will face our share of difficulties and disappointments. Therefore wise people build the foundation of their lives on God, whom the Bible calls the Rock:

“For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?” (2 Samuel 22:32)

[God] alone is my rock and my salvation. (Psalm 62:2)

God is like the solid rock, dependable and durable, on which wise people lay the foundations for their houses. You can always count on God and His Word–the Bible–because they always tell us what is true. Whether building houses or building their lives, wise people will follow a good plan, and there is no plan as good as the one found in God’s word:

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

christyrawls.com

Daddy!

   

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (‭Galatians‬ ‭4‬:‭6‬ NIV)

Do you know what “Abba” means? It means “Daddy Father.” Have you ever thought about God as your Daddy? When Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father” in Matthew 6:9, the same word in Greek is the word “Pater” – “Abba Father.” 

American children say, “Da-da.” But in the Middle East they say, “Abba – Abba.” Jesus says that we can call the great God of the universe “Daddy.” 

When the call came that my son got caught up in a powerful rip tide and that he was being admitted into the Intensive Care Unit in Florida, my heart and soul cried out. No, it screamed out for Daddy so hard I could feel it throughout my whole body. I just wanted my Heavenly Daddy. I wanted His loving arms surrounding us because I knew being close to Him was the best place to be. It was the only place I wanted to be. 

I’m so glad that our Heavenly Father never gets too busy running this universe and commanding the angels that He forgets us. He wants to be with you like there is no one else on earth and nothing else for Him to do.

Do you wish you had a hug right now? You can crawl up into the lap of your Daddy Father, and He has nothing better to do than to give you a hug. 

#Father #Daddy 

Chosen

  

Chosen is such a powerful word. Especially when you think about it’s opposite: rejected.  Rejection is that thing we all fear, and we’ve all experienced at one time or another.  I bet just the mention of the word “rejection” hurls you into emotion-filled flashbacks, and a flood of memories wash over you reminding you of all the times you were not chosen. 

An audition gone wrong. 
A team you never made. 
A boyfriend who hurt your heart. 
A friend that betrayed you.
A spouse that cheated on you. 
A job you didn’t get.  

If we’re not careful, we can begin to allow these moments to define us.  We begin to call ourselves REJECTED. But God calls us by name, and He calls us CHOSEN.



“BUT YOU ARE A CHOSEN PEOPLE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, GOD’S SPECIAL POSSESSION, THAT YOU MAY DECLARE THE PRAISES OF HIM WHO CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS WONDERFUL LIGHT.” 1 PETER 2:9


The enemy to our souls will try and try to tell you that you’re less than who God says you are. He will whisper false labels on you, and try to distract you from your real name: Chosen. Accepted. 

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 1 Peter 2:9 MSG. (emphasis mine)

Spend no more time there. Answer no longer to the name the enemy calls you by. 

Let me tell you a secret the enemy doesn’t want you to know: we all have a choice in this. We can choose whether we move forward from this point or whether we relive the past for the rest of our lives. 

I love the way Christine Caine said it- You could miss the rest of your life, which could be the best of your life by focusing on what was the worse of your life. 

Friend, allow me to speak some things over you. Your true identity. 

You are:

Accepted. 

Chosen

Loved. 

Wanted. 

Special. 

Included. 

Pursued. 

Loved. 

Important. 

Desired. 

Favored. 

Called. 

Preferred. 

Loved. 

Hand Picked. 

Noticed. 

Appointed. 

Selected. 

Loved. 

Remembered. 

You matter. 

You are HIS


Never again answer to any other name!

  

Why Is This Friday So Good? 

   

For so many reasons, I love having a little one in the house again. I love teaching her all about my Lord. Seeing Him come alive for her is beautiful. I love her sweet questions and her awe in Him. I love the way her eyes shine when she tells me things He is teaching her, and the way she runs to Him in prayer about anything is especially good for my heart. That’s my job….pointing her to Him. 


One question she asked is, Why is this Friday so good when it’s a day Jesus died? We love Him so much, why do we call it good that He died?

Friends, this is why we commemorate Jesus’ death on the cross by calling it Good Friday: 

Without His death, we don’t have the Resurrection. And without His Resurrection, we don’t have a Savior. Without our Savior, we don’t have salvation


Because Jesus died and rose again, we have victory, forgiveness, mercy, grace. We have a home in eternity with Him. 

If the Resurrection didn’t happen, then nothing about Jesus is true. Since the Resurrection did happen, everything about Jesus is true. Jesus Christ is our risen Savior, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born on this earth, died on the cross for our sins, rose again, and is alive. He’s alive!

It all —all of this. Here. Now. You. Us. Our purpose. Our reasons. Our why’s, how’s and when’s. Our eternity— hangs on the death and the resurrection of the Son of God. 

What appeared at first to be a tragedy was in fact a triumph, because by His death on the cross, Jesus purchased our salvation. We are separated from God because of our sin, and because we are sinners, we have no hope of eternal life. 

You see, God is pure and Holy, and even one sin —just one— would be enough to keep us out of Heaven. But Jesus, my dear, sweet Jesus. By His death on the cross He became the perfect and final Sacrifice for our sins. And because of that, Heaven’s door is now flung wide open to all who put their faith and trust in Him. 

That’s why we can call the day on which Jesus, the Love of my life, died “Good Friday”. In fact, it was the greatest Friday in the history of the human race because on that day, Jesus won our salvation. 

At one time, the Bible says we were “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). But, now we have hope because Christ died for us. 

The nails didn’t hold Him to that cross, love did. 

Take a moment and relish in this one fact: death could not hold Him. 

They will mock Him, spit on Him, flog Him with a whip, and kill Him, but after three 
days He will rise again. Mark 10:34 NLT


It. Is. Finished.





 



#GoodFriday #Easter #Jesus #Salvation #Resurrection #ItIsFinished

What Is Palm Sunday? 


Image source: Guideposts

It’s Palm Sunday! 

So, what is Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday is the day Christians remember and celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. Today is also referred to as “Passion Sunday,” and marks the beginning of Holy Week, which concludes on Easter Sunday.

Today, we remember that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, knowing full well that this trip would end in His sacrificial death for the sin of all humanity – that’s you and me. 

In His path, people threw their cloaks on the ground and put palm branches on the road before him. Others waved palm branches in the air. Large Passover crowds surrounded Jesus, shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9, ESV). 

WE WIN!

We remember and celebrate His triumphal entry as His beautiful triumph over sin and death. The gift of mercy and grace gifted to us by our sweet, and oh so loving Savior. WE WIN! All because of Jesus. All because of Jesus, sin lost its hold and death lost its sting. 

Hosanna means “save now”. Jesus can save you right now by becoming your Savior and Lord. Won’t you ask Him now? Don’t worry, He’ll say yes. But, you have to first accept this gift. 

There are two parts in gift giving: the giving, and the accepting.

Jesus has already given His gift of Salvation by the giving of His life for yours, and now it’s your turn to accept His gift of Salvation. It’s free. No strings attached. No way to earn it. No way to lose it. 

Thank you Sweet, Sweet Jesus! 

Feel free to message me with any questions. 

(The Biblical account of Palm Sunday can be found in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19)

  

Growing Into It

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So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.” -1 Samuel 16:13

We were sitting down at a very nice restaurant and had just ordered when my young daughter grew impatient, asking when her food was going to arrive. She couldn’t understand why her food wasn’t coming immediately after ordering at this restaurant as it does at fast food drive-thru windows.

We live in a very microwave culture. If we want something, we want it right now! But, even though we can go through a drive-thru to get fast food immediately, this microwave mentality often doesn’t apply to our calling and life with God.

We tend to think of David in the Bible as the great shepherd king, the worshipper after God’s own heart. But I wonder when we think of him, if we truly consider all the processing David endured after he was anointed to be king? Yes he won the fight against Goliath; but after he was anointed, he went back to tending sheep! He spent many years running from Saul. It was only after he was tested and he did not kill his enemy Saul that God allowed David to be king. This was years after Samuel had anointed the little shepherd boy in the field before his brothers. Years.

Often we can be impatient with God’s processing. We may want God’s promises – all right now! But God has His reasons for timing that may not make sense to us in the moment. We may not be ready. We may not be able to handle what He wants to give us until He puts us in a place of character building. We have to learn to trust God when we have yet to see the manifestation of the dream that’s on our hearts. This is how God knows we can be trusted with it. This is how we grow to be able to have the capacity to carry God-sized dreams. We grow through experience. This is how character is built.

The journey there brings the growth we need to rightfully handle the “thing” we’re dreaming about now.

Are you letting God grow you through experience? Even if you feel the place you are at right now is not your ultimate destination, decide to treat it with respect. It will provide the training ground we’ll need to be able to withstand God’s promises in our lives and our ultimate calling. Bloom where you’re planted.

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For Lent, I’m Giving Up

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“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God.” –Ephesians 2:8

It’s a good time of the year for fresh starts and new beginnings. Something Louie Giglio once said reminds me how to do that, “For Lent, I’m giving up.”

At first glance, we think there’s something missing from his sentence. But, no, “period” is exactly what should come next.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. The beginning of the Lent Season. Let’s remember that it’s all about Jesus and what He did for us – not about what WE can do, give up, commit to, or accomplish. Nothing to prove.

Lent is a heart issue. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” it was and still is. Knowing the pressure is non-existent helps me prepare for the Easter season. The incredible thing is, knowing I don’t have to measure up actually makes me want to work harder in all areas of my life. He deserves the very best me, and I gladly give up. I give up all of me. Nothing hidden. Nothing to prove. Fully surrendered. Nothing held back. No part of my life held back from Him. Whatever He asks, my answer is YES.

Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It’s a gift from God from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make or save ourselves. God does both the making and the saving (Ephesians 2:8, The Message)

For some of us, part of our heart prep might be physical – as part of our obedience and humble stewardship. How will keeping your eyes outward and upward to Jesus make your commitments to healthier choices different, change the goals you set or how you prepare and execute them?

Prayer:

Lord, for Your glory and our growth, we don’t want an ordinary Lent season. I pray our hunger, thirst, assurance, and longing is intensified greatly! Saturate us with Your Gospel. It’s all about You, Jesus. It’s all about what You’ve done for us…..and continue to do in and through us…..not about what we’ll promise to do for You. Thank You! We look forward to Your return! In Jesus name. Amen.

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Forever, Valentine

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And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. – Ephesians 3:17-18

A child asked Jesus how much He loved her. He answered, “This much,” and then He stretched out His arms and died on the cross.

You may have heard this before. It’s a good way to think about how much Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He left heaven and came to earth for you. He loves you so much that He suffered and died for you. And the Bible says that nothing you can do will separate you from the love of Jesus.

In these verses from Ephesians, Paul describes Jesus’ love as being “wide and long and high and deep.” The idea is that it is infinite — you will never come to the end of it. God loved you before He created you. He loves you right this minute. And He will love you for eternity.

We cannot possibly understand how much Jesus loves us. We don’t have to. All we have to do is accept it.

Every time I think about how much God loves me, He says – NOPE! More than that, my love! We can’t ever grasp it. It just goes on and on and on. It covers our past. It covers our now. It covers the future. It’s always more than enough. His Love never leaves. Never grows old. Never gives up. Never lets go. Is never selfish. His Love is always, ALWAYS patient, kind, and sweet.

He’s a year-round Valentine that we celebrate all year and not just one day. He is in passionate pursuit of a deeper relationship with us all of our lives.

To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances.

To seek Him, the greatest adventure.

To find Him, the greatest human achievement. Raphael Simon.

Jesus wants you to be His Valentine now and forever.

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A Person

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Brick by brick, the tower grew higher and higher. And so did their pride. They wanted to be famous, and safe. They wanted to be “the ones” to do this thing with their own hands. They were quite pleased with themselves. “The ones”.

“Look at this mega church I built”. “Look at this ministry I built”. “The bigger, the better because people will see me and how close I am to Jesus”.

Sound familiar?

Yeah….

You see, God wasn’t pleased with them. He could see what they were doing. They were trying to live life without Him. That doesn’t make us happy, or safe, or ANYTHING.

Living life like that only destroys us. God loves us too much to let that happen. So, He’ll interfere. He’ll stop things. Plans get halted. We get annoyed, but we need to just see that God is saving us from ourselves.

God knows.

God knows that however high we reach, however hard we try, we can never get back to Heaven by ourselves. We are not saved by our works (Ephesians 2:8-10)

We don’t need a staircase; we need a Rescuer. The way back to Heaven isn’t a staircase, it’s a Person.

We can never reach up to Heaven, so Heaven came down to us Jesus.

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

It’s all about Jesus.

Today’s thought: I cannot save myself, this situation, or this person. I need Jesus.

See: Genesis 11

Have you mixed up your salt and sugar?

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Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4: 5-6

Imagine you are getting out the ingredients to bake a batch of cookies, but you have unknowingly mixed up the salt and the sugar. You end up putting in a dash of sugar and a cup of salt.

Now, picture a little child taking a big bite of one of those cookies. How long will it take the child to realize something is wrong? Do you think he or she will ask for another cookie? Of course not!

The art of seasoning is a matter of balance. Just enough salt to notice, but not too much salt to overwhelm. Salt creates a thirst, a desire for more. As Christians, we sprinkle the salt of God’s grace and gospel into our daily conversations. We don’t saturate every conversations in a way that drives others away. The artful seasoning of God’s loving grace into our conversations will create a thirst and a desire in the lives of others. They will long to know more of Jesus. This is how you “make the most of every opportunity.”

God With Us

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Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son and they shall call Him Emmanuel — which, when translated, means, God with us (Matthew 1:23)

It’s totally possible to have someone sitting right next to you everyday and never really know them. It’s shamefully easy to do.

It’s that way with God, too. God is with us. He’s right here, whether or not we acknowledge that or not. The difference is whether or not you’ll see Him , or miss Him altogether.

Draw near to God (James 4:8)

We have to take time to acknowledge God as Lord. We have to take time to talk to Him. When we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.

There’s no feeling like the feeling of snuggling up close to our earthly Daddy. It just fills you up and puts you in a delicious place in your heart to be that close. It’s the same way with our Heavenly Daddy. Snuggle up close and stay there.

Listen, God is here. He is. He’s closer than the air we breathe. He’s all around you.

Today is Christmas Eve. It’s the day before we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. It’s the day before the party. My little girl told someone yesterday that she was so excited for Jesus’ party.

Take some time to snuggle up close, pray and set your heart on Him. Praise Him. Thank Him. He came for you.

Take a look around and you’ll see Him.

Prayer:
God, it’s so easy for us to get distracted this time of year and miss seeing You. Thank You for being so close. I see you. I hand over everything – the distractions of thinking this is all about me. I give you my heart this season to bring You glory in everything that I do and say – to praise You and thank You for who You are and for the way You love me so deeply, so passionately, so well. In Jesus name. Amen.

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Worship and Work

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One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike” (Rom 14:5)

Avodah (Ah´-voe-dah) is a Hebrew noun used in the Bible that has two distinct yet intertwined meanings: worship and work. It is also derived from the Hebrew verb L’Avod which has two meanings; to work and also to worship. The dual meaning offers powerful wisdom for modern times for how we are to view our work lives.

Work, if done with integrity and unto God, is a form of worship in the biblical Hebrew context. There has never been a concept of segmenting our work from our faith life in the Bible.

It is in the realm of the sacred to bring God into our everyday life.

Hebrews did not set aside a “day of worship,” such as Saturday or Sunday, but everyday is a place and time of worship. They did set aside a Sabbath day of rest.

It is a western idea to segment one’s faith life from our work life

In the Middle East and Asia, their cultures would never separate their faith from their work life even though their faith foundations might clearly contradict Christian beliefs. When someone comes to faith in Christ from this area of the world, they have an easier time of assimilating their faith into their work because they have always done so.

God calls us to do our work as an act of worship to Him

Our work is not only to be a place of hard work, sweat and toil, but an expression of our love, faith and adoration of Jesus Christ.

Today, before you work, ask God to help you see your work in a new way–as worship to Him.

#MarketplaceMinistry

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Be a Trailblazer

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All of our actions begin in the imagination. We think it, and then act on those thoughts.

I was recently working on a project that I haven’t worked on in quite some time. I found myself amazed at the things culture has brought into play since my last time being involved. Quite a few times I found myself stepping back, shaking my head and wondering why no one else was seeing it for what it is: attacks from the enemy.

There’s a war on for our minds. Our thoughts. The enemy wants to convince us and change our minds about what we believe because he knows that once our minds are changed, our actions will follow.

God has equipped us with the tools to take our thoughts captive. If it doesn’t line up with scripture – can it. Throw it out with the rest of the junk this culture tries to feed us.

The world will try to tell you that you’re less than who Christ says you are. It wants to beat you down and make you change your mind so that you can then change someone else’s mind about what or Who you believe.

Casting down imaginations (carnal reasonings of the mind) and every high minded opinion raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture.

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity. (2 Corinthians 10 MSG)

Our Master is Christ. He’s alive in us and speaks today as He always has to His followers. Our tool is the Bible. Hold every opinion against the Light of Scripture. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean we should be doing it.

In fact, observe the masses and go the other direction. Do the opposite. Don’t be afraid to be different. You just might be the spark that your world of influence needs to fan a flame.

Together as Christians we walk along this uncommon road with the hope that those we walk past while moving upstream may see something beyond an oddity and turn their lives to join us in our progression of faith towards eternal glory.

Don’t go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Go out there and do something remarkable. Guard your mind and be the change you want to see. Someone around you is waiting for you to find the courage.

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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow {Study of Esther Chapter 1}

Esther

 

Click on over and read: Esther Chapter 1

There was some major partying going on here. And a lot of pride and showing off of the goods by the King. Queen Vashti was throwing a separate shindig for the girls because, according to the Oriental fashion, the sexes do not intermingle in society, the court ladies were entertained in a separate apartment by the queen.

As the feast days advanced, the drinking was more freely indulged in, so that the close was usually marked by great excesses of revelry. The King sent for Queen Vashti. It’s a popular belief that he wanted her to appear wearing ONLY her crown.

The refusal of Vashti to obey an order which required her to make an indecent exposure of herself before a company of drunken revelers was unbecoming of both the modesty of her sex and her rank as queen; for, according to Persian customs, the queen, even more than the wives of other men, was secluded from the public gaze. Had not the king’s blood been heated with wine, or his reason overpowered by force of offended pride, he would have perceived that his own honor, as well as hers, was consulted by her dignified conduct. King Xerxes made a rash, half-drunk decision, based purely on feelings. His self-restraint and practical wisdom were weakened by too much wine. The issuance of that decree to the entire empire is ironic because it ensured that everyone in the empire would know about the King’s marital struggles, and not just the “noble women” (Vs. 18).

King Xerxes’ hurt pride turned to anger. Anger often blinds us from doing what is right and causes us to become vindictive. 

Poor decisions are made when people don’t think clearly. Our decisions and actions can cause irrevocable damage, too. We should base our decisions on careful thinking, not on the emotions of the moment. Impulsive decision-making can lead to severe complications.

Obviously, a law cannot possibly cause women to respect their husbands. Respect between a man and a woman is a matter of the heart – from mutual regard and appreciation of each other as people being made in God’s image, not from legal pronouncements and orders. Forced obedience is a poor substitute for the love and respect that wives and husbands should have for one another. For the same reason, instead of forcing us, God gives us free will to CHOOSE to love and follow Him. Beautiful.

We are all “Kings” and “Queens” of our homes too, and our little “empire” is watching us. As a wife, I need to be mindful of how I respond to my husband whether he’s right or wrong because our little “kingdom” is widely affected by my actions, too.

They look to us as an example. We do influence those around us – especially our family. I need to be prayerful and mindful of any pride rising up in me in how I treat my husband and in all of my relationships. Do I respect him? How do I respond to him? Will I contribute to the rise of my household, or to the fall of my household – here today, gone tomorrow? Because a house divided will not stand and pride crushes. Pride absolutely does come before a fall.

Prayer: God, I want to see You. I want to hear You. I want to know You and follow hard after You and the person You intended me to be when You created me. Before I even know all that entales, I say yes to You. Help me be the wife and influencer You have in Your heart for me to be. I want to be a woman after Your own heart. I want to be the person You would be if You were in my place or in my shoes. I accept it. I recieve it. I cherish it. May I live each day expecting to experience You. In Jesus name. Amen.

Since You are God’s idea, you are a GOOD idea

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God planned and packed you on purpose for His purpose. Heaven’s custom design.

At a moment before moments existed, the sovereign Star Maker resolved, “I will make _____________.” Your name goes in the blank.

Then He continued with, “And I will make him/her _________, _________ and _________ and ____________ and __________.”

Fill those blanks with your characteristics. Insightful. Clever. Detail oriented. Restless.

And since you are God’s idea, you are a GOOD idea.

What God said about Jeremiah, He said about you:

“Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.”(Jeremiah 1:5)

Set apart for a special work — Cure for the Common Life

How have your unique characteristics prepared you to do a special work for God?

From Thomas Nelson’s Grace for the Moment: Morning and Evening Devotional [2008] [Max Lucado] Learn more here

#maxlucado #graceforthemoment #grace

With God on our side like this, how can we lose?

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So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

(Romans 8:37 MSG)

Whatever you’re going through – whatever you’re facing today – embrace this written for you. You are dearly, dearly loved. Dearly wanted. God sees you. He’s here. He can’t forget someone He died for:

If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

So look that problem in the eye and say: My God is bigger than you. No thanks!

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You Are The Blessing

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The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that The Lord was with him and that The Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of The Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So he left everything he had in Joesph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. (Genesis 39:2-5)

God was with Joseph and things went very well with him. He ended up living in the home of his Egyptian master. His master recognized that God was with him, saw that God was working for good in everything he did. He became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide. He put him in charge of all of his personal affairs, turning everything over to him. From that moment on, God blessed the home of the Egyptian — all because of Joseph. The blessing of God spread over everything he owned, at home and in the fields, and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day. 

It’s not where you are – it’s YOU that God is blessing. God has favor on YOU.

Being in the favor of God means you’ll be blessed no matter where you are. You walk in a room you are the blessing of that room. 

There is no weak economy in Heaven. There are no droughts in heaven. There are no emergency meetings in heaven. 

In Genesis 13 we see Abram and Lot, uncle and nephew, separate. Lot chose the lush lands of the east. Abram chose the desert and prospered there.

In God’s economy, there IS prosperity in the desert.

When you walk into that job, that home, that position – it’s you that has the blessing and the favor and you bring it with you.
 
God is working through our obedience in Spiritual gifts and professional skills. And, as Joseph’s life reminds us, His purposes stretch from countryside pastures to household financial services firms, from prison administration, to the halls of political power. 

May he find us faithful where we are. Everywhere we are. 

You are the light of world. You carry the light with you. What happens when you walk into a room and flip the light on? Light always wins. No fear. 

Allow God to be the Author of your hopes and dreams —your definition of success. 

Like a drop in the water, your blessings ripple out to those around you. He will bless your work and it will bless your employer, colleagues, clients, customers, vendors, your town. He will bless you and it will bless your family, your friends, your church, your marriage. 

Think you’ve gone too far, or made too many wrong turns? 

God uses broken things. He uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to produce rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever. 

We can all learn a lesson from Peter: In Matthew 14:22-33 Peter walked on water, but as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus and onto his surroundings, he began to sink. Don’t look at your surroundings no matter how crazy they seem. Keep your eyes on the Master. He’s the source of power. He’s your confidence.

And, remember this. Don’t forget it: the credit is all His. Take less credit and more confidence in Him. It’s not who you are, it’s Whose you are. 

Prayer:
Lord, thank You for blessing us. Thank You for reminding us that your blessings go with us wherever we are and that our calling doesn’t stop at the church building. You bless us and use us wherever we are in all that we do at home and at work…..and those blessings bless others. Thank You for Your favor. May we be mindful and faithful in all we do. As we go about this next week and all the days following, may we remember to live second. May we remember why we’re here. For Your honor. For Your glory. In Jesus name. Amen.

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Resting in His Finished Work

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In Psalm 23:2 when David says, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures”—he’s saying, “My shepherd makes me lie down in His finished work.” With His own pierced hands, Jesus created a pasture for the soul. Can you imagine the satisfaction in the heart of the shepherd when, with work completed, he sees his sheep rest in the tender grass? Can you imagine the satisfaction in the heart of God when we do the same?

His pasture is His gift to us. This is not a pasture you have made. Nor is it one you deserve. It is a gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Your Shepherd invites you to nestle deeply hidden, buried, in the tall shoots of His love—and there you will find rest.

From Traveling Light, Max Lucado

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Just drop it already…..

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I knew I was carrying too much. Trying to save a few steps, I loaded my arms up with too much – and the crash to the ground confirmed it. 

In life, too, we carry too much – things not meant for us to carry – taking on things too heavy for us – holding on to things we need to let go of.

It holds us back, holds us down and keeps us from soaring new heights with God. 

God wants to take us where we’ve never been before, and in ways we’ve never dreamed of.

But, we have to drop some things: guilt, shame, worry, stress from things we should have handed over long ago, lack of trust that God can and that He knows what He’s doing. Carrying it around keeps us from freely comforting others, sharing in their burdens, and serving Him fully. 

And besides…

How can we lift someone else’s load if our arms are full of our own?

And, what about our loved ones – our first mission field? How do those things affect our love and care for them? 

Enough.
 

Hand them over.

For your family and friends, hand them over.

For God, hand them over.

For you, hand them over. 

Hand them over and trust Him. These are things you were never meant to carry. 

God is looking out for you, so hand it all over. Let it go. He’ll carry your load. He is more than able. Live carefree before God and soar! See: Psalm 55:2, 1Peter 5:7. 

Go on…have a little talk with Jesus and just drop it already…

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