I’m Not Ready!

Today God is first….

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“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'” 2 Cor 12:9

If there is one thing that is consistent throughout scripture, it is this: God calls people when they are not ready. God will never call you into service when you think you are ready. This is intentional on God’s part.

And, you can be sure when God calls you, you will have similar responses as Saul did when he was called to be the first king, or Gideon, when he was called to take down the idols in his nation, or Moses, when he was called to deliver his people from Egypt.

Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” (1 Sam 9:21).

“But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judg 6:15).

But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Ex 3:11).

When God calls, you will most likely be in the most unlikely circumstances to receive that call. You will be in the midst of a crisis, you will lack resources, you will not have the skills you think you need. This too is the way of God.

God does this because He wants you to know your call is only based on His ability, not yours. When you think it is based on you, this is a false humility. And, it is unbelief and disobedience on your part.

Has God called you to something you have failed to do because you felt you were not ready? Repent before the Lord and let God accomplish great things through you.

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Work and Worship

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Today God Is First

“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 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 like. 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 to be a place of 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.

A Boss or a Leader {Which one are you?}

Leaders remember: you’ve got to live it to lead it

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Just a short post today as I ponder leadership.

There is a difference between a boss and a leader…
Anyone can be bossy, but not everyone can be a leader

Leaders lead~~Bossy people are just bossy.

Leaders inspire, build up, and encourage~~Bossy people blame and tear down.

Leaders want others to succeed~~Bossy people walk in fear and jealousy.

Leaders see clearly that there is no “I” in team~~Bossy people see no “I” in team.

Leaders thrive on giving~~Bossy people snatch, take false credit, and think everyone is out to get them.

Leaders speak well of your accomplishments to others~~Bossy people belittle you and gossip.

Leaders make much of Jesus~~Bossy people need to be upfront and center with the spotlight on them.

When a leader sees someone younger in the faith making a mistake, they come alongside, teach in love, and keep it between them ~~~Bossy people see someone make a mistake, call it out and tell others about it. (whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9)

Leaders do this:

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV)

Go. Inspire someone today. Encourage. Equip. Empower others to the attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ

Leaders: Remember, you’ve got to live it to lead it. A boss says “Go!” A leader says “Let’s Go!”

Life On The Edge

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Around 1406 B.C. God brought His people to the edge of the land He had promised to their ancestors, and Moses handed leadership of the nation over to Joshua. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, finally the people of God were ready to realize the promise of living in the land of Canaan. All they needed to do is to obey and trust Him in order to take possession of the land. In other words, trust Daddy and do what He says. 

What is your edge? God spoke something to you a while ago. For some, a long while ago. Is It to begin teaching a Sunday School class? A small group? Or maybe it’s a big step in changing a lot of things in your life. Maybe it’s a little step. Maybe it’s to finally begin leading your family in the Way they should go. Is it to say yes to that mission trip? What promise is God calling you to realize in your life? 

Some of you are right there on the edge. It’s time. You can see it. You can feel it. The only thing standing in the way is you putting your trust in Daddy God and obeying what He tells you to do. 

It’s time for you to take that step. Take possession of that promise. Don’t worry, if God brings you to it, He WILL bring you through it.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study the Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all that you do. This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9

See: Joshua 1-6

I Am Second: The Movement

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What a beautiful picture of freedom in Genesis 2:25:

Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame….

Absolutely nothing hidden. Honesty with themselves, each other and best of all with God. What a pure, beautiful way to live. So inspiring!

There’s only one way to get that kind of life and that’s by living second. We live in a culture that all about being first at whatever the cost. Where lives are lived in secret and where money and me, me, me is what counts. It’s exhausting. There is no joy.

I am on the launch team for the I Am Second Organization. We launched  a new and improved book this week. It’s updated with even more content and inspiring stories about God making extraordinary differences in ordinary people like you and me. Real stories. Real people. Changing lives. 

I know the people in this book. I know them because I saw a little piece of me in nearly every story. Maybe you’ll see a little of yourself in the pages too.

No matter what walk of life we come from, we all experience pain. Some caused by others and some caused by us. One thing for sure….no matter the cause of the pain, the one and only freeing way to live is second.Living second is living surrendered to God. Fully. Him first and upfront, center stage and having His way with you in every area of your life. No secrets. No holding back.This book is full of evidence of the powerful hand of God that moves freely and victoriously once He is given the freedom to. These ordinary people surrendered their lives and allowed God to use the platform they’ve been given. He blessed them for it. And, He’ll do the same through you and me.

The words “change me” are the two mos

t powerful words a Christ follower can say. Once said, God began doing a work on all of the heart ache, pain, punishment, prostitution, hate, drugs, pride, pornography, alcohol, bitterness, shame, and loneliness and more. God is a God who can do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). We see this truth in this book. This book is about victory.

The stories in this book will warm your heart, draw you closer to your Savior, and inspire you. Get.This.Book.

Do you know someone that needs encouragement? Someone that needs a Savior? Someone screaming out for help in the wrong direction? Someone you want to reach with the Gospel? Get.This.Book.An

d.Gift.It.To.Them.Now.

A person on our team shared this verse and I agree that it does a great job at summing up what this book is all about and what the people in this book are doing:

Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me. Psalms 66:16-20

This isn’t just a book. It’s a movement. 

Here’s the link to purchase the book on Amazon: I Am Second

A few quotes from the book:

The Scruggs Q3Michael W Smith Q2

Michelle Aguilar Q1

Annie Lobert Q1

Chris Plekenpol Q1

Lecrae Q2

Brian Welch Q2Karen Green Q1

*I do not profit in any way from this book. I get no money whatsoever from the sales. We here at E3 are about Encouraging, Equipping, and Empowering others. This book is a holy hallelujah touch down in accomplishing this and so we pass it on to you. We are honored and blessed to be a small part of the team*

Creation: A Love Story

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The book of Genesis begins with “God created the heavens and the earth” The world—and you—are not products of blind chance and probability; God created it and us. They are here. We are here. God created all that we see and experience. Here we begin the most exciting and fulfilling journey imaginable.

God did not NEED to create the universe. He CHOSE to create it. Why? Love. God is love and love is best expressed toward something or someone else. So, God created the world and people as an expression of His love.

We can know in a very personal way this God who created the universe. God’s deepest desire is to relate to you. To have fellowship with you, His creation. He took the ultimate first step in this relationship with us through His visit to this planet in the person of His Son, Jesus. Now, it’s your turn. It’s your move.

How do you grow closer to understanding and hearing from God? By giving heed to His gentle checks, His delicate restraints and constraints. His voice is still and small and must be felt.

God is love and His voice is for the ear of love. And, your love should be intent on hearing even the smallest of whispers.

You know…those times in conversation when you’re just about to say a word, and you feel that gentle nudge. And, those moments when you’re about to pursue something that seems clear and right and there comes a quiet suggestion that another way is better.

It’s a voice quietly spoken in your heart at first but the more you listen and obey, it grows louder and clearer.

If you want to know Him better take heed to His voice even when is seems contradictory from a human standpoint. Obey even when He asks you to move in the dark. When you do, you will experience a fellowship with God that is wildly overpowering, wonderfully overwhelming, and more than you could ever imagine. A relationship that will hold you and He closely together even in the most severe testings and pressures.

 

Remember: You are part of creation, and He is pleased with how He made you. If at times you feel worthless, remember that God made you for a good reason. You.Are.Valuable.To.Him.

 

See: Genesis 1: 1- 2:3; Isaiah 30:21; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 3:20

 

Public Relations 101: the spiritual battle

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As we look at Luke 20:1-8, we see Jesus rocking it out at public relations as He always did. It’s Passion week at this point. Jesus has already made His triumphal entry at the end of Chapter 19. The air is thick with praise. The universe seemed ready to burst any minute with praise and worship over King Jesus.

Ever felt that way in worship? Like you’re just going to explode right on the spot with worship and you’ve just got to get it out? Jesus said if the people stopped their worship, the very stones would cry out! He is worthy and He will be praised, but, a rock isn’t going to have to take my place at worship. I love Him, and my praise will be done by me, amen and thank you very much. Lord Jesus, may I never miss and opportunity to tell You just how beautiful You are…

As He approached and saw the city of Jerusalem, He wept for her. I know something of the deep sadness that comes over you when you see someone who just can’t see what’s there as they reject what GOD has for their life; choosing a destructive way of life instead. Heartbreaking. I want everyone to know my Jesus and how it feels to be close to Him. It’s breathtaking.

Jesus went right to work. He was there for a reason, and He stayed on the planned path. First things first. He cleaned house. Ever felt like that? I know I have come home and seen a hot mess going on and had enough and I “cleaned house” like a banche….saying, I.have.had.enough.of.this. This party is o v e r. Jesus went into the temple and saw these people desecrating it by using it to make a profit. He threw them out! He is not playing around with this glory stuff. It’s Daddy’s house, and His glory. Done and done.

Lord, I pray there has never been (and never will be) a time that I have perverted your call on my life by profiting from it. I never want to be thrown out from Your presence. There are so many ways to do that. Ever seen GOD do something powerful and took the credit? Ever wanted to make a name for yourself, all in the name of working for The Lord? Ever tried to manipulate things so that someone sees you do what you did for The Lord and His people? And get mad when you think someone is doing a better job than you, or getting more attention than you…..all in the name of “serving The Lord”? Ever tried to manipulate a situation to make your life easier….on that committee?

Ever been led by fear that someone is trying to take your place and begin trying to discredit them?

That’s what the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders (a.k.a. the Sanhedrin) were trying to do. Jesus caught them sleeping on the job by allowing those things to take place in the temple. They were embarrassed and angry. They wanted to destroy Him. So, they did what any good committee would do: they marched themselves in and disrupted things. They made a scene. You know they were puffed up thinking they had Him right where they wanted Him because of the way they busted right in on that crowd and questioned His authority to throw the merchants out of the temple. They didn’t really care about the answer, they just wanted to arrogantly debate. Ever known someone like that…..who doesn’t really care one way or the other, they just want to fight?

As He often did, Jesus turned the attention back on them. Finding themselves in a no-win situation, they said they didn’t know the answer. Having caught His opponents in a trap made by their own hands, Jesus also refused to answer their question. What a genius!

What is our response to criticism and opposition? Do we anticipate it as the Bible says we should? Do we act as Jesus did? He remained calm and always addressed what was at the heart of the opposition instead of the behavior itself. He remained on the task of completing the mission here on earth.

When we are truly following Jesus, people will question our motives, attack our character, and ridicule the authority we have been given by GOD to serve Him and change lives here on earth. We need to do what Jesus did. We need to mimic Him through our patience, professing the Word of GOD, and stay committed to the task GOD gave us. We don’t need to get caught up and distracted by the emotions. I mean, that’s the real plan anyway….to get us distracted from what GOD has for us. It’s all a spiritual battle. All of it.


Let’s all just stay on task. Let’s live, lead, and love like Jesus, ok?

The Need To Impress

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Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in The Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29.25

The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in GOD protects you from that.

Fear. Fear. Fear. The opposite of peace.

Fear can torment, dilute your impact, and snatch your ministry.

Instead, Focus on Pleasing GOD and the fear of others’ judgement will disappear. Attempting to impress others will stop. It’s trap! We aren’t performing here. This isn’t a competition. This is real life. A real eternity is at stake.

Focus your attention on sweet Jesus. You can trust Him. Take the energy you’ve been using to impress others and pour it into trusting Him…..the One that will never leave you, or forsake you.. This is how we stay connected to Him and are made keenly aware of His presence. Begin today in baby steps to take GOD at His word and before you know it those giant leaps of faith will come in victory. And, that fear of others’ opinions will be no more.

If you’ve noticed your impact and ministry being diluted, begin now to let your faith be bigger than your fear.

#1 Productivity Killer

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Spending time alone with God can be a difficult discipline, because it goes against the activity addiction of this age. But it’s the most productive thing you could ever do.

I am rarely doing two things at once. I’m usually multitasking 4-7 (or more) things at a time whether anyone knows it or not. I can tick more boxes off in a morning than some people do in a day. Some days there is so much activity going on in so many different directions that I’m sure it’s going to create a vortex that will devour the universe as we know it. Just suck it right in.

Activity. We are addicted to it. There’s lots to get done. And it all needed to get done 10 minutes ago.

Never before in the history of mankind have we had more access to scripture but less time to absorb it. You can’t microwave spiritual transformation.

My most productive days are the ones that started out sitting on God’s knee, or rocking on His Heavenly front porch and immersing myself in Him. Our time talking to and listening (don’t forget about the listening part!) to God, and reading God’s Word is about encountering God–Not ticking off another box.

 

My most unproductive days are the ones that I rush through time with Him. It’s the #1 killer. Bar none. Quietness and trust accomplish far more than we can imagine: not only in us, but also in earth and in heaven.

Whether or not we choose to acknowledge it, there’s a war going on. You may feel like you’re doing nothing, but time alone with God allows you to use heavenly weapons which have divine power to demolish strongholds and break every chain. Every. One. Did you get that? Go back and read that again. Living close to God is a sure-fire defense. And, He’s already won the battle. Let’s stay on the winning side.

If your life feels like chaos, pull up a chair….or better yet, sit on Daddy’s knee a while….

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

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” Isaiah 30:15

GOD in Everything

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He is the God: let him do whatever He thinks best. – 1 Sam 3:18

See God in everything, and God will calm and color all that you see. It may be that the circumstances of our sorrows will not be removed, their condition will remain unchanged, things aren’t going as planned, things happening that we don’t remember signing up for; but if Christ, as Lord and Master of our life, is brought into it, ”HE will surround me with songs of deliverance.“ To see HIM, and to be sure that His wisdom cannot err, His power cannot fail, His love can never change; to know that even His direst dealings with us are for our deepest spiritual gain, is to be able to say, in the midst of bereavement, sorrow, pain, and loss, ”The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” He is God: Let Him do whatever He thinks is best

Do you acknowledge that God is everything but struggle to see God’s hand in everything that is happening right now, in your daily life?

Charles Finney said, ” A state of mind that sees God in everything is evidence of growth in grace and a thankful heart.”

Nothing else but seeing God in everything will make us loving and patient with those who [and those things that] annoy and trouble us. They will be to us then only instruments for accomplishing His tender and wise purposes toward us, and we shall even find ourselves at last inwardly thanking them for the blessings they bring us. Nothing else will completely put an end to all murmuring or rebelling thoughts.—H. W. Smith.

“Give me a new idea,” I said,
While musing on a sleepless bed;
“A new idea that’ll bring to earth
A balm for souls of priceless worth;
That’ll give men thoughts of things above,

And teach them how to serve and love,
That’ll banish every selfish thought,
And rid men of the sins they’ve fought.”

The new thought came, just how, I’ll tell:
’Twas when on bended knee I fell,
And sought from HIM who knows full well
The way our sorrow to expel.
SEE GOD IN ALL THINGS, great and small,
And give HIM praise whate’er befall,
In life or death, in pain or woe,
See God, and overcome thy foe.

I saw HIM in the morning light,
HE made the day shine clear and bright;
I saw HIM in the noontide hour,
And gained from HIM refreshing shower.
At eventide, when worn and sad,
HE gave me help, and made me glad.
At midnight, when on tossing bed
My weary soul to sleep HE led.

I saw HIM when great losses came,
And found HE loved me just the same.
When heavy loads I had to bear,
I found HE lightened every care.
By sickness, sorrow, sore distress,
HE calmed my mind and gave me rest.
HE’S filled my heart with gladsome praise
Since I gave HIM the upward gaze.

’Twas new to me, yet old to some,
This thought that to me has become
A revelation of the way
We all should live throughout the day;
For as each day unfolds its light,
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.
Life will, indeed, a blessing bring,
If we SEE GOD IN EVERYTHING.”
—A. E. Finn

He is God: Let Him do whatever He thinks is best

The Game of Life: Follow the Leader

 

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As we headed through the hall, she wanted to lead. She didn’t know where I was going, but she felt she knew and wanted to lead anyway. For a little while she was going where I was headed but as soon as we were at a crossroad, she went the wrong way.

Aren’t we all like that with God? We walk with Him a while, and then we think we know what’s best and begin to take over the lead. That inevitable moment comes when it is obvious we were wrong. Ouch.

We all want God on our side. God wants to be. He wants a growing, thriving, active relationship with us. We don’t have to struggle and beg for it. He wanted to be with us so badly that He sent His Son to die to make that happen. We definitely don’t have to wonder if God is for us. He’s made that obvious.

WWJD

We can learn a lot from Jesus’ life. He lived intentionally. Remember WWJD? We can lean in and learn what He did, to know what we should do:

Jesus only did what God was doing (John 5:19). Jesus never did anything that He didn’t see the Father doing. We follow Jesus who follows God. But we get caught up in wanting to know “what is going to happen if” (fear). We think we know, and that’s when we start taking over.

One family night my hubby dropped my daughter and me off at the door to the movies. On the way out, we didn’t know where our vehicle was. She asked several times, “Where are we parked, Daddy?”. I used the opportunity to teach. Daddy knows where the car is. We can trust Daddy. If we follow Daddy, we will get to the car. Jesus knows what He’s doing too. We can trust Him. If we follow Him, we will always be going the right way. 

Hey, I get it. I really do. Life is scary. There are a lot of unknowns to us. We. Don’t. Know. Where. We. Are. Going. But, Jesus does. Where He is, the Father is. Are you in Christ? Are you doing what He is doing? There shouldn’t be a big disconnect between the stuff Jesus does and the stuff that we do because we should be looking at Jesus, doing what He is doing as Jesus is looking at the Father, doing what He is doing. You know, follow the leader, Simon says game. Only, life isn’t a game, and we aren’t kids. 

We spend so much time trying to get Jesus to turn around and follow us…..and we don’t even know where we are going. If we lead, it is rarely good for anyone that we influence or who follows us.

If our passion–if our focus is on Jesus–then we are headed right where God wants us. And, wherever God is….that’s for sure where I want to be.

What about those neutral things? Those things that aren’t right or wrong? What about when I mess up? David messed up. Big. Yet, He was called the man after God’s own heart. David’s secret? Humility. He knew that a truly humbled heart is the way to please God (Psalm 51:17).

In contrast, being proud is a sure-fire way to guarantee that God is NOT with you. God resists the proud (James Ch 4).

The idea that God is on our side can lead us two ways:

  • Thinking that it means now we can get done all we want to do because He’s with me. He’s on my side.
  • Worship. Know myself truly, that apart from God there isn’t one thing in me good. I don’t want to be on my own side. It stinks! I want to be on God’s side. I join in with Psalm 124 and say, “If the Lord had not been on my side.” I say in all humility, BUT GOD. By His grace go I.

Identity Crisis

I saw this a while back and saved it. I do that a lot when I run across things on the World Wide Web. The problem is, often times, I can’t remember where I get them.

I wanted to share it here with you to bless you and help you all to remember your identity in Christ. The true and powerful identity we have after we accept Him as Lord and Savior.

This, my friends, is who you are in Christ. There is no identity crisis here! Name it and proclaim it!! Don’t forget it. Brothers and Sisters, don’t you dare believe anything less than who your Creator says you are!

Thank You Jesus!!

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Now, join me in a Jesus jig! Praise You, Lord! There’s no way we can read a list like that and not worship and glorify Your name! Hallelujah!

Don’t Look At Scripture

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Scripture gives perspective. The Word builds fruit in our lives. We sometimes look “at” scripture but not “through” scripture.

Go through your day by looking at it “through” the scriptures. Because He told you this morning in His Word that He loves you and goes before you, gives you wisdom, has good plans for you, you will respond to things rather than react to things. Live out your day on those promises fearlessly when things come your way, knowing that He meant what He said.

We can walk through things boldly and confident in Christ when we see every event, change, or situation through His promises.

But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalms 1:2, 3

Come Home, Runaway

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“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:17-24 NIV)

I deeply love this parable. The father seeing his son come from a long way off indicates that he habitually looked for his return, scanning the distant road daily hoping to see him. The father put feet to his feelings by RUNNING out to meet his son. The father displayed compassion, love (threw his arms around his neck and kissed him), celebration, joyful restoration of status for his son (a robe of distinction, a signet ring of family authority, sandals worn by a son in contrast to a barefoot slave). The father initiated restoration of fellowship before the son could articulate his confession because he knew what was in his heart.

Everything the younger son had hoped to find in the far country, he discovered back home: clothes, jewelry, friends, joyful celebration, love, and assurance for the future.

The difference: instead of saying, ‘Father, give me!’ (as he did before he left) he said, ‘Father, make me!’ He was willing to be a servant!

God’s compassion for a wandering sinner returning home far outweighs any sin we have committed. His love for us is deep, and His grace and mercy are long. God is not waiting for his shamed child to slink home, nor is He standing on His dignity when He comes, but RUNNING out to gather us, shamed and ragged and muddied as we are, to His welcoming arms. The name “Father” will at once fade the color of sin and heighten the splendid glory of forgiveness.

In Phillip Yancey’s book “What’s so Amazing about Grace,” Yancy retells the story of the Prodigal Son from a modern day view point. It is a powerful story and it’s definitely worth sharing. Here’s the story …

THE RUNAWAY

A young girl grows up on a cherry orchard just above Traverse City, Michigan. Her parents, a bit old-fashioned, tend to overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, and the length of her skirts. They ground her a few times, and she seethes inside. “I hate you!” she screams at her father when he knocks on the door of her room after an argument, and that night she acts on a plan she has mentally rehearsed scores of times. She runs away.

She has visited Detroit only once before, on a bus trip with her church youth group to watch the Tigers play. Because newspapers in Traverse City report in lurid detail the gangs, drugs, and violence in downtown Detroit, she concludes that is probably the last place her parents will look for her. California, maybe, or Florida, but not Detroit.

Her second day there she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. He offers her a ride, buys her lunch, arranges a place for her to stay. He gives her some pills that make her feel better than she’s ever felt before. She was right all along, she decides: Her parents were keeping her from all the fun.

The good life continues for a month, two months, a year. The man with the big car—she calls him “Boss”–teaches her a few things that men like. Since she’s underage, men pay a premium for her. She lives in a penthouse and orders room service whenever she wants. Occasionally she thinks about the folks back home, but their lives now seem so boring that she can hardly believe she grew up there. She has a brief scare when she sees her picture printed on the back of a milk carton with the headline, “Have you seen this child?” But by now she has blond hair, and with all the makeup and body-piercing jewelry she wears, nobody would mistake her for a child. Besides, most of her friends are runaways, and nobody squeals in Detroit.

After a year, the first sallow signs of illness appear, and it amazes her how fast the boss turns mean. “These days, we can’t mess around,” he growls, and before she knows it she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, but they don’t pay much, and all the money goes to support her drug habit. When winter blows in she finds herself sleeping on metal grates outside the big department stores. “Sleeping” is the wrong word—a teenage girl at night in downtown Detroit can never relax her guard. Dark bands circle her eyes. Her cough worsens.

One night, as she lies awake listening for footsteps, all of a sudden everything about her life looks different. She no longer feels like a woman of the world. She feels like a little girl, lost in a cold and frightening city. She begins to whimper. Her pockets are empty and she’s hungry. She needs a fix. She pulls her legs tight underneath her and shivers under the newspapers she’s piled atop her coat. Something jolts a synapse of memory and a single image fills her mind: of May in Traverse City, when a million cherry trees bloom at once, with her golden retriever dashing through the rows and rows of blossomy trees in chase of a tennis ball.

God, why did I leave? she says to herself, and pain stabs at her heart. My dog back home eats better than I do now. She’s sobbing, and she knows in a flash that more than anything else in the world she wants to go home.

Three straight phone calls, three straight connections with the answering machine. She hangs up without leaving a message the first two times, but the third time she says, “Dad, Mom, it’s me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, well, I guess I’ll just stay on the bus until it hits Canada.”

It takes about seven hours for a bus to make all the stops between Detroit and Traverse City, and during that time she realizes the flaws in her plan. What if her parents are out of town and miss the message? Shouldn’t she have waited another day or so until she could talk to them? Even if they are home, they probably wrote her off as dead long ago. She should have given them some time to overcome the shock.

Her thoughts bounce back and forth between those worries and the speech she is preparing for her father. “Dad, I’m sorry. I know I was wrong. It’s not your fault, it’s all mine. Dad, can you forgive me?” She says the words over and over, her throat tightening even as she rehearses them. She hasn’t apologized to anyone in years.

The bus has been driving with lights on since Bay City. Tiny snowflakes hit the road, and the asphalt steams. She’s forgotten how dark it gets at night out here. A deer darts across the road and the bus swerves. Every so often, a billboard. A sign posting the mileage to Traverse City. Oh, God.

When the bus finally rolls into the station, its air brakes hissing in protest, the driver announces in a crackly voice over the microphone, “Fifteen minutes, folks. That’s all we have here.” Fifteen minutes to decide her life. She checks herself in a compact mirror, smooths her hair, and licks the lipstick off her teeth. She looks at the tobacco stains on her fingertips and wonders if her parents will notice. If they’re there.

She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect, and not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepare her for what she sees. There, in the concrete-walls-and-plastic-chairs bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of 40 family members—brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and great-grandmother to boot. They are all wearing ridiculous-looking party hats and blowing noisemakers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads “Welcome home!”

Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She looks through tears and begins the memorized speech, “Dad, I’m sorry. I know … “

He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. You’ll be late for the party. A banquet’s waiting for you at home.”

And so it is with God’s amazing grace. But what’s so amazing about it, anyway?

Ask people what they must do to get to return to God and most reply, “Be good.” Jesus’ stories contradict that answer.

All we must do is cry, “Help!” God welcomes home anyone who will have Him and, in fact, has made the first move already.

That’s what’s so amazing about grace.

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My Choice: My love Supremely (or how to mess up crap)

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In Luke 14:25-35, Jesus is saying that if we do not love Him supremely, more than our family and more than our own lives, we cannot be His disciple. There is no half-way measure. Not all believers bear the Cross. It is possible by living a nominal Christian life. This is called the lukewarm Christian life.

But, if we determine to be all out for Christ we must live the type of life that Christ lived when He was here on earth–a life of self-renunciation, reproach, persecution, temptation, in opposition of others, humiliation.

He wants us to understand that this living and leading like Jesus isn’t for wimps. We need to count the cost. To take up our cross daily is to expect painful situations everyday because of our allegiance to Christ.

I can certainly choose to live a nominal, lukewarm Christian life and avoid all that…..but, it would cost me so much more.

I would miss the miracles, the power, the blessings of seeing God move first-hand. I would miss this deep love affair that sweeps me off my feet. I would miss the dance and gazing into eyes of my Savior; that skin to skin closeness that leaves me speechless.

Who wants to miss that? Not me. Nothing I suffer here on earth could ever be more than what He did for me. Before I knew Him….when He was a stranger to me….He suffered and died for me. Most of us would give our lives for our spouses, or our children because we know and love them but not for a stranger that didn’t even know our names. We get goosebumps when a stranger in the car in front of us buys our coffee for us (I’m not knocking that show of kindness. I think it’s great). BUT this Jesus DIED for me BEFORE I EVEN KNEW HIS NAME. THAT deserves my life. My love supremely. My worship. Everything. No. Holding. Back.

Please allow me to speak bluntly with you:
I have heard many people say, “I feel like crap” or, “I look like crap”. I’ve probably said it myself. In Luke 14:34-35, Jesus is talking about the lukewarm Christian being useless and even messing up crap. Wow. If we stepped in crap, He would have to tell us to move out because we would be messing it up. How bad is THAT?! That is funny, but it’s not funny.

How about making Him throw up?? Take a look at Rev 3:14-22. I don’t want Him to vomit me out of His mouth! He urges us to cleanse, repent, shake off, open our eyes, to be committed. This. Is. Your. Call. Listen! He is standing at the door knocking. Hear His voice and open that door and dine with Him. Besides, the victor will get to sit with Jesus at the dinner table! I get excited about having the opportunity to sit and talk with brilliant people, but THIS! Whew, glory!

You’ve been feeling empty and seeking out your purpose. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

When we give up everything to follow Christ, guess what we find? We find everything right there in Christ. Just like salt, we have a useful purpose. We are here for more than to breath oxygen, and collect treasures of this world. I know money is important and that living life here takes money. Breathing oxygen is important to life, but we are here for more reasons than to breath. We have a purpose to live out, and that purpose is to follow Christ. Christian, its time to live a purpose driven life that lives and leads your family like Jesus. Step out from the crowd, be committed, repent and let’s do this. Together.

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Go All In {Bible Study: Living and Leading Like Jesus}

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Read Luke 10:25-37

Focus: Luke 10: 27, 37

27) He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 37) The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus tole him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:27,37)

The ‘expert in the law’ was testing Jesus. He was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. I had to giggle a little about Him quoting scripture to JESUS. Ha! He had no idea that he was talking to the Word made flesh and quoting the Word to the “Word”! Ha! The purpose of the law is not to save from sin, but to produce knowledge of sin…the function of the law is to show man what a guilty sinner we are. Jesus was trying to make a point with this man about following the letter of the law versus following the heart and Spirit of the law, but he didn’t get it. We know this by the way he says, ‘the one’ instead of saying the Samaritan. He knew the answer in his head but not in his heart.

Love God and Love people. That’s it.

Makes sense to me that these verses are in this order…. Love God with all of you and love His people. The closer we grow in our walk with God the more we can understand His love and be filled with love for others. All the more reason to be sure I am spending time with Him every day. Jesus is telling us to live as He lived and love as He loves. And, that is loving God supremely with the TOTAL person…go ALL in.…allowing nothing to come between us and God….and then go and love His people like THAT.

The question started out: Who is my neighbor? but it ended by posing the question: To whom do you prove yourself a neighbor? My neighbor is anyone of any race, creed or social background. The real test of love is action, not just profession. Loving God with all of me and see people as He sees them. ALL are worthy.

 

God wants us to understand that people are always more important than our schedules, our things, our money, and our time. Helping people means personal sacrifice, but that’s how we show God’s love to them. And we let God love them through us!

 

I love the picture of Christ here: The Samaritans were despised by the Jews because of their mixed Gentile blood. It was a despised and hated Samaritan that stopped to care for the Jew. Jesus came to this world, despised, rejected, and hated….for us. He saw us in our desperate need, had compassion on us. There is nothing….no debt of ours….that He leaves unpaid by the sacrifice…..payment for my soul….for all eternity. His blood paid my sin debt. Woo!!!! THANK YOU JESUS!!! (also note that this is a picture of how Jesus extended His hand of love to His own people….the Jews….in spite of how they reject and despise Him)

 

Our Greatness Is Measured By Surrender {Live and Lead Like Jesus Bible Study}

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Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.” (Luke 9:47-48)

The Twelve were thinking about rank in the kingdom. They wondered which of them would have the highest position and the most prestige. Jesus knows us intimately. He knew the competitive pride that fostered the argument and was quick to point out that spiritually whoever was least was great.

By standing the child beside Him, Jesus gave the child honor. Acceptable service involves caring about people, even insignificant people A child was the least significant person in Jewish and in Greco-Roman culture. It reflects His interest in neglected people.

To live and lead like Jesus is to know that greatness in the Kingdom has nothing to do with greatness in this world.

Jesus meant that instead of seeking status for ourselves, His disciples should give their attention to the needs of people who have no status. The disciple who ministers to a person with no status, as though he or she was ministering to Jesus, does in fact minister to Jesus and to God the Father. Our care for others is a measure of our greatness. The principle here is that: the disciple who is willing to sacrifice personal advancement, in order to serve insignificant people, as the world evaluates people, is truly “great” in God’s estimation. Our greatness is measured by surrender and acceptance of God and His will.

We are free-ist when we obey, tallest when we are kneeling, and most alive when we die. A great leader is a servant leader—that’s who Jesus was, and that’s who we need to be if we want to live and lead like Jesus.

In short:

Being “important” isn’t important. What is important is serving others in the name of Jesus

~ I also think this is talking about more than just actions. It’s easy enough to “do” good things to help others and to serve those around you. It’s an attitude of saying that others are important and that Jesus loves them. That in itself is enough reason to give that person value. And because they have value, I’m willing to do whatever I can to help them! Sometimes the heart attitude comes after the actions of our hands, so we should be willing to work even when we don’t feel like it. -Amanda GMG

Prayer:
Lord, thank You for Your grace. We try to make things about us. Forgive us! May our focus be ever on decreasing so that You may increase in our lives. May we be spiritually sensitive and accepting of Your will and Word, and be found faithful. In Jesus name, Amen

YOU are the equipment {Live and Lead Like Jesus Bible Study}

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He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.” Luke 9:3-5

Jesus, our Master Leader was giving them detailed, specific instructions so they would know what to do. Up until now they watched Jesus do it, but now He sends them out to proclaim the Gospel. They weren’t to load themselves up with equipment but were to keep it simple….THEY were the equipment. Staying in one place taught them about being content where they are. No trading around homes for better ones. It was customary that when people would leave a town they had no relationship with, they would dust their feet when they left as a sign to them. Having them do the same was a testimony of their lack of relationship with Jesus. If they weren’t welcomed, they were to just leave town without making a scene.

To live and lead like Jesus, I need to understand the power and authority I have in HIM. Power means strength; authority means the right to use it. GOD will provide all we need in Word, and materials. This is our call to a life of total faith. We all have the Holy Spirit that speaks constantly to us, instructing us on what to do, what to say, where to go. WE are the equipment. HE equips the called. If HE calls you to it, HE will get you through it. To be an effective leader, we need to communicate the details of what is expected to others (it’s our responsibility). We need to be content with what we have, and teach that along too. We aren’t to exert pressure on those who reject the message. We are not responsible for how people respond to the message, GOD is.

Prayer:
Gracious, Heavenly Father, thank You so much for being our loving Father…the ultimate, loving Teacher. Bless us as we study together to live and lead as You would if You were in our place or in our shoes. Thank You that You are our everything, every time, to everyone, and in every situation. May we walk more intimately with You in each moment. In Jesus name, Amen

New Online Bible Study: Living and Leading Like Jesus

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Ladies, I am leading this online Bible Study. It’s FREE with no materials to buy, and is called Living and Leading Like Jesus. Luke 9-16.

I am really excited about this study and I’d love to have you join me. Official enrollment opens THIS Monday (March 11) but go ahead and let me know now on this post if you’re joining us. The actual study begins March 25. It’s all done completely online through Facebook, Twitter, Email, or texting. It’s GREAT! I will create a private Facebook page for our group. No one but our members will see the group or our posts and comments. It’s been my favorite so far, E V E R.

Invite your buddies and join us! We always have a great time and grow so much:) >Let me know if you’re interested in joining (and if you have any questions) by <strongcommenting here on this post.

**GENTLEMEN: please pass this on to the ladies in your life, in your church, etc**

For more details on the study itself, click this link. *PLEASE NOTE THE SITE WILL BE DOWN THIS WEEKEND FOR SOME UPDATES BUT WILL BE BACK ONLINE MONDAY (March 11)*:
Online Bible Study with Christy Rawls at Good Morning Girls

No Longer At Sin’s Beck And Call

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……”This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:20


The New Testament of the Bible literally means “The New Covenant.” The word covenant means an arrangement made by one party, which another party involved could accept or reject but could not altar. We can accept or reject Jesus, but we can’t change or altar who He is, or what He accomplished. Religions try. People try. But it doesn’t change a thing.

The whole second half of the Bible teaches us about the new covenant given to us in Jesus. The Old Testament primarily records God’s dealings with Israel on the basis of the covenant given through Moses, while the New Testament describes the new arrangement of God with men through Christ on the basis of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant revealed the holiness of God in the righteous standard of the law and promised a coming Redeemer; the New Covenant shows the holiness of God in His righteous Son. The New Testament, then, contains those writings that reveal the content of this New Covenant

The message of the New Testament Centers on:

  • the Person who gave Himself for the remission of sins (Matt 26:28)
  • the people (the church) who have received His salvation
  • Thus the central theme of the New Testament is salvation. The Gospels introduce the Savior. The book called Acts describes the spread of the good news about His salvation. The letters (Romans-Jude) give details of the blessings of that salvation (and the practical application of Christian doctrine to life situations) , and Revelation describes the ultimate triumph of Jesus Christ and His people in the future.

    We are now under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ who brings us from glory to glory each day through His unwavering grace. We are a chosen people belonging to God who called us out of a darkness into His wonderful light. We must declare His praises! (see 1Peter2:9) We are no longer at sin’s every beck and call. We get included in Christ’s sin conquering death and we also get included in His life-saving resurrection.

    When Jesus died, He took sin down with Him, but alive He brings God down to us

    From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. Sin doesn’t get a vote. You are dead to sin and alive to God. THAT’s what Jesus did. See Romans 6:1-23 MSG.

    What will you do then with this Jesus? Accept or reject Him?

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    Equip: Effective Bible Study

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    I’ve had several people ask me about effective Bible study so today I want to make it available to everyone. Remember, if He can give it through you, He will give it to you. I have a blended method, but found the acronym “SOAP” through Good Morning Girls to be easy to remember so in sharing this, I use that acronym and added some things that I find to be effective. That’s what listening to God is all about. Use this, and listen to God yourself as you grow closer to Him through His word. You can tweak this however you want:

    The acronym is SOAP but as I said, I’ve added a twist:

  • Scripture: First, get yourself positioned to hear from God. Pull away from distractions into quiet, no matter where that may be for you (many, many times over the years I’ve had to do this in the car while waiting to pick up one of my children, so just wherever that is for YOU).
      Physically write out the scripture. You’ll be amazed what God will reveal just by taking the time to slow down and actually write out what you’re reading. We’re looking for quality here not quantity. Write out one verse, then a paraphrase of this verse; pulling out the major points. So, you’re paper will have one verse, your paraphrase, the next verse, your paraphrase, etc.
  • Observation: Pull put spiritual principals. Who is the audience? Is there a repetition of words? What words stand out to you? Circle those words. Is there a promise? An attribute of God to know? Something I need to learn (there ALWAYS is)? A promise? A command? Really put yourself into the story. Feel what’s going on.
  • Application: This is when God’s Word becomes personal. What is God saying to me today? How can I apply what I just read to my own personal life? What changes do I need to make? Is there an action that I need to take? What is it I am supposed to learn from this? Something I need to do…..be….do better……more of? Ask yourself: am I heeding that command, that promise in scripture? He always speaks for our obedience.
  • Prayer and Plan: Pray God’s Word back to Him. If He has revealed something to you during the time in His Word, pray about it. Confess of He has revealed sin in your life.

    Plan to do what God wants you to do. If you need to start a new habit, new walk, new anything, more of something….be strategic about it. The enemy’s attacks are strategically placed against us….be equally strategic in how you are going to do what God wants you to do.

  • Feel free to share anything you have found to be effective in your own Bible Study!

    You are qualified, and you have the resources

    20130115-071443.jpgMany have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)

    Luke wasn’t an apostle. He didn’t have his own first hand account of Christ, yet he pens a Gospel that declares Jesus Christ as the Messiah. How many times have we talked ourselves out of being a witness for the Lord because we didn’t feel qualified? Luke shows us that if we use the resources we do have, we can proclaim Christ effectively too. And besides, it’s God who qualifies the called! He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

    We have so many resources, and chief among them would be our Lord who gives wisdom to those who ask for it and seek hungrily after it. We have the Bible….the Word….His Word. We have people around us, commentaries, everything literally at our fingertips in this day and age. I wonder if any one of the New Testament Christ followers were here today, how amazed they would be that we have the ability and resources to lean into teachings from great leaders from around the world within seconds. At our fingertips we have the resources to reach people everywhere around the globe with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

    Luke was a “beloved physician” and a Gentile. He came to know Jesus, and went out to give Him away. He fell in love with the Great Physician and knew the world around Him needed Him too. God had placed within him a need to pass along a healing, and now he knew the Great Healer Himself. His skills of observation and analysis helped him come to the greatest diagnosis in his life: the Good News of Jesus Christ is true!

    Our spiritual growth has to involve our digging into God’s Word so that we can understand who He is and what His will is for us. If you’re struggling with knowing what Gods will is for your life, how much time do you spend with Him, talking with Him, in His Word? How much do I really love Him if I don’t want to spend time with Him? I will have a faithful devotional life or I will be a backslider

    Let’s follow Luke’s example and dig in…go deep….into the Word. Begin where you are. Both baby steps and big steps are still a beginning. Learn. Grow. But, also tell. We can’t be selfish with what God gives us. If we want more, we have to give more. If He can give it through you, He will give it to you.

    I plan to do a post on my go-to favorites in resources. What are some resources you love and use?

    Psalm 1: The two ways and the destiny that follows

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    In the first chapter of Psalms, we see in 6 verses, a clear description of two ways of life and the destiny they create. We see the behavior. We see the destiny. We see what is anticipated for those who follow the each way.

    What does a person look like that doesn’t follow the advice of the wicked, or do what the sinners around him are doing, mocking God and all He and His people stand for? Happy. And, blessed in all circumstances because God is with them, watching over their way. They know God and are delighted by learning more about Him, and what He wants our lives to be. They think on and apply this to their lives, their decisions, their relationships and are fruitful, blessed and wise. The more they delight in obeying God’s word, the more fruitful they are.

    When we apply God’s wisdom, the fruit…..the by-product….will be good. Just as a tree soaks up water and bears fruit, we also are to soak up God’s word, producing actions and attitudes that honor God. And, notice the tree is on a river bank….never thirsty, always filled.

    When we allow God to proceed into every area of our lives, we succeed at having the abundant life He plans for us and came to give us.

    How happy (blessed) is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the LORD’S instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not survive the judgement, and sinners will not be in the community of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin. Psalms 1:1-6 {Emphasis mine}

    Encouraged Encourager

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    It’s been several days since my last writing to you. Very strange for me, I know. I’ve been writing, but not to you, at least not here. You’ve all been on my mind and in my prayers. I have so much to tell you. Lots of things happening here. Great, awesome and terrifyingly wonderful things. It’s for another post though….another time….a little later…

    For now, I want to share with you how encouraged I’ve been. All these changes, and on the most trying of days, have been met with such great words of encouragement. I’ve always been so conscientious about encouraging others, but for now, in this season, God has been pouring them on me. I’ve needed it. I’ve needed it a lot more on some days than others, and He knows that. He always knows that. He always gives it freely.

    A simple text, an email, a short voicemail message, a Facebook message, a message on Twitter…..all so small, so quick to do, yet make such a huge impact on one’s day, or moment. I call these divine interventions. Ever felt that? The sudden urge to contact someone? To give a positive word, or simply ask how they’re doing? Don’t dismiss it. Go with it. It could change a life. It will change a life! It’s part of a big plan that you’re privileged to be part of!

    An encourager leaves people full and refreshed. God has cornered the market on encouragement.

    You’re never more like God than when you are encouraging people

    When our lives get hectic, when our legs ache, our throats burn, and our whole body cries out for us to stop running this marathon we call life….this is when friends and family are most valuable. The cheers, the encouragement help us push through the pain to the finish.

    A word of encouragement offered at the right moment can be the difference between finishing well and collapsing along the way

    Let me encourage you today to find a needy person and enrich them; a lonely person and include them; a misunderstood person and affirm them; an undiscovered person and develop them; a failing person and restore them. And, go to a leader today…the one that is always so strong….and encourage them. Speaking from experience, because we are so strong, people forget we sometimes need to lay down, rest, and receive a good word of encouragement too. Be sensitive to God’s using you to bless others in this way.

    Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…..(1Thessalonians 5:11)

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God (2Corinthians 1:3-4)

    Watch this inspiring video and allow it to encourage you

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    Stay Close to the Light

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    Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become children of the light.” When he has finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them. (John 12:35-36)

    Stay close and the darkness won’t overtake you…..

    I remember that night so well. We could hear the tornado coming. The electricity was out and there we were in the dark.

    Suddenly the house we knew was unknown. We had one tiny flashlight that barely lit our path in front of us. Kids were scared, and I was doing a good job at faking my calm. The already dim flashlight began flickering….darn, I forgot to replace the batteries…..and I wondered how long the light would be with us.

    For a brief second, a child stepped away to grab something but quickly discovered that when he stepped away from Mom the darkness would overtake him. “Stay close and the darkness won’t overtake you”…..the child that was clinging tighter than my pj’s said: messaged received.

    Jesus was teaching that He is the light. His crucifixion was near, and He was urging them to believe in and walk closely with Him while there was still time…..stay close to the light and the darkness won’t overtake you.

    In our home we knew so well, we were constantly unsure of where we were as we inched along.

    When there is absolute absence of light, even the familiar is unknown

    When we believe and give our lives to Jesus as Savior and Lord, He (the Light) remains with us forever. Darkness will not overtake us. Like a light shining in a dark place, He points the way we should walk.

    As Christ followers, we are to be Christ’s light bearers, letting His light shine through us. How brightly is your light shining? Can others see Christ in your actions? Walking in the Light isn’t simply about living a moral life; it’s a matter of following Christ, Who is the Light.

    I’ve been to some pretty dark places in my life…..and in the lives of others. I’ve seen darkness overtake people: message received. I cling tightly to my Savior.

    Jesus’ return is near. He is urging you to believe in Him, and give Him your life while there is still time. Walk in the Light and the darkness won’t overtake you.

    For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light. (Ephesians 5:8)

    God Sings and Shouts With Joy

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    When I think of the Lord God of the universe…..the Creator of EVERYTHING finding delight in me it seems so surreal. He has loved us so much and I am in awe that He sent His son to die for my sins….me personally an individually…..and you too….personally and individually.

    The Lord Himself exults over us with gladness and sings, resting in quiet ecstasy over us in whom is all His delight. Wow. WOW! Do you feel worthy of that? I don’t! But, it’s true! This awesome and undeserved love stirs within my heart a need to rise up and praise Him.

    The mighty God is with us…walks with us, speaks to us and quiets all the loud stirrings within us with His complete and perfect love. His patient, forgiving love. His peaceful love. His faithful, unending love. His joyous love. His kind love. His gentle love. Alllll of His love……. this awesome, huge love is given to you….brought and introduced first to this world in the form of a baby. Born to die…given to you. And all because he loves you!

    God is with you, mighty to save. He sent His Son to die on the cross for your sins. Giving your life to Him quiets and brings rest to your soul. You’ll find confidence in your future for you know He is with you in this life, and in the life to come. He is victorious….therefore those who belong to Him are victorious. Giving your life to Him causes Him great rejoicing. Yes, rejoicing no matter what you’ve done, and who you are, and where you are….He rejoices over you. And you too rejoice with gladness for you know what He rescued you from and forgave you for

    Giving ourselves to Him to love and care for us delights Him and causes Him to break out in a song and shout with joy (rejoicing!). This very day, as the great big mighty God of the universe thinks about us, He is glad, He is delighted, He loves us and it causes Him to sing.

    The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)

    Directions For What Path To Go On, And The Steps To Take To Get There

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    Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. (Psalm 119:105,106)

    God’s word both directs us on which path to go on, and what steps to take to get there.

    I love thorough planning. I like to have a plan in place but then be very fluid within that plan; allowing for His divine appointments and His Spirit to move. When working with a team I like to be thorough and simple in my instructions….here’s what I want you to do, and here’s how I want you to do it.

    The light of His word exposes truth and righteousness…..sheds some light on the subject for seeing ahead to what’s coming down my path, and what I’m doing in the right now

    His word exposes the right direction, while keeping us sure footed, preventing us from stumbling or stepping into a trap…..or entangled in false values (sound familiar? Been there? Done that? Me too…and I didn’t like it and I’m not doing that again!). On such a path there is no danger but a heritage and joy. The guidance of the Lord’s instructions allow us to rightly divide right and wrong.

    God loves us. He’s safe and we can trust Him. Firmly vowing to follow His word and plan for our lives is definitely a step in the right direction. If we love Him, we will want to obey Him (John 14:15). We have a powerful tool to guide us in obedience–His word.

    Here it is:

    If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep getting what we’re getting………..

    …………If we don’t like what we’ve been getting, then we need to stop doing what we’ve been doing


    There’s a new day dawning. Firmly…..I said, firmly this time……vow to trust God for a change and follow Him.