What Was Less Has Been Replaced

 

Have you been watching the Olympics? On nights that sleep doesn’t win, I’ve enjoyed watching those amazing athletes soar in their sports and been struck by the look on their faces when the scoring comes on the screen. The numbers tell their story, victory or defeat. Enough or less than enough.

I imagine what it would be like if my day was scored. But, wait a minute, it is. Whether it should be or not. All of us can feel a bit unfairly judged, can’t we? We compare our accomplishments with others or our younger selves and come up wanting. There is this longing to know that we’re really good at something. An Olympian at something.

I want something that was never promised. Now I know my problem and can face it. I will always be less unless I replace it with what God gives freely. Author Ann Voscamp says “grace is weightless” and she’s right because Jesus says “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30), Comparison and competition can crush us under the weight of their judgements. We were never meant to live under that burden. We were meant for abundant life (John 10:10).

The truth is that God creates and satisfies our unique needs in every way. This is a dynamic principle. It is never finished, because He is not finished with us yet. He is the Creator that knows His creation. So much better than they know themselves. There must be open communication between us and our Heavenly Father God. If we don’t make the effort or take the time to pray, our less will grow to more and more less. And as it grows, so does an emptiness that feels like the deepest hunger.

Why am I not replacing what is less with what I have an unlimited access to? I am the daughter of a King. And not just “a” King, but the King of Kings! Why do I forget how to pray for what I have need of? I mean really pray, with faith, believing, (James 1:6-7,  4:2, 5:16). My soul forgets to take my needs to the only One who can turn those requests into my greatest good. I don’t have to worry if they are in His will, because He gives me the safety net of His love that would never allow me to be the one who gets to decide what I get or don’t get. Truly, there have been some things I have asked for that it would have been a disaster if He would have given them to me.

“If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven give to them that ask him.” Matthew 7:11

I love how Jesus says “Father which is in Heaven.” Can you think of a better place to see the wide expanse of our lives? He is the only One who sees how each prayer answered can be intertwined with other lives. The control of that has to come from “higher up.” Much higher up.

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:19

God gets to decide what the “good” gifts are. He is the only One who knows and sees that big picture and makes the decisions when we replace our will for His as we pray.

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8: 26-28

There is a parable Jesus told in Matthew 12:43-45 that talks about a man that was less than he should have been for God and so he cleaned up his act but did not replace his less with God’s enough and the ending to that story is awful. Since there was empty space that the man did not fill with Christ, the evil came back into his life with greater force than in the beginning.

This teaches us that we cannot just stop a bad habit or try to change a pattern of thinking and then the good stuff will happen. We need to come just as we are, give our less than to Christ and replace it with more of Him. Right away! This is true with anything we are doing that we shouldn’t. Don’t just say you’ll stop, make a plan for a positive thing that will replace it and you will be less likely to return to what you were trying to get away from.

Let’s take our less, which leads to nothing more than a mess, and replace it with prayers for peace, His peace, (John 14:27). Let’s go where He leads us and when we’re not sure, just take the next step toward our passion and trust Him to reveal our purpose and His will. Remember that He will never lead you to anything contrary to what His Word teaches. Read the Bible, lots of the Bible! And don’t leave “empty” space. Replace it with more of Jesus!

And when the “scores” come in, we will be okay, because we know Who wins!

Notes: Post image by Melanie Lamb. The title for this post is a line from a Big Daddy Weave song. I highly recommend listening to their music, it glorifies God and can put good thoughts in your brain for the Kingdom.

 

Holding Daddy’s Hand

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Psalm 73:23-24

“Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand.

You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory.”

There are absolutely endless benefits in the salvation we have in Christ, but one of my favorites is being able to call the God of the universe my Heavenly Father.  To know that He loves me too much to allow me to not be a part of His family. This family of His that will be together forever in glory.

I need held, guided, counseled and received. No matter how special our earthly fathers are to us, they should never be held to such high standards. We are far too needy for them. Only our Heavenly Father can “continually” be with us and give us what we need – forever.

When Jesus taught us to pray, in Matthew 6:9, He taught us to address God, His Father, as “Our Father, which art in Heaven.”  How amazing this is. Jesus, who is about to die for us to have this privilege. He is willing to share His Father with us, to welcome us into His family, when we have absolutely nothing to bring to it but brokenness. This is love that is perfect and I can’t praise Him enough for it.

I can remember, when I was a little girl, the sound of my father’s pick-up truck as it made it’s way up the hill to our farmhouse. Many times he worked late and I would be in bed, but I could rest better knowing he was home. Good fathers leave memories like that. Some of you may not have good memories of your earthly father and my heart aches for you. Let me tell you that your Father God wants to hold your hand and show you what a good parent He is.

“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” Psalm 27:10

I hate to think this but, no matter how good our parents are here, they will never be enough to take care of all of our needs at all times. They can only hold our hands for so long. But our Heavenly Father will always be with us. His limitless love and power and peace will guide us and keep us, forever.

He is always there, standing at the door of our hearts, desiring to come and dine with us through prayer. (Rev. 3:20) When we are at the place of realizing how helpless we truly are, we can finally truly pray and our Father is always listening and ready to work in our lives according to His perfect will. Be that little girl, reach up with your right hand and take hold of Your Heavenly Father’s hand and go where He leads you today. I am.

 

 

Untitled

 

I’ve lost my last two attempts to produce a post this week. All I did was click something wrong and they were gone. The third time, they say, is a charm. This will be my “untitled” post since, I’m not sure where it’s headed. Just some words about the journey and how God is good. Good to me and good at being God.

That last sentence was one adopted after I read “Uninvited” by Lisa TerKeurst. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a good book to help deal with rejection and the struggles you might be dealing with. And who isn’t? It stings when you get up in the morning and just want to live your life the best you know how and someone or something enters into it and, wham!, you didn’t see that coming.

I can’t fathom, since I met Jesus, living one more hour of one more day without knowing that God is good, good to me and good at being God. As I look over at my Bible on the beautiful stand my father made for me, I see the side where I’ve opened the pages and they are looking frayed. The beautiful gold edges are looking like they have been touched and flipped through many times. This is how I know God is good. His Word tells me so, and His presence as I spend time in it, assures me that He is mine.

So this is where this is going. As my coffee brewed this morning, the Holy Spirit said to me “Remember what you watched last night?” It was one of those nature shows by National Geographic where these folks live in the wilderness all by themselves and take pride in just surviving the day to day in the harsh environment of Alaska. How does that work? It seems like such  a contradiction. They live a secluded life yet they are on media where millions watch them day and night?

I know that Scripture teaches there are, sometimes, periods when God calls us to be secluded to have quiet, reflective time with Him.  Away from other people so we can focus on Him alone. As an introvert, I would love to just live “Jesus and me” but that is not the command. The command is to love and show love and share the gospel. Maybe those wilderness folks take their influence and compensation and support others who share the gospel. My job is not to judge. I am only responsible for using the experiences God allows in my life in the ways He leads me to. The peace God gives when we give Him our cares can’t be understood. It just happens. As the Scripture says:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God, and the peace of God which surpasses understanding will fill your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“Casting all  your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

As this cold winter continues to press on, remember His goodness, His love and care, and His power to be the One in control. He doesn’t do anything haphazard or wild or crazy. When our faith remains in Him, it is not too cold and things are not too hard. They only seem that way when we are trying to survive our own wilderness without the constant reminder that He is with us.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

This scripture is right before that wonderful truth of verse 8:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

God is our supreme example that we are not to live without relationships. He sent His Son to pay the price for our sin, so He could have a relationship with us. If this is something you have never heard before, please check out “The Statement of Faith” on this site.

If you would like to find out more about Lisa’s book, check out uninvitedbook.com. Picture credit: Pillow made for me by my sweet sister, Jenny, love it!

Yes indeed, God is good. All the time.

 

 

 

 

Update Available?

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Update Available?

My iPhone, iPad and computer have updates. All too often, I dismiss the screen because I am afraid if I update them before I’m ready, I’ll encounter changes I am not ready to deal with. God can use anything to call attention to His will. It is amazing to me how the phrases and words used to deal with today’s technology remind me of my journey of faith. Save. Delete. Update. — Salvation. Forgiveness of Sin. Renewal.

In the dentist’s chair, as a patient of course, he asks me, “Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?” “Nope” I say smugly. Remembering all the ones I have failed to keep. (Maybe the “flossing” every day is the one he’s noticed that I’ve failed at.) But I don’t care. I was waiting for the one that I really needed and that would be possible to keep.

I’ve been waiting. Today it arrived. Some new inspiration to get started on the New Year.

I get inspired by other women who serve God. If you are on Instagram, check out “Well Watered Woman.” This year’s inspiring phrase is “The Word before the World.” This is how I try to start my day anyway, but, I can get distracted. I can think the “other stuff” screams louder and so I do what I have to do.

And the other things do scream louder, those of you with littles know that all too well. When mine were little I would set my alarm to get up early and when I did, so did they it seemed. How frustrating this can be to your plan to be alone with the Lord, yet how precious and short this time is when they are needing you that way. Take heart. Do what you need to do for them, for Him. Any act of service or care done with the right attitude is holy. And it will be all good, I promise. I believe the world is what is outside your home, outside your inner circle of relationships. Time used for the ones God has given you to love and serve, should be a high priority.

You may say, “I am so busy doing what I have to do, I cannot add one more responsibility!” Time with God before the world does not have to consume so much of your time that you feel it can’t be squeezed into your daily routine. There is always enough time to have daily devotions, I promise. In truth, we are warned in Scripture that we could be weakened, become faint, “lose heart” without this effort on a daily basis. The Scripture says:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16

Day by Day means: Every. Single. Day. Which means there needs to be some way you can be with the Savior that renews. The God who made you in His image.  We “water” our faith, causing it to grow, by spending our precious time with Him, instead of the world. Because of the grace and mercy of God, His Holy Spirit speaks to us through Scripture. He did not leave us without instructions or inspiration. The place we find these is in the Bible. Read it. Study it. This is the way to be renewed.

Even though it is a crucial discipline, making sure I have a daily alone time with God is not the habit that God was trying to instill in my heart this morning. I am a high-needs Christian, so time with God every day through Scripture is my oxygen. I don’t think I could breathe without my daily time with Him, alone. But I’ve been stuck lately. Not moving forward with some things I know I should be doing because I feel powerless to change. Powerless to be renewed. Powerless to update what needs updated.

I use the perishing of my “outward man (woman)” as my excuse too many times. I want to play the “aging” card. I can get so set in the way I do things that I don’t want to change. I cringe when I have to learn a new “thing” at work. I stress over a new routine or new or better habit I should take on. I need to click on the Update and go to settings and get ready for the New Year with the updated version of me, renewed by His grace. Day by day.

Wherever you are today on this journey of faith, I pray this post encourages you to get into His Word. Make time with God alone, in His Word, a priority each day. And be ready to “Update” when and how you know He is telling you to.

With His help, I purpose in my heart, I resolve, to do this in 2018. How about you?

 

 

 

 

When The Future Seems Uncertain…

 

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When The Future Seems Uncertain…

I’m entering into 2018 a little hesitantly. I hate that because I’m usually pretty pumped to start a new year. Maybe it is because 2017 held some pretty significant sadness, and it’s a little scary to take on a new year looking for what could be difficult. If the same is true for you, let me share a song by J.J. Heller that is on repeat at my house this morning:

 

“Back Home”

Don’t let your eyes get used to darkness

The light is coming soon

Don’t let your heart get used to sadness

Put your hope in what is true

 

No matter how the wind may blow

It cannot shake the sun

Lay your sorrows on the ground

It’s time to come back home

 

When the future seems uncertain

Like the coming of a storm

Your loving Father carries his children

When they can’t walk anymore

 

No matter how the wind may blow

It cannot shake the sun

Lay your sorrows on the ground

It’s time to come back home

Oh, back home…

 

This song is kind of an anthem for me to lay down last year’s burdens, which I should have been giving to the Lord the whole year long. To allow Him to scoop me up like that little girl that loves to be carried in her Daddy’s arms and allow Him to carry me over the threshold of 2018. To come back home to the truth that “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4. And “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18.

For the Christian, home is always where our Father is; trying to succeed anywhere else will always leave us with an empty, sad feeling that we can get used to if we allow it. We can open our eyes in the morning and when we should be grateful for another day, we can wonder why we should get out of bed. That is when it is absolutely crucial that we read our Bibles, choose to believe every word and participate in a conversation God started in the Word and gives us the privilege to continue through prayer.

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One of the definitions of the word “crucial” is that it is an adjective that refers to “the form of a cross, cross-shaped.” Isn’t it interesting that the most critical, the most important takes us to the cross? The way to start any new year and take every, single day of it, is to keep mindful of the Cross. The victory won there that can never be defeated by sin.

So if the future seems uncertain, no worries, we have the certainty that our loving Father carries us through it all.

So, dear readers, Have a Happy New Year. In His everlasting arms.

“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:…” Deuteronomy 33:27

 

Ponder and Praise

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Ponder. Have you been doing that lately? Isn’t that what practicing Advent is all about? Taking the time to thoughtfully weigh the significance of the gift of Christ. There were 400 years from the prophesy of Malachi to the Advent of Christ. Four Hundred years, between the Old and New Testaments. Then, He comes. The Flesh that fulfills the Law and joins the Old and New and makes a way for us to be welcomed back into the heart of God. The hopeful anticipation of the Messiah is fulfilled in this little Babe.

After an angel tells Mary she will carry in her womb the Son of God. After an arduous journey to Bethlehem. After labor and delivery in a stable. After she swaddled Him and made Him a manger-bed. After a star appears overhead that had never been. After angels sent shepherds fearfully scurrying to see this Miracle, and left proclaiming it “widely.” After all this, the Scriptures say:

“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

In contrast to this pondering of Mary; can you think with me that we might ponder things at times that are of such little significance? The fruits of that kind of pondering are worry and discontent. This should tell us that maybe we are giving significance to things that are certainly not worthy and that are out of our control and we should be following the advice of the Apostle Paul.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

The heart of woman is a very precious thing. It is tender and strong and made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27) It is scientifically known that the brain of a man and a woman operate differently in relation to their emotional system. Those differences are good and right because God does not make mistakes in His creating. God created woman, out of man, to have characteristics that complement him and yes, help him; because it was not good that man was alone.

“And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Genesis 2:18.

Later on, in Luke 2, we see this mother’s heart again. Anxious, worried to death. And she scolds her Son for being the fault of it. Which one of us mothers has not been there? Jesus was 12, that age for me and my sons was precarious. Love them to death one minute, ready to knock their block off the next. But this is Jesus, after all. In the Scriptures it says that He stayed back in the temple when the family had taken off to head back home to Nazareth. A frantic mother and father searched for him among the crowds and He was nowhere to be found. So they traipse all the way back to Jerusalem and, finally, there He is.

“So when they see Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” Luke 2:48.

Now if I were writing the Scriptures, I would have used several exclamation points. You know I like them. I am sure Mary was quite emotional, because she is a female, and we are emotional. I can imagine her thoughts, God had given her His Son to raise and she lost Him. I felt that way with my own kids. Children are gifts from God, raising them is holy work. When I see those pictures of missing children, my heart aches for their families. All I can do is know that God knows where they are and pray for them.

Mary calmed down when Jesus reminded her.

“And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Luke 2:49

I can imagine Mary’s expression at that point. I would have probably thought, give me a break. This is hard, this raising of You. And then she pondered again, she did not understand it, because she was like us. She did what she could do, I imagine she held her tongue (unlike me) and… “kept all these things In her heart.” Luke 2:51. Because this is what a mother does. We keep all those things that we don’t know what to do with in our hearts. All the memories of the times our children bless us so much we could burst. All those times they worry us to the bone. All of it. Deep. In our hearts.

There are the ponderings that lead us to the sin of worry. And there are ponderings that lead us straight into praise. To the praise of our God. Who is and does more for us than we could ever deserve or imagine. All this grace upon grace. Unmerited favor. Ponder and praise on this today!

 

How are you doing?

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Are you right on track? Are you behind? Overwhelmed? Too busy? Too tired? And if things aren’t going too well right now, is that expected? And does it matter which time of the day I ask you?

I can handle just about anything first thing in the morning, if I’ve had a good night’s sleep. That didn’t happen last night and my eyes feel real tired right now. How about yours? The thing is – we can’t be expected to pull off everything we hope to, when and how we imagine it all. Period. And that’s okay because we live in an imperfect world. Stop expecting so much of yourself and everyone else around you. Stop expecting perfection, or anything close to it, and start enjoying the effort in the everyday.

I can remember my report card from the first grade. (Back in those days, not everyone did Kindergarten.) There was the grade for the subject, then there was the grade for the “effort.” Mom always told me the “effort” was the most important. I aced that one by the way. Usually they line up but not always for me. She made me feel valued because I tried, I will never forget that. That kind of stuff brings joy in the remembering.

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Laugh. Laugh when the cookies flop, the juice drops on the carpet and the package is late. Let joy be your default because Jesus is your Redeemer.

The only perfect expectation that cannot disappoint is one that is related to God. Talk to your soul, like David did, “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and salvation; He is my defense: I shall not be moved.” Psalm 62:5-6

You will not be giving up. You will not be a quitter because God is a Savior. He is your Rock when the winds of discouragement pummel you and try to make you unsteady. He is your Defense when that blasted accuser says “I told you so” over and over.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2: 11-14

The enemy of your soul does not want you to enjoy this Advent Season. He does not want joy in your heart or kindness or love to reign. Resist the urge to keep up with others that seem to “out-do” you. Keep looking for that “blessed hope” of this season. Settle it in your mind and heart that you have been rescued from the throes of evil, because God sent His Son. So He could be with us, always.

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God gave. And the greatest gift we can share is His love. This is such a light item to put at the top of our “to-do” list. We are “His own special people” and we are “zealous for good works.” Smile, over and over. Pray for those who are having a difficult time missing loved ones. Give your time and energy to those who could use more of both. Be brave as you step out of your comfort zone to bring comfort to someone who really needs it.

You can expect this — Jesus redeems and you are His special girl, and there is always enough grace to cover any and all mess-ups.  Keep on having a joyous Advent!