God’s Love

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“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16 NIV

God’s love is perfect.  It’s constant.  Unconditional. It’s healing.  It’s risky!  It’s brave and courageous.  It’s bold.  Francis Chan calls it “Crazy Love.” It reaches beyond logic. It’s undeserved. It sometimes makes no sense at all.

I believe that is why we have such a hard time grasping it.  Love has become so conditional and so perverted that it is hard for us to grasp real, genuine love.

I really have to stay in God’s Word to try to grasp His love and operate in it.  All good things are not God things.  Sometimes good things can come from an unhealthy place. Even toxic.  Sometimes distance is loving rather than smothering someone in codependence or dependence.

God, help me trust You and rely on Your love.

1 John 4:8, Colossians 3:14, 1 John 4:18, Psalm 23, 1 Corinthians 13

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Peace in Integrity

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“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9 NIV

As I studied this scripture and read some of the commentaries, they gave me insight.  I had never realized the peace that comes with integrity.  It makes sense.  When you are at peace there is a quiet confidence and boldness that accompanies your decisions and your heart.  It’s steady and straight forward.

When my daughter was little there was a children’s series called “Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events.”  It seems that the Beaudelaire orphans’ cousin, Count Olaf, was always concocting wild schemes to embezzle the children’s inheritance.  In some ways I see Satan as Count Olaf.  His intentions are filled with a desire to rob us of what is rightfully ours.  If we go chasing after all of his distractions and “crooked paths” we are very likely to meet a “series of unfortunate events!”

If we stay tucked into a path of integrity, we are divinely protected and stand on a firm foundation.  It will not be flighty or filled with misadventures. It will be a life lived confidently with a clear conscience and vision.  No matter what is happening around us, we can find comfort and peace in knowing and living by what is just and right and true.

Isaiah 32:17, 33:15-16, Ecclesiastes 12:9-14, John 14:6

Perspective

10277668_737304896307142_5352710873181859282_n                                                                                                                                                  “They (angels of God) will lift you up in His hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:12 NIV

I saw a recent post from mybible.com on a picture of a beautiful night sky full of stars and milky way-like swirls of clouds.  It read “I made all of this out of nothing.  Trust me, I can take care of you.” I love how this puts things in perspective.

Sometimes I get caught up in thinking that I need to get involved in something to “help” someone out.  Or I need to take responsibility for another person to “help out.” Or I need to reach out to see if someone needs me to “help them out.”  I have come to realize that is a messed up way to think!  God is a lot bigger than I am.  He doesn’t need my “help.” He’s got everything covered.  Sometimes I just need to get out of the way. As long as I am toiling away, I miss the great opportunity to see God show off!

God, thank you for Your great care and the great plans that you have for me.  Help me to watch for You and follow Your lead. Open my eyes to see the wonder of who You are!

Psalm 91:10-13, 1 Corinthians 1:5,7; Exodus 3:14, 6:2

Approval

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“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people?If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 NIV

This was a tough one for me.  For so long I was so broken and I saw so little value in myself that the only way I felt valuable was if I made someone else feel good.  It was often interpreted as having a heart for service.  In reality, I was so uncomfortable with myself that I tried to earn approval through service.

I was often elevated to a leadership role quickly because of my administrative talents.  Others were more than willing to quickly offload administrative responsibilities to me.  It appeared easy and effortless for me.  However, for me, it was an easy way to hide and not deal with my own issues.

I came to a place with God where I couldn’t play church any longer.  He shut down every channel I pursued and then finally called me into a period of being still.  During that time God began to deal with my heart.  It was a deepening of my reliance on Him to take care of my heart instead of a counterfeit fix. It was an intimate encounter.  It was like heart surgery.  Some old dead parts were removed, others were restored and there was some rebirth too.

On the other side of it was freedom.  More boldness.  I became sturdier and more confident in my relationship with God.

God, show me where I rely on others for approval instead of you.  Show me how to depend on You for approval and no one else.

2 Corinthians 12:19, 1 Thessalonians 2:4

New Beginnings

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“But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” Ruth 1:16 NKJV

Ruth exemplified the six D’s of new beginnings, making all things new:

Determination: “Entreat me not to leave you”

Direction: “for wherever you go, I will go”

Dependence: “wherever you lodge, I will lodge”

Desire: “your people shall be my people”

Devotion: “your God shall be my God”

And finally, the sixth D which is in Ruth 1:17:

Dedication: “where you will die, I will die and there will I be buried”

The story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz is beautiful.  However, the life Ruth chose was not for the faint of heart.  God’s hand of protection was on both Naomi and Ruth as they returned to Naomi’s homeland.  Ruth honored her mother-in-law and her wisdom.  While Ruth captured the favor of Boaz, her yielding to Naomi’s wisdom is what positioned her in the right place at the right time according to custom.

As we look at new beginnings, there is a yielding.  Yielding of our will to God’s will.  Yielding of our desires to God. Yielding of our flesh to our spirit.

God, teach me how to yield.

The book of Ruth, Revelation 21:5

Prosper

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

We were made to create. We were made to succeed.  So what does prosper really mean? If I look it up in a dictionary, it says to be successful, to thrive or to flourish.  I would argue that as Christians it is so much more than that.  It is an incredible level of abundance that we very seldom tap into.  Well, I guess I can only speak for myself.  Maybe some of you have already figured this out!

For me, the key is less of me and more of God.  What I mean is that with complete surrender, there is a flow of blessings and abundance that occurs.  They simply wash over us. It’s not because of anything we’ve done, anything we’ve worked for, or anything that we deserve.  It can be anything from deep caring and kindnesses from others to a big fat check you get in the mail.  They come when you least expect them AND when you need them most.  In the midst of it God is also apparent.  It is so clear that no one can orchestrate what happens.  It’s bigger than you or I.  It is simply divine intervention and blessing.

It is a way of life that I want to walk in more fully.  I want to be as confident as the birds of the air that my Father will provide.  I want to move instinctively where He wants me to be. I want to ride the wave!

Father, teach me to operate in the flow of Your blessings more fully each day.

Jeremiah 29:11-12, Hebrews 11:1, Matthew 6:26

What You Owe

“Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Romans 13:7 NIV

When I read this verse today, I realized it’s not just talking about taxes and debt.  In addition to debts, bills, taxes, etc. it’s also talking about profit, respect and honor.  So I started to reflect.  I had to pause and think if I had ever been in a business dealing with someone and not shared the profit or credit with another that I should have?  I also had to pause and think about if I have ever withheld respect or honor from another person that I shouldn’t have?

Over the course of my lifetime, I have had many people offer a helping hand.  I am embarrassed to say that I have not recognized or fully appreciated every single one of them.  Some of them are gone now and I can’t say a proper thank you or show them my appreciation.  Some of them still have family members that I can share the respect and honor that I have for their late mother, father, sister or brother.  I say this because I believe it’s never too late.

My mom has been gone 23 years now.  It’s so hard for me to believe.  Some of the most precious things I receive now are stories about her that I haven’t heard before.  A dear friend’s little brother shared the most touching story with me about my mom.  It was like a precious jewel to read as he shared how she had befriended him as a child in Sunday school.

Father, help me share all the profit, credit, respect and honor that are due those who have helped me along the way.  Show me the ways that I can share with their loved ones if they are gone.  More than anything Father, please help me share with Your heart and Your spirit in all things, withholding nothing.

Luke 12:29-31, Mathew 7:1-2