Pick One

pick one2

Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. Wash your hands; you have dirtied them in sin. Cleanse your heart, because your mind is split down the middle, your love for God on one side and selfish pursuits on the other.” James 4:8 The Voice

I remember reading this one day and feeling a heaviness on my heart. In the Amplified version it says “[realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery].” That is pretty intense. This verse really describes what it looks like to have one foot in the world and one foot with Jesus, still straddling two masters.  Matthew 6:24 says we can’t serve two masters.  We have to choose.

What does that choice look like? I think a lot of people don’t understand how much God loves us.  They think of Him as the Punisher or the Judge. And don’t get me wrong, He is those things too…But most of all He loves us.  Just like a parent has to discipline a child to teach them how to live safely and prosperously and develop in character, God does that with us too.  To teach us His ways.

As a Christian we get fooled into thinking that if we let go of the world’s ways that we will be missing out on something.  Well, we are.  We are missing out on the things that we were never designed to take.  God did not design us to take on worry, anxiety, stress, bitterness, rejection, hatred and all the other burdens that we carry in our hearts.  It makes our hearts hard and heavy and our minds neurotically hyper-vigilant. God never intended for us to live like that.

If we surrender to Him we can let go of all those things.  Just like a parent, He gives us guidelines to keep us safe in His care.  When we are in alignment with His “house rules” our heart has a chance to soften and heal.  Then we have a chance to truly experience the magnitude of His love.  It is a brighter and lighter way to live.  It goes beyond existence and becomes a dynamic experiential relationship with our Creator remembering that He loved us so much that He sent His own Son to die on the cross to mend the relationship gap between us.  There is no greater love than this.

Father, help me embrace a lifestyle that holds me in Your safekeeping. Help me be so comfortable in Your arms that others want to come there too.

Matthew 6:24, Psalm 25:4, John 15:13, Mark 12:30-32

bg-blogger-badge-500x500

Walk This Way

walk this way2

“15 Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people)…17 Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15, 17 AMP

The only way I can stay in a thoughtful, purposeful and wise pursuit of the will of the Lord is to stay in His word and in prayer.  Those two components are critical to keep me on track.  His word provides instruction and insight.  Prayer allows me to empty my heart to Him and allow the Holy Spirit to pour the heart of God into me.  Only then can I begin to walk the way this scripture describes.  I have to practice this every day.  It’s a commitment.  It has been a commitment that has and continues to transform my life.  It’s no different than working muscles to make sure they are fit and strong.  I have to exercise my Spirit woman to make sure she is fit for the daily sparring matches the world brings my way on a spiritual level.  I’m thankful for the daily workout and refreshment that God gives me in prayer.  I’m thankful that even on days when I know something is off but can’t put my finger on what’s wrong, the Holy Spirit can turn it all around.  All I have to do is surrender my heart.

Father, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide me every day.

John 7:38, Ephesians 5:19-20, Psalm 27:13-14

bg-blogger-badge-500x500

Get Ready For A Fight

get ready for a fight2

For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Deuteronomy 20:4 NIV

When I looked at this verse today I saw a few things I didn’t see before:

  • God goes with us to fight. This means:
    • We have to show up for the fight.
    • He goes with us.

This gave me pause to think about how to become ready for a fight. It requires faith.  We have to go into battle with a victory mindset – meaning we have an expectation of success and/or a triumph over an enemy.  In order to have that expectation we cannot allow doubt or unbelief to go with us into battle.  We have to make sure they are not taking up any real estate in our minds.  Doubt and unbelief create internal battles that distract us from the battlefield.

  • God goes with us against our enemies.

So, who are our enemies? Well, Galatians 5:19-21 has a pretty good list: corrupt sexual relationships, impurity, unbridled relationships, impurity, unbridled lust, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, arguing, jealousy, anger, selfishness, contentiousness, division, envy of others’ good fortune, drunkenness, and drunken revelry. This is a war against our flesh. Satan is a spiritual enemy that uses these things of the flesh in combat.

  • God gives us victory. We do not fight like the world does. God has given us tools to fight with:
    • We have divine power to demolish strongholds
    • We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God
    • Make every thought obedient to Christ

Father, thank you for going with me to fight for me against my enemies to give me victory.

Jeremiah 1:19, 1 Titus 6:12, Galatians 5:19-21, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

bg-blogger-badge-500x500

The Voice Behind Me

the voice behind me

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

Father, I thank you for this day. This is the day that the Lord has made for me and I will be glad! Thank you for the special touches that you are putting on this day. I invite You into today and all my activities. I pray that Your love will be a driving force; that I will feel and recognize Your voice in all I do today. I’m so thankful for Your hand in my life. Bless this home and all who come through it. Father I ask that Your presence reign here. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the gift of Your Son. Thank you for the provision and great care that you have provided for my family. I praise You! All praise be to You! My wonderful and powerful Father! Jehovah God! My Protector! Jehovah El! My Shepherd! Jehovah El Roi! Jehovah Rapha! Thank you for Your care and favor.  May each and every step I take be Your step as I walk in wonder of You. Amen.

Romans 8:2, John 10:26-27, Psalm 23:1

bg-blogger-badge-500x500

Faith In Action

faith in action

“So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).” James 2:17 AMP

Several years ago I really felt like God was calling me to write a piece on faith.  It was a relatively short piece that took me on an interesting journey.  What came out of a review of many scriptures was an outline that looked something like this:

  • Don’t look back
  • Eyes forward
  • Trust steadily in God
  • Hope unswervingly
  • Love extravagantly

Each area had a unique insight of its own in how it connected to the expression of faith.  There were several personal antidotes shared and many scriptures.

The scripture that really got hold of my heart was 1 Corinthians 13 in a new and different way.  It is historically referred to as the “Love Chapter.” However, what I began to see is that it also has all the components for a robust faith life.  My conclusion was this: without love we cannot walk in faith.  Love is the foundation for everything.  Just as faith requires a demonstration to be activated, love does as well.  We cannot operate in either one without interacting in community with others.

So my prayer is “Father help me to love like You believing that all things are possible, ALL THINGS are possible, with You.”

James 2:24, 26; Matthew 23:23, James 2:5, Philippians 4:6, 13

bg-blogger-badge-500x500

A New Fashion Statement

A new fashion statement

“12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:12-13 NIV

As I read these verses, I started to imagine putting each of these characteristics on as if they were articles of clothing.  A beautiful gown of compassion with a robe or jacket of kindness over it.  Gorgeous custom boots of humility.  Dazzling ear rings of gentleness and a necklace of patience.  Then my make-up would look flawless with a foundation of forgiveness.  I really had to sit with that for a while.  It sounded regal and beautiful in such a stately and timeless way.  It made me think of all the money I invest in clothes, shoes, the latest face creams and moisturizers.  Closets of clothes are all over my house!  But God’s garments are timeless, ageless classics.  They never go out of style and their beauty never fades.

Lord, help me dress in these beautiful characteristics that reflect You.  Help me wear each of them daily and with joy.  Thank you for teaching me a new way to dress for success!

Isaiah 61:10, Ephesians 1:7-8, Romans 5:5, Ephesians 2:10, Hebrews 12:3, 7, 10

bg-blogger-badge-500x500

Sufficient Grace

sufficient grace

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

I am so very thankful that God loves us so extravagantly.  Time in prayer, worship and meditation on His Word are treasures to me.  Sometimes I can sense Him touching my heart.  Sometimes it feels like a vibration.  Sometimes I know there is some healing going on because of a burning sensation.  Most recently I was experiencing some heart ache.  I sensed Him working there.  I turned my eyes to Him and gave my heart to Him for safe keeping.

He just wants me to give it all to Him.  I realize more and more that we are not equipped to carry around heavy emotional baggage.  That is not what He intended for us.  He always intended to bear the burden and never intended for us to be inflicted with pain.  That is such a comfort to me!  Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I know that it’s time to retreat to Him.  Simply release it all and find peace in His heart.

Father God, Your grace is sufficient for me.

Matthew 11:28-30, John 14:25-27, John 16:33

bg-blogger-badge-500x500

Tough Love

tough love2

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” Psalm 36:9 NIV

When I feel like I don’t know anything, God is the one thing that is true and constant.  Even during seasons of my life when I know there is a stripping going on of everything that is familiar to me – seasons of change. During those times it is critical for me to seek the Presence of God.  Stay in His life-giving love light.

We are made in God’s image.  He is not a sissy.  Jesus was God’s human image here on earth.  He was not a sissy.  Why do we think that as Christians we are off the hook?  We can’t be sissies either.  So here’s a new twist on God’s love.  God’s love is so pure that it is like acid.  It will literally melt away darkness.  For a visual, I sometimes go to that scene in the Wizard of Oz when the witch is melting from the bucket of water that was thrown on her.  Picture God’s love as Living Water.  It will not tolerate prejudice, injustice, mockery, spite, judging or comparison.  That is how powerful God’s love is.  It melts the darkness away.

As I yearn to love like God, it’s encouraging to know the power that brings.  It brings light into the darkness like nothing else can.  Now that my friend is tough love!

Lord, teach me to more fully appreciate Your power and might.

1 Peter 5:6-7, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 2 Chronicles 6:14-42

bg-blogger-badge-500x500

Holding Victory

holding victory

“He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,” Proverbs 2:7 NIV

There have been times in ministry that I knew something was off. I knew that it was time to pull back and sit with God. Refocus. Recalibrate. Restore, Refresh. Renew. During those times the outpouring of God’s love has been immense.  Truly an incredible comfort.  I love how He reads my heart.  He knows just how to touch it for healing, restoration, and transformation.  What a Mighty God!

As I was meditating on this scripture during one of those respites, I noticed that my prayers had become weak.  I was not coming directly to God with my requests.  They had become passive.  As I started to visualize Him as my shield with a face set like flint in pursuit of victory on my behalf, it made me more bold.  My prayer shifted.  I began to ask for what I wanted very specifically:

Father give me Your eyes to see all things. Give me Your ears to hear.  And give me Your heart to love in all things so that I may be a demonstration of Your love and glory on this earth.  Father You promise me that You hold victory in store for the upright and that You are a shield for the blameless.  I claim that promise.  I declare and decree that promise in Jesus Name, Amen.

1 Corinthians 1:19, 1 Corinthians 1:30, Colossians 2:2-3, Psalm 16:11

bg-blogger-badge-500x500

The Thief and The Shepherd

thief and shepherd

“10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:10-11 NASB

These verses are such a sharp contrast!  Verse 10 describes the thief that only takes what others have.  Verse 11 describes the shepherd that will give his own life for another.  I have used the words steal, kill and destroy as a litmus test to identify when darkness is operating in situations.  It has really helped me to avoid personal dynamics, engagements and circumstances that had the potential for trouble.  Sometimes it’s not always obvious.  I have to pay attention to subtle ways that things are being taken away.  It could be a conversation that subtracts from a person’s character.  It could be an activity that is draining me financially.  It could be a habit that starts to interfere with healthy practices.  By paying attention on a number of occasions , a small change has resulted in very significant benefits.  A simple contrast between what breathes life in versus what sucks life out has been an effective tool for me.

Interestingly enough, it has helped me pay just as much attention to life-giving things around me.  It might be a person in my life, a favorable situation, or an unexpected gift.  It’s nice to take the time to savor each one as a special treat from My Shepherd that takes such good care with me and wants only the very best for me!

Thank you Lord for showing me the difference between things that are life-giving and those that are not. Give me the wisdom to always choose life!

Psalm 34:4-5, John 17:26, Psalm 139:14, Matthew 7:6, James 4:15-17

bg-blogger-badge-500x500