“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23:12 NASB

Sometimes we want what we want when we want it. I know I do. On the surface everything may look good, even great! But when I pause and pray to ask God’s will, sometimes I hear His voice — that gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit — and it says “no.” There’s not a why or a reason. Just a simple “no.” Not even a “not now” which would be more palatable. So in that moment, what do I do? Do I rationalize and talk myself into the fact that I can’t possibly be hearing correctly? I can’t see any harm in this thing I want. How can I have heard “no?” How can that be right?

It might take me a few moments to sit with the dialogue a little longer and wait for my mind to quiet down again from all the internal dialogue (all my own dialogue by the way). I have to wait for my mind to quiet down from rationalization and justification. And then I hear the still, small voice again, “Do you trust Me?” It’s usually in that moment my heart melts a little. It’s such a gentle reminder that I don’t know everything. God does. I don’t know the big picture and how all the pieces fit together. God does. God is all knowing, all seeing, ever present, 100%perfect. If I truly accept all these things to be true, why do I trust myself more than God? Why do I spend so much time and energy looking for the “perfect” justification to do what I want to do? Because I’m fleshy. I’m no different than Adam and Eve. Same pitfalls of pride, greed, and jealousy. It is only in humility that I can lay all my fleshiness down at the cross and truly accept God’s voice. I have to crucify my flesh. I have to trust that God is so much bigger than my mind and heart can comprehend. I have to cling to that knowledge and believe. I have to choose.

Our fleshy issues are not new. God’s Word is full of strategies to combat the flesh. Two of my favorite characters in the Old Testament are Joshua and Caleb. I yearn to have a warrior heart and spirit like theirs. Joshua instituted a rigor of reflection, a time of accounting, for the children of Israel. It was a time reserved to recall the miraculous, God-sized ways that God had demonstrated Who He Is to them. This week I had a morning of accounting and appreciation for God-sized miracles in my own life. It was beautiful. It filled my heart with joy and love to remember each one. Then today I heard one of those hard to hear, truthful, Holy Spirit “no’s.” So here I am, faced with a choice. Do I really believe God’s perfect will for my life? Do I believe the Holy Sprit, the Comforter that Christ sent to make sure I am always cared for and tended to in the spirit? Do I choose to step forward in faith and grab hold of God’s “no” as fervently as I would His “yes?”

How about you?

Father, help us to always choose You.

Isaiah 55:8, Hebrews 11:6, 1 Corinthians 13:12, Hebrews 11:1, John 14:26


“1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:1-3 NIV

The image of John receiving this message from the angel of God is a powerful one. Wow. To see and hear from God like John – that would be incredible.

So what does it take to hear from God this clearly? Be still. I think we also have to know how much God loves us in order to fully trust what we hear.  It is critical for us to know how deep and how true He loves us.

We will be tested.  We will need to stand firm, stand firm in His life and His love.  We will be faced with ugliness. Darkness will be all around us.  In those times, the hard times, we need to trust God.  Trust His love for us.

Father, help me stand.  Help me simply stand firmly next to You. Hold my hand. Never leave me or forsake me.  I know You never will because You promised.

Ephesians 3:18, Psalm 46:10, Hebrews 2:18, Joshua 1:5


The Thief and The Shepherd

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“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


Do Right

“6 The Eternal is ready to share His wisdom with us, for His words bring true knowledge and insight;He has stored up the essentials of sound wisdom for those who do right; He acts as a shield for those who value integrity.” Proverbs 2:6-7 The Voice

I long to do right.  To value integrity. To bury God’s words so deep in my heart, immerse my heart in it, so that nothing comes out of my heart but Him.  I am so thankful for God’s Love and Grace and Mercy!  It is so rich and beautiful.  I am thankful for His guidance.

I pray that I can be a beacon of God’s Love for everyone.  I pray that His love will be palpable and fragrant and humble and gentle and kind in me.  That I can be a reflection of that Love.  I pray that I can learn how to live and walk and breathe by faith.

Luke 21:15, Ephesians 1:17-18, James 1:5, Psalms 19:8, Psalms 119:34


Shine Like The Stars

14 Do all things without complaining or bickering with each other, 15 so you will be found innocent and blameless; you are God’s children called to live without a single stain on your reputations among this perverted and crooked generation.  Shine like starts across the land.”  Philippians 2:14-15 The Voice

Our behavior is a demonstration of how we honor God.  It’s not about perfection.  It is about a demonstration of our love for our Father.  It’s not about performance.  It’s about our hearts desire to be like Him and operate in His ways.  It is a way to honor our Father.  When we take care not to give offense or take offense – to God, fellow Christians, or others – we honor His sanctification of our sin.

Father, help me to shine like the stars, so I can be a reflection of Your love!

Philippians 2:3, James 5:9, 1 Peter 4:9, Proverbs 13:10


You Are Light

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“8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord.Ephesians 5:8-10 NIV

There was a season in my life that I needed God’s intervention daily to instill His gifts of the Spirit in me.  It was not something visible to others, but I knew my heart needed a supernatural intervention.  I began to pray daily: “Father, give me a thirst for all things that are Godly.  Quench any thirst for things that are ungodly.”  As I prayed this daily I began to notice a transformation.  It was subtle at first:  TV programs, music, conversations, people in my life, things I cared about and chose to invest resources in.  It was truly amazing.  He answered my prayers and began to change my heart’s desires to line up with His.  He will answer your requests!

Father, thank you for Your faithfulness. Thank you for listening to every request of our heart and giving us what we need. I pray that You continually give me a thirst for all things of You! You are my Light and my Salvation.

Philippians 4:6, Ephesians 5:13, 15-17


Humility Means Letting Go

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1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3 NIV

I have found that my tendency toward self-sufficiency has been an obstacle to embracing humility. It caused me to hold on to things that I should have surrendered to God.  Those old habits had to be taken to God in prayer daily. It was easiest to start with those things that were precious to me or hard for me.  They were things I could only trust with God.  What I have come to understand is that everything is like that.  He wants it all – every detail, every jot and tittle.  He wants us to depend on Him totally.  That has simplified my life significantly. This simplicity is refreshing and light.  It makes life a joy.

Father, thank you for keeping things light and simple.  Thank you for always being there and accepting whatever I lay before You.  Thank you for Your undying love for me!

Psalm 149:4, Proverbs 15:33, Romans 8:28, Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 4:12-14, Matthew 10:29, Luke 12:7


Under Construction

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“3 … make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God! Every valley shall be lifted and filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked and uneven shall be made straight and level, and the rough places a plain.” Isaiah 40:3b-4 AMP

Picture a construction site: bulldozers, dump trucks, frontend loaders, construction crews.  The engineer has the plan that makes sense of it all.  The plan can take an area that seems impassable and rugged, transforming it.  It transforms an area full of obstacles into a main artery of activity.  God is our engineer that holds the vision and master plan.  When he clears the path: filling our valleys, making our mountains straight and level, and smoothing out our rough places — we don’t always understand that it is a period of construction.

Father, thank you for loving me so much that you made a way for me through Your Son Jesus. Thank you for removing every obstacle and making me into something new in You!

Matthew 17:20, 1 Corinthians 13:2


Our Heart: The Compass*

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“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 NIV

The most critical aspect of our spiritual life is our heart. I believe our heart is like a compass. A compass identifies where you are headed directionally. It establishes:
(1) where you are
(2) where you are in relationship to where you want to go
(3) how you get pointed in the right direction

Our hearts determine our direction spiritually in much the same way. If we cannot keep our hearts pointed to True North, we will be off in where we are heading. True North is God, our Heavenly Father. If our hearts are not aligned with Him, our maps will be distorted, wobbly, and stilted. By aligned, I mean understanding the magnificence of Our Father’s Love. It means we understand and identify with our identity in Christ. So, if you have not done that, I encourage you. Ask Him into your heart and you will find healing and restoration. It is the first step in establishing relationship with the Greatest Love you can ever know.

Father, guide my heart. Help me to always look to You first, my True North, before setting course for any destination. Thank you for your Great Love and the perfect design of my heart, mind, and spirit in Your image!

Acts 2:21, 38; John 1:12, Romans 8:21, Philippians 2:15 NIV

* excerpt of Spiritual Life Map: Finding the Compass