My Master

Embed from Getty Images “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24 NIV

This one has been ticklish for me. The world reinforces some very bad behavior that serves the world well.  The problem is that it doesn’t serve God. It’s everywhere.  The truth is, it wears me out.  I read this scripture during a particularly tiring week. In addition to the demands of the week, I was struggling between my old way of operating – performance oriented, self-sufficient, frantically rushing to meet deadlines — and God’s way – a more elegant flow that is thoughtful, intentional and efficient.

In the middle of my shame attack, I recognized a nudge.  I heard the words “Yes, you slip…but you catch it.” I paused for a moment to reflect.  I feel when things are off.  I really do try to tuck into God as a check point. The shame melted away.  I realized I had cause to celebrate! There had been a shift inside of me.  It had happened so subtly that it was not discernible to anyone watching.  The big shift was inside. It was in my heart.  My heart was searching for a better way.  There were now alerts that went off inside me when I began to toil and struggle.  That was my cue to check the rule book I was using.  A peace washed over me.  I am so thankful! I realized that God was pleased too. He knows my heart and my desires. I am the apple of His eye.

God, help me to be bold and courageous walking in Your ways.  Continue to nudge me as I grow and shift.  Thank you for the precious gift of the Holy Spirit as my comforter, guide and intercessor. Thank you for teaching me a new way! A kinder and gentler way of operating in You!

Proverbs 8:32, 23:26; Isaiah 55:8, Joshua 1:9, John 14:26

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Not Just For Them

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20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23 NIV

This prayer is a prayer for us. This blew me away when I understood it for the first time.  We are the ones who heard the message of Jesus Christ all these centuries later from the messages carried on through His disciples.  As Jesus was getting ready to face the most horrific of executions, here he was, interceding for us. This touches my heart so deeply.  What incredible love. He wanted us to have the relationship with God that He had. He wanted us all to be together again…even before we were born.

I have always heard the scriptures of God knowing us before we were “knit together in our mother’s womb” but this scripture made we realize very practically how much Jesus was a part of that picture too.  It made it very real for me.  It is right there in black and white.

Jesus, thank you  for Your unfathomable, unconditional love and sacrifice.  It humbles me to a point that words cannot express.

Ephesians 4:12-16; Colossians 2:2-4, 3:12-15, John 3:16

Fresh Words

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“Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29 The Voice

What are rotten words? Words that come out of anger, rage, malice, slander, fear and are filthy. Wicked.  Lies. Evil. Deception.

What are fresh words? Words full of grace, encouragement, truth, love, compassion, gentleness, humility and meekness. Wholesome. Beneficial. Confident. Even bold.

I have heard lots of sayings that allude to the proportion of time that we should speak versus listen.  As in, “We have two ears and two eyes and one mouth for a reason.  Use them proportionately!” I used to find this amusing but now I just recognize it as truth.  Our words have the power of life and death in them.

Some of the things that are associated in scripture with fresh words: life, keep from trouble, sweet like honey, hope, wisdom, peace, love, instruction, healing, love life and to see good days. What we speak has the power to build someone up or tear them down.

Lord, do not let even one rotten word seep out of my mouth. I pray that my words will be Your words spoken in love.

Colossians 3:8, 4:6; Ephesians 4:29, Proverbs 15:4, 18:21, 19:5, 21:23

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Party On!

Dog with Birthday Hat and Balloons

1 “Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,  praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.        
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” Psalm 150 NIV

I love music. And dancing.  I love singing.  I love listening especially to live music and savor the talent of the musician.  Worship requires participation.  Engagement.  It may look different for each individual but there is no way we can worship without engaging with God.  Worship requires relationship.  When we engage with Him, He engages with us! We get a taste of what once was in the Garden and what is yet to come in heaven. So, I want to get this party started each and every day!  I want a piece of heaven now!

Praise God!  I praise You Lord with every ounce of my being, with all that I have.  If it’s my voice, let me sing for you.  If it’s my body, let me dance for You. If it’s talent, let me use it for You!

Psalm 149, Psalm 29:9, Psalm 134:2

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Hope

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“the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11

Hope: noun. A longing; dream.

Similar words:  Achievement     Ambition     Anticipation     Aspiration     Belief     Concern     Confidence     Desire     Expectation     Faith     Goal     Optimism     Promise     Wish

These are weighty words.  Do I feel confident placing all of them with God?  Do I trust that He loves me so much that He wants the best for me in every word listed?  What about my achievements? My ambitions?  My concerns?  My desires?

Well then do I believe His promises to me?  Can I take God at His Word?

These are big questions, but the answer is even bigger.  The answer is YES.  We can.  We can place every single one of these big words at the feet of Jesus.  God knows we are not equipped to handle that long list and the pressure, stress and anxiety that goes with it.  If we can release it all to Him as He intended and believe with all our heart that He loves us more than we can imagine, then we find comfort. We find our inheritance as a child of God. Our thirst is quenched.  We find mercy. We see God. We find peace.  We find the kingdom of heaven.

Lord, thank you for instilling hope in my heart. A hope to dream and reach for the very best that You have for me!

Psalm 147, Matthew 5:1-12; Hebrews 10:23

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Dig Deeply

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“Explore me, O God, and know the real me. Dig deeply and discover who I am. Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain. Psalm 139:23 The Voice

This is a cry for intimacy.  When we share intimate space with someone, we get to know the good, the bad and the ugly (and of course there is a preponderance of beauty as well!).  The bottom line is there can be no secrets.  Nothing can be hidden. There is no room for it.

I love The Voice version because you can hear the pain in this cry “Dig deeply…Put me to the test…watch how I handle the strain.” So when this happens, we get at the truth of the matter. So here is what was uncovered for me: anxiety, doubt, worry, fear of man, unhealthy connection to people, performance, rejection and fear.

This made me so angry!  It was a list I was familiar with.  I was so tired of the same list popping up time and time again. After a growl, I asked the Lord to deliver me.  I was done with it.  I prayed in the Spirit for thirty minutes because I didn’t trust my own heart to get at the ugly stuff that seemed to be hanging around.  There was a shift!  My heart was lighter. My mind was clearer. I had more energy. It was amazing.  I’ve heard testimonies and sermons about praying in the Spirit but this application was even more validating and faith building. Cool. God gives us all the instructions and the tools.  We just have to use them.

Lord, thank you for every piece of instruction and tool You have provided. I pray i exercise them all to the fullest!

Psalm 139, John 14:26

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Practice

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“28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

I am learning that God does not want us to walk in fear. He wants us to have fun and enjoy life! It was not His intention for us to be hampered or burdened by putting too much stock in the things of this world.  He loves to watch us operate in our gifts and talents. That’s how he made us!

I have had concerns about old patterns at times.  Sometimes operating in a new way feels unfamiliar and awkward.  I can’t build new patterns without practice. So, I look at it as exercise.  I am simply practicing my faith in a new environment.  I have to trust God.  Let go of myself and any self-consciousness. I have to let go of perfection.  I know that He would rather I take a step and fall, trusting in Him, than stand in a corner in fear.

Father, give me the boldness, confidence, courage and wisdom to continually take another step closer to You.

John 6:37, 7:37-38

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