Featured

How Is Your Wait?

Photo by Georgia Pointer

“And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.” Hebrews 6:15

Waiting is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, but it is part of what it means to be a servant of God. Because your life is hidden in Christ, His agenda is what matters most. Because His agenda takes precedence over your own, waiting for His timing is as common as flour is for a baker. God has the arial view, if you will, and you can only see from where you are on the ground. Waiting is wisdom, My Friend. You would not want to rush what God is up to in your life or the lives of those for whom you have been praying. If the Almighty is not in a hurry, who are you and I to be in one? Ask the Lord to give you His perspective so that you can experience the peace that is also a part of being a servant of God. Determine not to be like the child for whom everything must happen right now. Exercise child-like faith that your Divine Parent knows what is best and that you can trust Him by choosing to be patient.

I believe that faith makes the Father smile. Because it is impossible to please Him without it (Hebrews 11:6) you and I can be confident of His pleasure when we put it into practice. So, how is your wait, My Friend? Is the Father finding pleasure in your behavior in your waiting season? I can assure you mine is not what it needs to be. I am learning that patience is in my best interest because it brings about the rest I am always asking God to give me—the growth too. Patience helps me slow down enough to savor where I am right now, whatever that season may be. It enables me to devote the needed attention to whatever God has placed in my hand at the moment instead of straining to get where I think I want to be. I also have to keep telling myself that if I choose to do today well, I will be ready for the day I have been longing for when it comes.

Pray with me: Father, forgive me for my impatience. Help me to trust You and to remember anew that You are in control and that this is all I need to know. Help me to be faithful in what You have for me to do right now knowing it is every bit as important as the thing I think I would rather be doing. Thank you that by your Spirit, I already possess the patience I need. Give me grace to allow its release in my life so that I can be pleasing to You in my waiting season. Amen.

Featured

Aim High!

“He did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father; he did according to all that Joash his father had done. ” 2 Kings 14:3

In some cases, it’s ok to be mediocre. No one can be the best at everything and some things are not important enough to deserve our energy and time.

Other things, however, mean so much that they deserve our utmost.

I speak specifically to your heart toward God. Today’s verse gives a chilling description of the heart of King Amaziah. At first it sounds like he was getting a glowing review: he did right in the sight of God. The description quickly darkens when it says he didn’t do right like his ancestor David, a man after God’s own heart. King Amaziah was satisfied being “good enough”.

Call me an overachiever, but I want to do more than just get by in my walk with God. I want to be a woman after God’s own heart. I don’t want there to be any area of my life that I am satisfied with the bronze or tin when the gold of knowing God deeper is available by His grace.

How about you?

When we start talking about being pleasing to God, the mind automatically looks at the mountain of times we failed before, but that’s not where we should focus. We must focus on the power God offers to help us persevere and overcome. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

It begins with repentance and surrender. Are there morals you have let slip? Have you given up striving to hear Him say, “well done” because it seems nobody else is trying? The benefits of following hard after God far outweigh the “pleasures” of mediocrity. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

The cross was God’s way of reaching low to save us. Our best response is to aim high in pleasing Him.

The Perfect Fit

Photo by Mary Beth Yates

“The greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13b

The love of God is one size fits all. There is no situation in which God’s love is inappropriate. Sometimes that love holds you when you are broken. That same love will tell you when you are wrong and how to get right.

The world thinks Christianity is good for some and not quite right for others. If that was the case, Jesus would have said He only came for those who were a good fit. Instead, He used words like “ all” (Matthew 11:28) and “whoever” (John 3:16). Love, real love, never leaves anyone out. Jesus loved Judas like he did all the other disciples. He loved Peter with his big mouth as well as he did Thomas with his silly doubts. The love of God has room for everyone.

As you look at your faults and struggles and throw up your hands in frustration because you should be farther along by now, remember God’s love. Its arms are big enough to fit around all your failures and deep enough to heal your deepest pain. He owns the patent on that kind of love so forget trying to find it anywhere else, my friend.

You are worthy of this kind of love because God says you are. Instead of running from it, slow down and let it catch you. Better yet, crawl into its lap and lean into it. You’ll discover it is brimming with grace and provision and anything else you need. It is the perfect fit.

Start and Keep Going!

Photo by Beth Bardhan

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1c (NIV)

If I had a religion that could be lost, I would no doubt have lost it yesterday! How? Putting up a new window shade. It was every bit the horrible, frustrating experience I knew it would be. The screws would not go all the way into the window frame. I kept dropping screws and the little thingies that go into the ends of the shade, so I was up and down the ladder, sweating and searching. Grrr! Of course I put the thingies in wrong and had to switch them but not before dropping them behind the table and having to crawl under there to retrieve them. One thought kept coming to mind, though: “I have no choice but to see this through if I want to enjoy the beauty and convenience of having the shade over this window.”

I could have quit in frustration, but that would only prolong getting what I wanted. The same is true for you, my friend. You have dreams and goals that you want so bad, but you know it won’t be easy, so you put it off. None of us is getting any younger. How long will you hedge? It is time to get started. It is time to decide you are going to win. You already know it’s not going to be easy, but so what? You can never finish if you don’t start. The reward will be worth all the trouble you know is coming. Go ahead and make up your mind that you will start and keep going no matter what. You don’t have to have it all together before you start. Do not think about all the other times you started and failed. This time can be different if you decide it will be so. I am so proud of my beautiful window shade. It was worth all the aggravation. You will be proud of yourself when you push through and get your thing done. You know I’m right. Happy starting. Happy hanging-in-there!

When Someone Insults You

Photo by Amy Rhodes

“Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.” 1Peter 3:9 (NLT)

When someone insults you, the last thing you want to do is to bless them, but that is what Christ calls you to do, my friend. The apostle Peter wrote to followers of Christ who were persecuted for their faith. He instructed them to keep a tender heart and a humble attitude (1Peter 3:8). He charged them not to take revenge, but instead to bless their persecutors.

Is this counterintuitive or what? Everything in us wants to beat our insulters, not bless them. Those words of retaliation can hardly wait until the other person stops talking to run out of our lips and land where it hurts them. We worry about our reputation if the insult happens in front of other people. We do not want to appear weak. Repaying evil for evil is not hard; blessing instead of berating is.

Be encouraged my friend. God never gives you an impossible task without making it possible by HIs Spirit. You can do all things through Christ Who gives you strength, and this includes controlling your “get even” muscle (Philippians 4:13). You have the mind of Christ which means you can think with the thoughts of Christ toward your enemies (1 Corinthians 2:16). You can love them with the same love God showed you when you were His enemy. It’s supernatural, and you have the key to heaven’s storehouse of strength for the task. Ask God now to give you what you will need. Pray that your love for God will be stronger than your dislike for your enemy. You are not on trial when someone insults you, your faith is. God wants to use you to show the people around you what it looks like to follow Christ in hard times. It is the assignment of every believer. How do you bless the one who insulted you? Jesus said to pray for them (Luke 6:28). God will show you how else to bless them.

The reward will be worth the difficulty, my friend. You will receive a blessing when you obey God in this way. The smile of God is sweeter than any revenge. You also already know that God is a Master at blessing, and you will not want to miss out on what He has hidden behind His back for your sweet obedience in the face of bitter insult.

You Will Be Alright

Photo by Georgia Pointer

“…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b

Are you going through a storm, my friend? It is hard to see to the other side when the storm is dark. You may know in your head things will be alright, but when your heart is hurting, a better day can seem unimaginable.

This is the time to call out into the darkness and then listen for the assuring voice of God to call back to you! You may have to linger in your prayer closet a little longer than usual, but it will come. Keep your heart’s ears open for that still, small voice. You will hear it. He is faithful. Cry if you must, but don’t give up.

Your present hard place will become a platform of praise. Those tears will dry and your song will return, mingled with new notes that only those who persevere can sing. God is up to something good, my friend. Don’t let go until He blesses You with the stronger faith you’ve been asking for. Somebody in your future is going to need to hear your song of deliverance. Don’t let it die before it’s born.

Just As He Said!

Photo by Amy Rhodes

“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” Matthew 28:6

Have you ever caught God in a lie? Ever? He said He would be with Moses to deliver the people out of bondage, and He did it JUST AS HE SAID!

He told Abraham He would give him a son through his old body and that of his old and infertile wife, and He did it JUST AS HE SAID!

He told scaredy cat Gideon he would be with him as he defeated the Midianites, and it happened JUST AS HE SAID!

Jesus told His disciples He would be crucified and then raised again on the third day. It happened, JUST. AS. HE. SAID.

What more do you need, my friend? If He said it, He will do it.

As you celebrate the glorious resurrection today, may your heart be newly encouraged to believe everything else Jesus has told you about everything! His track record leaves no room for doubt.

Even Now

Photo by Georgia Pointer

“Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.” Mark 15:43

I have empathy for people who struggle with fear. It haunted my existence for years and even now, it tries to rethrone itself. Joseph of Arimathea struggled with fear too, and yet he is an important part of the resurrection story. As a secret follower of Jesus, Joseph summoned the courage to ask the authorities for the body of Christ. Having secured a burial plan for himself, he let the Savior borrow the tomb; consequently, the miracle of the resurrection had an address.

You do not have to have it all together for God to use you, my friend. We are all works in progress. God’s entire pool of human resources is flawed, but if you have a surrendered heart, you are a candidate for fruitfulness. Rejoice that while you are working to become a butterfly, even now, God has great use for you as a pupa.

Foot-washing 101

Photo by Judy Sumrall

When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, does it occur to you that he could identify each disciple just by looking at their feet? Before each of them were born, He decided if their pinky toe would be stubby or if their arch would be elongated or flat. Even more, He already knew that Peter’s feet would run in desertion and that Judas’s would dangle when he hung himself. Christ washed the the feet of each disciple knowing He would not get a perfect return on His investment in them. He taught them the vulnerability of service.

It is human to want to reap abundance from every seed you plant. How wonderful it would be if every soul you shared the gospel with eventually, if not immediately, came to Christ. If you focus on what you have to lose, you will die of discouragement, hoard your gifts, or live going crazy. Just as Christ washed the disciples’ feet with full knowledge that He could suffer loss, you and I must serve knowing we risk much, but gain more.

When You Have Been Betrayed

Photo by Amy Rhodes

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1: 2-3

My first memory of betrayal happened in fifth grade when a close friend told a boy that I had a crush on him. I could not believe she broke her promise to keep my secret. I recall she acted like it was no big deal which made things worse.

Jesus was betrayed by a kiss from Judas, and I am inspired by the way the Savior responded. He kept his emotions in check by looking beyond the betrayal to what it meant for you and me. He voiced that He had more than twelve legions on standby, but those angels would never get that call to come rescue Jesus. Christ kept referring to the fulfillment of the Scriptures. The suffering of betrayal plus the cruel cross were all part of a divine plan. He knew this betrayal had beauty lurking beneath it.

Though it is not a popular truth, suffering and sometimes betrayal are part of the Christian life. Hard times are the kiln for creating something beautiful within us. We are not to act as though something strange is happening when trouble comes our way (1Peter 4:12). Jesus warned it has an appointment for our doorstep (John 16:33). When it comes, don’t ask, “Why me?” Ask, “How can I experience victory in this hard season? Lord, show yourself strong on my behalf so that You receive glory.”

I know it’s a challenge, but through Christ you are already more than a conqueror, my friend. If you cooperate with God, you can turn the devil’s ugly stumbling block into a beautiful gemstone of Christian maturity. The Lord can distract you from getting even to growing internally; from self-pity to purpose-driven productivity. You don’t have time for bitterness when you choose to focus on betterment and building the kingdom of God.

Forgive your betrayer as Christ forgives you and keep going. Keep growing. Surrender to God’s work of creating Christlike beauty for the ashes of betrayal.