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Illumination

Who doesn’t love the bright morning sun on a clear crisp autumn day! The rays of sunshine illuminating the colored leaves of red, orange, and gold with an intense blue sky for a backdrop. Even on a cool fall day, the warmth of the sun heals the body and lifts our countenance. 

The beauty found in God’s creation is a reminder of the Creator himself. The way the light dances and sparkles amongst the autumn leaves brings to mind the Bible verse found in John 8:12 when Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

In Luke 11:34-35 we are told, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” Jesus Christ is the only way to fill our hearts, minds, and lives with the Light of life. Only through redemption in Christ, can our body be filled with the gift of Light. In John 14:6, “Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Once we accept the gift of salvation, His Light shines through us. This is life changing now, and for all eternity to come! 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

When someone is walking closely with Christ, there is something attractively different about them. They offer the hope of Jesus and walk confidently, with a sense of peace, even in the midst of turmoil. Being led by the Holy Spirit, and abiding in Him, they share God’s truth in word and deed. They are intentional, putting others before themselves. They are warm and welcoming, and people feel loved upon after an interaction with them.

Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” As light illuminates leaves on an autumn day, bringing beauty and brilliance to its onlookers, so can we. When we have the Light that comes from a relationship with Jesus, others should see that. Psalm 18:28 says, “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Praise the Lord for His wonderful Light!

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” Luke 11:34-35

“Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28

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Living Water

The water was serene and still, resembling a giant glistening sheet of glass. The sky, a steel stormy grey with clouds of pink and purple, was lined in gold by the rays of the setting sun. As gorgeous as it was, there was something strikingly odd about this place. 

The lake’s shoreline was dotted with run down homes, dilapidated piers, abandoned boats, and empty store fronts. Clearlake, the largest freshwater lake in California, once a booming resort area and popular vacation destination, is now polluted with mercury from a nearby mine, compounded by blue green algae, and toxins, making it unsafe to swim or recreate in. From a distance the lake looked beautiful and inviting, but, in actuality, it had become unsafe and filled with dangerous poisons. What a waste of God’s beautiful creation!

The Bible tells us that we are also God’s beautiful creation. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Hebrews 12:14 exhorts us to, Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” We may look like we have it all together on the outside but, what is the condition of our heart?

We, as servants of the Lord, are to be pouring out God’s love and goodness on those lives we touch. If we are polluted, those toxins will have a negative effect on our relationships, and also hinder our witness and testimony of the Lord in our lives. Thankfully, through Christ, we have a way to be made new once again.

Jesus can cleanse us from our filth and give us a healthy new heart. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” He is Living Water to our thirsty soul. In John 7:37-38, Jesus tells us, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. For the Scriptures declare, rivers of living water will flow from the heart of anyone who believes in me.” 

Clearlake, once a thriving resort community, became a dangerously unhealthy body of water, resulting in an abandoned vacation destination. Our hearts, too, can become toxic, resulting in unhealthy relationships. But, through seeking repentance in Jesus, we can be cleansed and made new again. So, be encouraged my friend in the hope we have in a relationship with Jesus Christ. All is not lost. Our hope is found in Him! Proverbs 27:19 tells us, “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” Let’s be the beautiful creation God designed us to be!

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” -Ephesians 2:10

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” -Hebrews 12:14

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:9

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. For the Scriptures declare, rivers of living water will flow from the heart of anyone who believes in me.” -John 7:37-38

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” -Proverbs 27:19

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No Matter What

A friend of mine uses the phrase, “It doesn’t matter.” At first I thought it some sort of cop out. But, the more I thought it through, the more it began to resonate within me, and, I realized, she actually had a very good point.

Keeping a healthy perspective in life is important. When we have an issue, challenge, or concern, and we take it to the Lord in prayer, we are essentially laying it down on the alter. As a result, we can walk in faith, peace, and surrender. Trusting the Lord for His will and way, we are confident, no matter what the outcome may be, it will ultimately be okay. He wants the very best for us. It becomes a faith walk, knowing that our Abba Father is looking out for our interests. He knows our hearts, and hears our prayers. He considers all aspects and orchestrates all things to work for our good and to bless us, all the while growing and stretching us to teach us the exact lesson we need to learn through each and every trial.

When we don’t understand the Lord’s ways and they aren’t what we think we want or need, it is a choice to rest in Him. Psalm 62:1 tells us, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” As you endure the trials of life, and surrender the outcomes to the Lord, remember that He does indeed have your best interest in mind. No matter what, He has you. I have heard it said, that every believer in Christ is either getting ready to enter into a trial, is in the midst of one, or is wrapping one up! And so the cycle will continue, until we are received into glory with our Lord and Savior.

As we trust in Him, He fills us with His love and peace. Whether it be with hands raised high in victory, in moments of sadness, or even feelings of defeat, praise the Lord in all circumstances. “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” Psalm 145:3

When we fully commit our concerns to the Lord, praying for His will, He is always faithful to answer our prayers in His perfect way and timing. So, no matter what, it will be well with our soul. Our Father knows best!🙌🏻❤️🙌🏻❤️

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” -Psalm 62:1

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. -Philippians 4:4

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” -Psalm 145:3

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Master

High up in a bucket truck, my son towered over the roof of the house. As he trimmed the tree, something below caught his eye. It was his German Shepherd. Ever so loyal, she was watching his every move. Longing to be with her master, she had climbed straight up a ladder onto the roof, in order to follow him. Pups are wired to follow their masters, wherever they may go.

How this German Shepherd climbed up the ladder is beyond me, but she was so driven in her pursuit, that it didn’t hinder her. Dogs are so faithful. To quote author Roger Caras, “Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps.”

Are we wholly devoted to following the Lord, our Master, with our absolute all? Is God the center of our universe? Is He the focus of our love and faith and trust? Are we serving Him with our lives? Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus laid down His life for us, that all who accept the gift of His salvation would have eternal life.

In Luke 9:23, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” We, too, are wired to follow our Master, the God of the heavens and the earth, the Creator of all things. So keep your focus on the Lord, stay as close to Him as possible, keep climbing the ladder he has set before you, and follow Him wherever He leads you! 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~Romans 5:8

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” ~Luke 9:23

“He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever.” ~Psalm 146:6

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Breakthrough!

Every spring I look forward to the blossom of the gorgeous orange tiger lily! When I see the buds hanging down among the fresh greenery, I get excited about what is to come. It takes weeks from the time I first see the buds, until there are blossoms. During that time, with each trail run, I anticipate the day that I round that turn, and see that burst of brilliance. For what a sight it is to behold. Such beauty! When I see the beauty of the blossom I have been waiting for, it reminds me of how we wait upon the Lord for breakthroughs in our lives. 

Have you endured a hardship in life? If you have suffered a loss, had health challenges, an addiction, been in an abusive relationship, or what have you that jolted or broke you, be encouraged in the hope of healing found in and through a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Jesus is the Bridge to a relationship with God. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”He is our Savior. The One who heals. He is Rescuer, Redeemer, Restorer, and Renewer of our souls. He is our Advocate, Counselor, and Great Physician. He is Rest for the weary. He gives us strength when we think we have none. He heals all the broken places in our hearts, minds, and bodies. He makes us whole.

Whatever your hurt, disappointment, or challenge may be, I encourage you to bring it to the feet of Jesus and lay it down. Give yourself and your problems fully to Him. Let go of the burden and walk in the freedom Jesus Christ offers. He is always available, always near to the brokenhearted. Be of a contrite spirit and forgiving of others, and He will forgive your sins. Ask of Him, as He is always ready to ease your pain, release you of what binds you, and set you free. So may we be steadfast in prayer and, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

As you walk closely with Jesus, fresh growth and buds of new life will begin to form within you. And as you prayerfully seek the Lord and wait upon Him, you will begin to anticipate that blossom, waiting for that move of God. Then, one day, to your surprise, it will happen. You will round that corner and you will see that burst of brilliance in your life! That BREAKTHROUGH you have been waiting for! It will be a beautiful sight and moment to behold, and your life will never be the same. Praise the Lord!

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”-Psalm 34:18

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” -Matthew 6:14

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Shine Brightly

With leaves green and lush, the sunflower stands tall. In a burst, it opens with seeds of pure joy! This flower is bright and cheery, like an ear-to-ear grin on a smiling face. Its pristine leaves become a perch and a tasty treat for the tiny yellow-bellied warbler. It is a beautiful sight to see this feathered friend happily perched upon the sunflower. As time goes on, the leaves become tattered and torn where the little bird has rested and renewed its strength. Even then the flower is radiant with ever present bliss, its head held strong and high. With only a few leaves left, the warbler again makes a visit. Standing firm, although tattered and worn, providing for its guest, the sunflower still shines brightly.

When we look at God’s creation, the sunflower, we can be reminded of what a great example the sunflower is. It stands tall, shines brightly, and gives all its got. It is that simple! “Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

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Enjoy the Season

Spring had officially sprung! The grass was a lush green, flowers were in full bloom, the clear morning sky held the promise of the warmth of the sun, and the beauty of the season that promised new life was in full force. In the midst of it all, stood a tall oak tree. A gentle breeze created the feeling that autumn was in the air, as the dried brown leaves softly drifted down and littered the ground. The oak was beautiful all the same, standing so strong, tall, and majestic. I thought to myself, Why was this tree only just now dropping its leaves when all the surrounding trees were budding with fresh new growth? 

The tree seemed to be out of season, in comparison to the others standing in its midst. Seeing that spring ushers in budding, blossoming, and new life, it didn’t seem to be doing as well, and it appeared to be off in its cycle of growth. But in actuality, this tree was right where it needed to be in terms of seasonal growth and right on track with it dropping its leaves in the spring, even though most trees experience this months earlier. The tree was healthy and thriving in its own way and timing, according to its original design by its Maker, the God of all creation!

It is easy to fall into the trap of comparison in our own lives too. If you feel out of season right now, instead of getting frustrated or down on yourself, I encourage you to savor the season. Accept yourself, and where you currently are in life. Seek to continue to grow and blossom, by learning something about yourself, and what the Lord is teaching you. See the beauty in the day, and enjoy the time you have been gifted. All things are passing by, nothing stays the same forever. Life is a precious gift from our Creator.

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Hold On

Our tree stood tall, magnificent, and beautiful in the living room. Only the day before, the kids and grand baby had been ripping open Christmas gifts with childish giddy and excitement, in my cute cozy forest home. To my surprise, the following night a storm set in with an unusual amount of snowfall for our area. It was about 12:30am when the house shook and I awoke to a loud mysterious SWOOSH outside. 

A gigantic oak tree had fallen and swallowed up our entire backyard, smashing everything in its path, and stopping just short of the house. The next morning revealed snapped power poles, downed lines, and fallen trees across the snowy roads. Seeing we had no power and no heat, I packed the things that were truly important to me, loaded the car, and drove away. In the back of my head was the idea of possibly never even returning.

When life gets us down, sometimes it seems the easy thing to do is just walk away from a difficult situation. You know, to just throw up our hands. To leave. To start fresh somewhere. To start over. To seek those greener pastures on the other side of the fence somewhere. 

BUT GOD. His Word teaches us not to quit, but to persevere. In spite of life’s curveballs, we are to push forward with the strength we find in a relationship in Christ. Philippians 3:13-14 tells us, “…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” It is He that gives us the ability to keep going when we just want to walk away from a challenging life situation. 

Sometimes it takes time to work through or recover from a difficult situation. It can be anything in our life that is upsetting. Whatever the challenge may be, God is what will carry us through and be our strength. All things are passing by. Our life is made up of seasons that are always shifting and changing. Nothing ever stays the same. And when we are struggling and life is hard, if we can just remember that things won’t always be that way, and hold on to the promises of Christ, eventually life lets up and things change up! Phillipians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

When times get tough there is always something in that season that the Lord is wanting to teach us. The key is being able to embrace that by asking the Lord to reveal what that lesson is. Trust issues, faith, perseverance, overcoming fear or worry, whatever the case may be, I believe there is always a lesson there, within, from the Lord. James 1:2-3 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Anything the Lord allows to happen in our life has a purpose for our growth and the Lord’s eternal plans and purposes for us. James 1:12 tells us, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

We were out of our house for nine days due to no power or heat. I prayed, searched my heart, and considered other living situation possibilities. Nothing turned up, and I felt the Lord prompting me to return to our home. We did, and it took another two months for a return to normalcy. During that time we were still in the midst of property restoration and clean up. And, no internet! 

My lesson was that of perseverance and some things the Lord wanted to change up for me. With no internet, life was different! He taught me new habits and gave me new hobbies that are actually much better and healthier. Although it was uncomfortable and a challenge, I am so thankful for all the Lord has changed in my life. 

It is spring now and I once again am enjoying our cozy little cottage in the forest. The sun is shining, the birds are visiting, the flowers are blossoming, the trees are budding leaves, and I am living life differently and am much more thankful for all we have here. The Lord is so Faithful and He knows just what we need and when we need it. He also knows just how to reach us so we can learn those lessons He has for us. He is our Father, indeed, and I am thankful we have a Heavenly Father that is looking after us, teaching us, making a way for us, and loving us for who we are and who are not. 1 John 4:16 tells us, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

When life gets you down and you just want to run in the other direction, trust in the Lord and just how much He loves you. Press into Him. Psalm 18:2 says, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” And, remember, He wants the very best for you!

For a little extra encouragement and to get stuck in your head, LOL, I have included the link for Toby Mac’s song, Hold On. https://youtu.be/CBVQEt04gxg

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Our Thoughts

“Think good thoughts,” she exclaimed, when I asked what her secret was to living a long and happy life. This was coming from a woman wise in her years. She knew from her 89 years of life experience that it was key to a peaceful and victorious life. She had come to the point in life where she understood the harm that can result when we dwell upon worrisome, fearful, or disturbing thoughts. Our mind is the control center for our body. When our mind is upset so is our body. 

If we can commit our situations to the Lord, trusting Him for His very best purpose in our life, even when things are hard or scary, it will free us to think good and hopeful thoughts in the midst of the storm. If we can walk in peace we will live longer, happier lives. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

According to researchers at Penn State University, only about 8% of the things people worry about come true. This statement by Winston Churchill rings true. “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” It is easy to fall into the worry of the what ifs in life. But, when we turn to God’s Word we are told to do the opposite. In faith, we are to think, trust, and expect God’s very best. “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

We are actually not in control of our life circumstances, even though we struggle with wanting to be in complete control. We all want a certain outcome in life and we may even have a plan we formulated in our mind to reach that hope or dream. Perhaps we have even played out just what that dream looks like and how it should go! But when things don’t go as planned and life gets uncomfortable, scary, or stormy, we need to remember that the Lord has us.

If we are walking in surrender, embracing all that He is doing, it comes down to a matter of trust. He has His reasons for allowing hard or challenging times, which we just cannot fully grasp or understand while we are in the midst of them or looking at them in someone else’s life. But, Psalm 62:1-2 tells us, “I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken.” He is always working things out for good.

In Matthew 11:28-30 we are told, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” We are to keep our focus on God, being confident of who we are as we walk in truth.

If our minds are bent on thinking negative, unhealthy, worrisome thoughts, there is still hope in the transforming of our minds. This can be done through the redeeming power of our Lord as we believe and receive our true identity in Christ. When the mind goes down a rabbit trail of negativity, one thing we can do is STOP and do what I call a TRUTH check. Ask yourself, are these thoughts based on truth or are they based on fear and the what ifs of life? Anything not factual needs to be thrown out and our mind needs to refocus on the truth of God’s promises. I have found the following quote by Andrew Murray to be both powerful and life changing: 

In time of trouble, say, First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest. Next, He will keep me here in his love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as his child. Then say, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons he intends me to learn, and working in me the grace he means to bestow. And last, say, In his good time he can bring me out again, how and when, he knows. Therefore, say, I am here by: 

1. God’s appointment 

2. In His keeping 

3. Under His training

4. For His time

It is our hope in Christ that sustains us through the storms of life; Those things that don’t set right with us, cause us stress and unwanted drama, things we can’t change, things causing us pain or confusion, or whatever our worse fears may be. We belong to Christ and He is our peace. In Joshua 1:9 it says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

When we belong to the Lord, we can rest assured that He is keeping us for His purposes. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 tells us, “The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” Through Christ we can overcome. Those lies from the enemy that are meant to break and destroy us, are just that, for 1 John 4:4 speaks of the victory we have in Christ!  “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” The Lord is with us and He will fight the real enemy through us. We are victorious in Christ, always.

Ephesians 4:1 tells us we are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called. If you are a child of God, saved by the blood of Christ and walking in surrender to Him then you are not your own, and, neither are you alone. You belong to the Holy Spirit who dwells in you. And, regardless of difficult situations, God is always there, taking care of you. You will never face a mountain on your own. The Creator of all things is helping you and He is faithful, forever, to the end. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

We are empowered by God’s Spirit. We are to walk in faith and freedom, not being bound by fear of the unknown. We are to live life fully unto the Lord, following the leading of the Holy Spirit and being confident in His care and chosen purposes for each of us. And, we are to be thinking good thoughts of hope in Christ. We can transform our minds when we focus on the promises of God and stand on the truth, not the what ifs or lies of the enemy. 

Jesus Christ told us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave you; my peace I give you, not as the world gives do I give to you; do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Rest and trust in the Lord and He will give you the peace you need right here and now. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 

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A Better Way

The German Shepherd puppy was in need of a full-time sitter. Stepping up, I took my son’s pup under my wing. There were car rides, walks in the park, playing ball or fetch with a stick, and lots of unsolicited doggy love. I had gained a friend. Man’s best friend, who loved me and followed me around, wherever I would go.  

But then, sweet fun loving German Shepherd puppy began to shed. And, with that, everything began to change, as my allergies kicked in! As the weeks rolled by, our bond began to break down as I began to distance myself. Gone was the closeness we once shared. 

As new boundaries were set and put into place, things began to look up. I was feeling better and the pup was adjusting nicely to her new routine of spending time outside and actually enjoying it. Sure there were sacrifices to be made, such as laying down the beautiful yard as I knew it. Holes were dug out of sheer doggy fun or to bury her bones, flowers were pulled up and broken off as bouquets for me, bless her heart, and garden and barbecue tools were chewed upon because in pups mind, well, they were just a unique sort of stick with an added challenge of not getting cut or stabbed!

This situation with my son’s pup brought to mind the scripture found in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 which tells us, “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” I had been helping my son with his dog, but things just weren’t working out. Did God have a better way?       

We may not be doing something that is wrong, per se, but is it the best for you and those around you? I felt this verse applied to our situation, and also extends to many other aspects of life. All those areas that are not black and white, but gray.

What kind of liberties are we taking in the way we live? Are we considering the consequences and outcomes, the effect it will have on ourselves and the lives of others, and most importantly, are we bringing praise and glory to God? The most important factor in making sound choices is bringing the situation before the Lord, asking for wisdom and discernment, and then waiting for Him to provide the answer in His perfect timing and way. James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

Our lives are truly a sphere of influence. We may feel insignificant, but the truth is, we all influence the lives we touch. Each day, we make either good deposits or bad deposits into the relationships we have with others. Over time this will determine the overall health and success or demise and destruction of our relationships. Philippians 2:3 tells us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”

Giving up the companionship of the dog was not an easy thing for me to do. But, I believe it was the right thing. The blessing of this was how it benefited my son. I had bonded with his dog, which resulted in a negative impact up pup’s relationship with him. When I stepped back, their relationship began to blossom.

It may seem unnatural at first, but waiting upon the Lord before making a decision is definitely well worth the time and effort. When we put Him first, instead of pushing forward with our own agenda, He honors that desire of seeking Him and waiting upon Him for wise counsel. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” When we walk and commune closely with Him, we will ultimately bring God glory.

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God’s Armor

The backyard patio table had been inviting on such a fabulous spring day. As I bit into my sandwich, my eye lock shifted away from that of my lunch guest to the movement behind her. Slithering beneath the rocked wall in our near distance was a four foot long snake with shiny black scales and bright white bands. Its markings clearly defined it as a California Kingsnake. 

Fascinated by wild life, I quickly approached our visitor for a closer look and, of course, a photo opportunity. But, as I narrowed in on it, I received an unexpected hostile reaction from it. To my shock and dismay, it pulled back into a sort of coil and shook its tail like that of a Rattlesnake! 

This behavior is referred to as Batesian mimicry, which is when a harmless species evolves to imitate the warning signals of a harmful species, directed towards a predator. When Kingsnakes are threatened, they emit an unpleasant musk and shake their tails. Had there been leaf litter beneath its tail, it would have produced a buzzing sound that resembles that of a shaking Rattlesnakes tail.

The Kingsnake is immune to Rattlesnake venom and has the ability to overpower and eat snakes that are larger than themselves. This is highly unusual, as 90% of the time, predators are bigger than what they eat. Kingsnakes defy this with their unique way of hunting Rattlesnakes by first biting them behind their head and then rapidly coiling around their bodies one to three times. Because Kingsnakes kill Rattlesnakes, they are good snakes to have around. Kingsnakes know how to fight against predators that are big and deadly and win because they know how to defeat their enemy. What about us? How do we defeat the enemy of our soul?

In Ephesians 1:3, the apostle Paul gives an exhortation on the spiritual blessings and truths we have in Christ. He says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” It is important that we remember these truths, stand on them in faith, and apply them to our lives. They are:

Chosen Before the Foundation of the World (v.4)

Holy and blameless (v.4)  

In His Love (v4)

Predestined to Adoption (v.5)

Accepted in the Beloved (v.6)

Redeemed through His blood (v.7)

Forgiven of Sin. (v.7)

The Riches of His Grace Abound (v.7-8) 

Made Known the Mystery of His will. (v.9)

Obtained an Eternal Inheritance (v.11)

Heard the Word of Truth (v.13)

Sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise (v.13)

The Hope of His Calling (v.18)

The Riches of His Inheritance (v.18)

The Exceeding Greatness of His Power (v.19-20)

In addition to believing and standing in faith on the truth of these promises and blessings, in Ephesians 6:10-17 we are introduced to the armor of God. This is how a Christ follower is to protect themselves in spiritual battle.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” 

The following is a list of God’s Armor and what it means. In my research I found different variations and interpretations. I decided to use the following commentary taken directly from Pastor Chuck Smith’s writings. These are his words and examples, not mine. 

Belt of Truth– Because the enemy is always coming with his lies. Jesus said that the devil is the father of all lies. And he tries to lie to you about God, about the nature of God, about the character of God, about the attitude of God towards you. He tries to lie to you about God’s attitude towards sin. “Oh, it really doesn’t matter. You can get by with it. God will judge you. God will forgive,” and so forth, and he presses the point of causing you to use the grace of God as a cloak for lasciviousness, deceiving yourself. The truth-it’s important that I be armed with the truth.

Breastplate of Righteousness– That commitment in my heart to do that which is right before God. I have got to have that as a commitment of my life. I want to do the right thing. Not to observe the situation and then determine which way I will balance. But just have that determination that I am going to live a right kind of life. Righteousness actually constitutes the right actions towards those around me. And unrighteousness is not doing the right thing toward my neighbor. Godliness is doing the right thing towards God, the right relationship with God. Ungodliness is the wrong relationship with God. There is ungodliness, my relationship with God, and unrighteousness, my relationship with man. Now he is talking here about righteousness. I have got to have that as a basic foundation, the breastplate of righteousness. I am going to do as best as God enables me the right thing. I want to live right.

Gospel of Peace– It is God’s desire that we live in peace with each other, and with Him. We live in a world that is filled with strife. We talk about marriage relationships, but how many homes are so filled with strife. The atmosphere is continually tense as we are failing to obey the scriptures in submitting one to another in love. But we are trying to dominate over each other; we are trying to rule over each other, and there is no love involved. We get to arguing over the most ridiculous things and we won’t give in. We won’t yield the point, we will press our point, get the last word in, leave a sour taste. And yet, as the scripture says, “That yielding will pacify great offenses.” How many times in a tense situation where there is just the drawn sword and the clash taking place can the whole issue be diffused by just one person saying, “I think you are right. It is stupid to go on arguing like that. You are probably right.” It just diffuses the whole thing. Suddenly the strife is gone. Why do we find that so hard to do? To admit to being wrong, or to admit to the other person possibly being right. Even when we know they are wrong. Help us, Lord

Shield of Faith– That faith and confidence in God is what is being talked about here. ”Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Ephesians 6:16) Satan is constantly attacking us. My faith in God, God’s ability, God’s power, God’s working in me. I can stand against these attacks of the enemy.

Helmet of Salvation-Thank God I have been saved through Jesus Christ from that tyranny of a life mastered by the flesh. I have been saved in order that I might walk in fellowship with God through the Spirit.

Sword of the Spirit– The Word of God. God’s Word is a tremendous defense against sin. John said, “I write unto you young men, because you are strong, because you have overcome the wicked one, because His Word abides in you.” The power of God’s Word within my heart against sin, it is the greatest defense that I can have in this spiritual battle that I am in, having God’s Word hidden in my heart.

Thank you, Pastor Chuck, for that commentary. I am grateful we have the truth found in God’s Word, knowing we have promises to stand upon and a way to fight the enemy of our soul. We are abundantly blessed to have the knowledge of the armor of God.

The day that King snake found its way into my yard, I felt a bit vulnerable and threatened. My daughter often plays in that yard, and here was this huge snake right in her play area. But, as I prayed about the situation I was actually comforted and relieved, realizing the snake is a protector to us. It is a good one to have around! The fact that it hunts and kills deadly Rattlesnakes gave me a whole new peace and perspective on its presence.

We, too, can have a new perspective in our own lives. Knowing and understanding who we are in Christ makes all the difference. Realizing that our battles are spiritual in nature, standing on the promises of the Lord in faith, and using the full armor of God will protect the enemy of our soul from devouring us. All power is found in the King of Kings, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one who saves us from our enemies. Through Christ we have the victory!

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, please use the share buttons at the bottom of the page instead of doing a copy and paste. All rights reserved by copyright. Thank you. Blessings to you!

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God’s Got IT

Jumping and pulling and playfully barking, the pup pulled on the leash. She was excited and wanted to go play with the dog who was running freely across the green ball field. As I reigned her in, I thought about how we, too, often want to just run off, in pursuit of our own plans and ideas in spite of what is actually best for us.  

It came down to a battle of wills, as this pup was not being obedient. Bottom line, she saw what she wanted and sought to be in control of her circumstance. How often do we pull and tug and press-in for what we want? The will of a dog can be broken. But, what about us? God does not want us to have a broken spirit. Instead, He gives us freedom to make choices in life, be they good or bad for us. He gives us free will, unlike a master and his dog.

Holding back from what we desire is a challenge! Our flesh is really good at demanding what it wants, right… NOW. The power of our flesh can so overcome us that we are incapable of determining the consequence of a choice we are making in the moment. This is why it is so important that we bring everything before the Lord before making a decision. There are many choices to be made in life that demand our attention. We are to walk in obedience with the Lord by first bringing everything before Him. Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I recently watched a survival reality TV show where the guy got so hungry he decided to kill the little critter that he had befriended. The squirrel had become his only source of companionship on the lonely and isolated tundra island. He had gained its trust, so it would hang out with him and keep him company. He would talk to it as if it were his friend. However, when his hunger overcame him one episode, he killed it and ate it to satisfy his ravenous appetite. The result was him falling to pieces, an emotional wreck. He was so overcome with guilt and misery for eating his only little buddy that he resigned. He quit the game in a puddle of remorse and tears, and went home utterly defeated. 

Psalm 56:8 tells of Christ’s empathy, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Sometimes I have to chuckle, thinking about my tower of bottles in heaven! But, it also makes me realize how much Jesus cares about my troubles, sorrow, and pain. He never misses a single tear I shed. He is always aware and always there. Nothing is hidden from the Lord. Psalm 32:8 tells us, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” He has purpose in our hurts and disappointments. Nothing happens to us that is a surprise to the Lord. Anything that happens in a believers life is approved and done with the watchful eye of our Heavenly Father. He never gives us more than we can handle. He only permits what will ultimately be best for us and also bring Him glory. 

So when we are hurting, frustrated, confused, or just don’t understand why we are going through something hard, it is important that we acknowledge who we are before God. We belong to Him. We are the clay that our Potter is molding into something much more beautiful than we can ever imagine. And, that can be a painful process. But, in spite of our discomfort, we are to embrace what He is doing in our life and rejoice in the Lord. We are to be giving God glory in our joyful moments along with times of sorrow, disappointment, and pain. The Scriptures tell us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

In spite of whatever hardship we are facing we still need to acknowledge the goodness of God in our lives by thanking Him for all the abundantly good things we have and are blessed with. Anything we have is a gift from the Lord. James 1:17 tells us, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” Many think that all they have is because of the hard work they have put in during their life to obtain it. Yes, but, ultimately, God is our Provider. He is the One who makes things happen for us and shines His face upon us, making a good way in life. 

Ever feel like you have exhausted all your resources in a situation? It’s like we try this and that, using our knowledge and logic, hoping it will solve or end a certain problem. It can be difficult when we don’t understand what we are to do in a particular situation we are dealing with, even though we are obediently waiting upon Him. We have sought the Lord on it, yet, we don’t see anything happening or feel the Lord telling us what to do. Try as we may, there can seem to be no end or answer in sight! The battle actually belongs to Jesus. To allow for that, we need to get before Him and give Him our problems. We must surrender to what God is wanting to do in our lives, to the will of the Lord.

If we are bringing our issues to the Lord in prayer, seeking Him for wisdom, guidance, and answers, He will work on our behalf. We can receive His perfect peace in the midst of the trials and challenges we face. Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” And when we can’t change things and nothing seems to be working, we must continue to press-in to the Lord and wait upon Him for how he is moving in our lives. God is Sovereign. God is Just. God never changes. GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME. We are not in control of the situations in our life. God is. There is a point where we need to understand and accept this fact in order to keep our peace. Then, we must walk in faith.

This is a hard season to be in. BUT GOD. I like to look at it as if we have put in our request and know that the Lord is working on it, even though we cannot see any changes. It gives me hope knowing that He is taking care of things and I am not the one that needs to figure things out all on my own. Instead, my focus is to be on Him each day, not the problem, and be faithful in that day for what He asks of me, all the while waiting for His leading and prompting. There is peace in knowing and trusting that the Lord is in fact working all things out for our best good. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Our life is not a game of chess where we strategically plan our moves until one day we are in check and BAM, life is perfect and it is all that we ever wanted. We have a winner! It just doesn’t work that way. Life is completely unpredictable. Ecclesiastes 10:14 reminds us, “No man knows what is to be.” 

Having a humble heart before the Lord is key if you want to walk in obedience with the Lord. Not our will, but His. We must trust Him with our life and that of those we love, knowing He loves us and wants the very best for us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “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 a hope and a future.” We are here for a purpose. We need to be open to living out the plans the Lord has intended for us. If we are seeking the Lord and walking in obedience then we can be confident in Proverbs 16:9, which tells us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” 

So no matter how hard life seems or how overwhelming a situation may be, we are to remember that God is in control and we just are not. No matter how much we so want an answer or understanding, or something to change, it truly is not our call, but the decision of our Maker who knows what we need and when we need it. His timing is always perfect.

Bottom line is, God’s got this. YES, HE HAS ALL OF IT. Whatever you are facing, just know if you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, then you are not dealing with IT alone. We are to lay it all down at the foot of the cross in an act of surrender. Not our will, but the will of God in our life. It is a daily surrender. We have to be able to walk in peace even when we are uncomfortable in our present situation. The apostle Paul said it well in Philippians 4:11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” 

Even though that green ball field looks inviting, and we can be head strong, let’s not run off and try to take care of things in our own make-sense, selfish, I’m tired of waiting, disobedient kind of way! 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 tells us to, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” God has a plan and a purpose for each of us, despite the challenges and difficulties we are facing. We are to join Him by embracing all that He is doing, even when we don’t understand and feel uncomfortable. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” And so, we must be patient in faith and trust the Lord for what He is doing. “… What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived, the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 The Lord is Faithful, always. Trust in Him. His ways are BEST.

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Investing in the Talents

As a born again believer and follower of Christ we are given gifts, talents and abilities, from the Holy Spirit, that are to be used to bring God glory. This is a promise from the Lord, to us. 1 Peter 4:10 tells us, “Each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” We are to seek to please God with the gifts He has given us.

God created each of us with unique intrinsic value. In Romans 12:6 we are told, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” We are distinctively wired by the Lord for the life we are to live out. He has given us the tools we need to be successful in our endeavors. We are to embrace the opportunities we are given and use His gifts, unto the Lord. God never expects us to be like anyone else. Just be the best you, right where you are at this present time in your life. There is no one else who can fulfill the plans and purposes the Lord has set out for you and the lives He will have you touch for His eternal kingdom. Ephesian 2:10 tells us, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus speaks of what is called, “The Parable of the Talents.” It is a story of a master who was leaving to travel. He entrusts his property to his servants. When he returns home after being gone a long time, the master asks his three servants for an account of the talents he entrusted to them. This is the parable:

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more.So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.

For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

What a powerful exhortation from Jesus Christ explaining to us the importance of using our talents to give God glory! In 1 Corinthians 12:7 we are told, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” Take a look around you. Embrace and pour into the life you have right now with the gifts the Lord has given you. Whatever your life situation may be, do your best within those confines. Only Christ can see the complete picture of the complexities and challenges of each life. God does not judge through human understanding. So being faithful in what seems to be a very small thing, could actually have huge rewards eternally. Jeremiah 32:19 says, “Great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve.” The Lord judges us on what we do with what He gives us. So don’t try to be something you are not or strive to do something you have not been called to do. Stick with what you know He has given you.

Embrace the life you have been given, use your gifts and talents to bring glory unto the Lord, and invest in them with a heavenly perspective. One day when our journey here ends and Christ ushers us into heaven, we will have the joy of hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little,” I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:23

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How to Overcome Rejection

Like an ever growing snowball tumbling down a mountainside, picking up debris with great speed and momentum, so is the propulsion of rejection in the heart and mind of the one who believes this deception to be true. Hurt upon hurt, lie upon lie, until one’s life is perceived as continual rejection, be it real or imagined. 

The lies we believe about our lack of self-worth can seriously trip us up. It is a vicious cycle that snowballs. The more we believe the lie of rejection, the more we embrace it and make it part of who we are. Wearing the identity of rejection as our persona, insecurities grow and are seemingly affirmed when things go wrong in life.

Rejection and self-pity are from the pit of hell. They are not attributes given to us by the Lord. Don’t allow the pain and toxicity from real or perceived rejection ruin you. The fact is, we are God’s Masterpiece. We are made in the very image of God! Psalm 139:14 tells us, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

We are not responsible for the neglectful behavior we receive from others. However, we are responsible for our response. If you have wronged someone, apologize and make things right. Otherwise, your sin will cause a separation between you and the Lord. If your conscience is clear and without conviction, trust the Lord to take care of hurtful or toxic people in your life. His ways are always best. It may seem that people get away with wrong attitudes or hurtful behaviors, but that is a fallacy. We are all accountable to God. Nothing is hidden from the sovereignty of the Lord our God, as He sees the most hidden places of the heart. 

Pray for those who have hurt you or let you down. Lift them up to the Lord. This enables you to be proactive in a beneficial manner. Let the Lord do the convicting and correcting, if need be. Let go of hurts that can’t be resolved and seem unfixable. Focus in on Him and let Him heal unexplained disappointments or hurts in life. Having a heart of compassion and desire for others well-being will help. The Lord is merciful, and so should we also be. When we put the good of others first, we push down the selfish desires of our flesh. Do what is right before the Lord. There is peace in doing the right thing, as we rest and trust in Him. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Our purpose is not to aspire popularity or flattery from others. Seek ONLY to please Him, as our affirmation needs to come from Him. He will honor that desire. If we are serving the Lord first in our life, and He is our confidence, other things will also plumb up! Matthew 6:33 tells us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” We are loved and accepted by the Lord our God. He will provide comfort and peace, along with strength and new confidence. Isaiah 30:15 reassures us that, …In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

It is of utmost importance that you know your worth. Walk in the freedom of knowing who you are in Christ. Your identity is in Him. Having a correct perspective of yourself will be a complete game changer. Enjoy your life. Count your blessings. You belong, are worthy, and your are competent. I urge you to meditate on this. Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Be the best you!

The following is a paraphrase model taken from a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley of In-Touch Ministries on The 3 Steps of How to Overcome Rejection:

1. Identify your feelings of rejection

They stem out of feelings of not belonging, not feeling worthy, and not feeling competent.

2. Reject them 

We are God’s children. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 

We belong to God!

He gave His son for us. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

We are worthy!

We can do all things through Christ. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” 

We are competent!

3. Affirm

We are unconditionally loved, forgiven, accepted, and complete in Christ. Live as a child of the Living God. LISTEN TO WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT YOU!

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, please use the share buttons at the bottom of the page instead of doing a copy and paste. All rights reserved by copyright. Thank you. Blessings to you!

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Our Hope in Christ

We are all on our own path and journey with the Lord. If we are seeking the Lord and walking with Him, then The Lord has us right where He wants us in this present moment of time. He knows what we need, so stay true to Him. He is Faithful to provide all our need. Only seek God’s affirmation. It is God’s approval that matters. Comparing oneself to another is unprofitable. Instead, let’s walk with the Lord and do our best, being confident and secure in who we are in Christ, and where God has us in life. We are where we are for a reason. We have purpose. Let’s learn what God is teaching us and use the gifts the Lord has given us. Let’s be who God designed us to be. We are His masterpiece. We are all unique and different, and that’s more than good. It’s perfect!

1 Peter 1:3-9

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

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Stay Strong and Soar Like the Eagle

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” This scripture, found in Isaiah 40:31, is referring to how we are to live life. In spite of disappointment, failure, or fear, we are to stay strong and even SOAR like the eagle.

If you are troubled by past mistakes or failures, remember, the past is just that. It is behind you. Let go of those disappointments. Don’t live in regret wishing you had made a better choice. What is done, is just that! It is OVER. Praise the Lord! You have your whole life ahead of you and that means opportunity to seek those unfulfilled dreams and desires the Lord has put in your heart. Luke 1:37 tells us, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Stay in the moment. The mind is responsible for most of our present unhappiness. Just breathe. Enjoy this very moment in time. Begin with the fact that life is a gift. That testifies to purpose. The future is not here or now, so let go of the what ifs. Overthinking possible future outcomes can cause worry and fear. God is in control of all our situations. In 1 John 4:18 we are told, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love.” Trust in Him. Find rest in Him. Praise Him for all the good in your life and all that is still to come. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Stay strong in the Lord and true to Him.

Jesus Christ is our Hope. HE redeems. HE restores. HE renews. We have freedom through Christ. Lay down the heavy burdens you carry, whatever they may be. Allow Him to heal your hurts and disappointments. And, above all, have a forgiving heart. This is key to living a victorious life. In Matthew 18:22,  Jesus tells us we are to forgive others seventy times seven times! Through Christ you can forgive the pain others have inflicted upon you. This will allow you to walk in freedom. John 8:32 reassures us, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Through Christ we can live in victory, no matter what is behind us. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.“ He is Faithful, always. He cleans the slate and sets us free. It is up to us to choose our mindset. Hanging onto the past hurts, failures, or disappointments will only hinder our relationship with the Lord, those lives we touch most, and hurt ourselves. Choosing to let go of the past and not worry about the future by trusting and resting in the Lord will bring you the peace you need to live each day with fullness of His joy. 

Stay in the present, have a thankful heart, and know that there is nothing too far gone that can’t be redeemed by the Lord. Psalm 103:2-5 says, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Yes, it is true. “Who the Son sets free is free indeed!” John 8:36

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Masterpiece

Written on the outside of the brown paper bag were the words, broken in three pieces. Tucked inside were the fragments of a cherished family heirloom. The pieces, hidden from the sight of others, had been in a state of brokenness for many years. If only the elegant plate had been repaired after the incident, it could have been serving others in a most charming manner all along. Our hearts, like that plate, can get crushed and neither one can be fixed by ignoring the broken pieces.

This tucked away treasure is a picture of the emotions found in the human heart. People get hurt and without even realizing it, can carry the pain within their hearts for years. If we can step back and look at ourselves, we may see some broken pieces from our past that we have hidden away. We are so much better off releasing the pain from our past, instead of continuing to carry that burden of brokenness. It’s hard to carry the pieces and function at our best. That is why acknowledging our broken places is so healthy. Once we identify them, we can then release them to the Lord. Psalm 55:22 tells us, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you.” 

It is never too late to be who you want to be. Search your heart. If there is something in your past that you feel ashamed of, talking to the Lord about it will promote healing and restoration within your own heart. Don’t let the shame of the past steal the joy you could be living out today. Identify those hurts. Become aware of the triggers in your life. If you can pinpoint them and acknowledge there is something there that needs to be dealt with, the next step is bringing it before the Lord to seek His wholeness and healing. 1 John 3:20 says, “For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”

God sees all. Nothing is hidden from Him.  In Psalm 56:8 we are told, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” You don’t have to do much explaining because the Lord is already aware of the hurtful situations you have encountered in life. The Lord is our Healer, the One who fixes our broken places. Why go through life hiding those pieces when you can give them back to Christ, allowing Him to release the pain and fully restore you. 

You are His Masterpiece and He designed you to have a whole heart. Psalm 30:2 says, “O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.” Give it all over to Him and leave it at the foot of the cross. We were designed by God. He crafted us together. Psalm 139:14 tells us “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” He wants us to be whole in Him, not fractured or broken. Our purpose really is to be about His business, serving Him and others. And when we allow Him to heal our broken places, we can do that all the better.  

As the years rolled by, the time was never taken to simply glue the family heirloom back together. What a shame it had been to carry it through life, broken. Gluing the plate back together, I realized, had I taken the time and effort to deal with the break right then and there, I could have been enjoying it’s beauty all along. And so it is with the human heart. If we choose to deal with the hurts of the heart, and allow the Lord to glue together the broken pieces, how much better life will be. When the condition of the heart is whole, it is simply a beautiful thing. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart forever.” Psalm 73:26  

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Flight of the Butterfly

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Fluttering above the spring garden blossoms with its wings of brilliant yellow, the gentle flight of the Swallowtail butterfly was beautifully carefree. It flew from plant to plant with such ease, as God had purposed it. As it continued, it danced its way from the garden flowers and unknowingly ended up beneath a large obstacle that hindered its flight. In a flying frenzy its instinct was to head repeatedly upward, only to result in further panic and entrapment, as it repeatedly flew into a wall of resistance. If only it could focus on the light straight ahead, it could fly free. Like that butterfly, we can find ourselves feeling trapped, beaten down, and in an emotional frenzy when we allow continual hurt to hinder us.

Instead of repeating the same painful patterns, healthy change must occur. The catch is, sometimes the adaptation that needs to happen for us to experience freedom isn’t based upon our surroundings at all. This is an internal adjustment that needs to be made. Nothing in our present situation need change for a change of heart to take place. 

Often times our hurt can be linked to unrealized expectations and disappointments we had for our relationships with others. It could be their failure to live up to such expectations that caused the source of pain. Or, maybe there was never any closure from an offender. Whatever the reason, there is this unresolved pain

The Bible is clear in telling us that the Lord looks at the heart. He sees all those broken places within us and He desires to release us and do a healing work in our heart. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7. With the Lord, we can receive emotional healing without the act of reconciliation actually happening. It is about laying down all the hurt, pain, and rejection caused by others and giving it over completely to Jesus Christ. He alone is our Comforter and Healer. It is an act of complete surrender of the heart, trusting in the Lord who sees all things. Psalm 56:8 tells us,“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

We are to give up all the unrealized expectations and disappointments we have towards others. Ephesians 4:31-32 tells us, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” We are to lay it all down at the foot of the cross. Forgive those who have hurt you, accepting them for who they are and what they are not. Expect nothing in return. That means forgiving them even though a bad behavior within them may not have changed. Remember, this is about you and your heart attitude. This is about the healing of your wounded emotions. Pray for reconciliation within your own heart. And, ask for forgiveness for any anger or hurt you may have been holding in your heart. 1 John 1:9 reminds us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And if possible, pray for the person who wounded you. In Matthew 5:44 Jesus says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” 

It is amazing how freeing it is when we let go of past hurts. Only when we decide in our own heart and mind, and we make that conscious choice to forgive, regardless of the current relationship status, do we truly become free. It may seem we are letting our offenders off the hook, yet, it is our own chains that are broken through the act of truly forgiving. Psalm 107:20 tells us, “He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.” Our angry thoughts and bitter heart may fight it, but when we do forgive those who have hurt us, the Lord pours out His healing upon all our broken places. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 It is when we forgive others that we truly receive our own healing.

Forgiving those who have hurt us is not an easy thing to do, especially if the wounds have been there for any amount of time. But with the Lord, there is hope! He is our Great Physician and Healer of all our pain. The hardest part is letting go and giving it to the Lord and allowing Him into ALL our broken places. It is a decision we have to make, but when we do we will feel free and whole once again, no longer trapped, beaten down, or in an emotional frenzy. Like that butterfly, who needed to fly straight ahead and focus in on the light ahead in order to fly freely once again, so must we. Focus on the Light of Christ. Trust Him to guide you in your pursuit of healing, giving all unrealized expectations and disappointments over to Him. Once you do, like that butterfly, you will experience the freedom Christ designed us to have when we are whole in Him. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

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Rest in the Lord

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Just Relax…

Just Rest…

Just Breathe…

This is what I felt the Lord was telling me.

Do you ever feel like you go from issue to issue, stress to stress, problem to problem? I sure do. Sometimes I wish I could just STOP THINKING. I find myself going in circles in my head reviewing possible plans and options and asking the Lord to show me His way. But, sometimes, He wants us to STOP THINKING and quietly wait upon Him for His perfect timing and answer.

I often FEEL overwhelmed when trying to make decisions and hope I am doing right before the Lord. It certainly is not easy. It is definitely uncomfortable. But, it is actually a good place to be as it stretches our faith. And that, my friend, is ALWAYS a good thing.

Do you ever FEAR taking a wrong turn in life? I do, especially when it comes to parenting my kids. I want the very best for them. Just as we want the best for our children, how much more the Lord wants that for us. 1 John 3:1 says, “The Father has loved us so much that we are called children of God.” He wants us to live lives grounded in the peace that surpasses all understanding, which only comes from walking closely with the Lord.

Do you remember a time, maybe when you were a child, when you did not have to concern yourself about the worries and many choices of life? Having someone provide a way for you is a freeing experience. Just as parents carry the burdens for a child, so the Lord can carry our burdens. Matthew 11:30 tells us, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When we live lives yoked to the Lord, we will experience His peace as we stay in step with Him. He leads. He guides. He provides a way. He is strong and will get us through the tough times even when we feel the load is just too heavy.

If the answer we are seeking is not formulating, then sometimes the Lord is telling us to WAIT. But, not just wait, but wait on Him. We are to keep praising Him and thanking Him for what He is doing. We are to patiently anticipate His plan and timing of it, to be revealed to us. We must keep the faith. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

It is not simple. Sometimes we want THAT answer so badly. It is a challenge to not keep hashing things over. However, if we rest in Him, He will be our peace. In due time, He will speak into our hearts and minds the answer to the questions we have unwearyingly waited for.

In the meantime…

Just relax…

Just rest…

Just breathe…

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

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Stay the Course

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Staying the course is a popular expression in the United States. It is referring to a person who perseveres to the end. We all need to stay the course in life, but how do we do just that? How do we stay focused with a constant barrage of challenges and trials in our life? How do we stay the course when life’s circumstances seem to pull us off course?

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Lack of rest actually contributes to restlessness, not just physically, but spiritually. We need to rest our bodies daily, but resting our soul is of the utmost importance. We must learn to rest in the Lord, where He will renew our strength and refresh our very soul. If we do not take time out to read God’s word, commune with Him, praise Him, give our troubles over to Him, and trust in Him, we can tire or become easily overwhelmed, lose our focus, and become ineffective in not only our daily routine, but also in our witness to others. That, would be exactly what the enemy would want; an ineffective, confused, miserable Christian. In Matthew 11:29 Jesus tells us to, “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.”

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It is also important that we renew our spirit and mind. When we infuse our mind with the truth of the Bible, it allows us to filter out the things of this world, false doctrines, lies of the enemy, and allows us to be wise and discerning as God’s word seeps deeply into our very soul. Ephesians 4:23 tells us to “Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” And, in Romans 12:2 God tells us “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

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You must take time to refresh yourself; however that looks for you, without feeling guilty. Down time is essential in order to be well, function properly, and be spiritually healthy. The actual definition of down time is, a time during which a machine, especially a computer, is out of action or unavailable for use. Or, as we American’s use it, as a time of reduced activity or inactivity. A frazzled Christian tends to lose the joy of the Lord, and will not be productive in going about their Father’s business on that given day. Jeremiah 31:25 promises us, “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” You will find you have new strength and energy when you do, and, your days will be more productive and happier as the Lord gives you a fresh perspective on life.

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As we know, life happens, and we can get distracted by the circumstances of life. Problems come up and our human tendency is to think, ponder, and pour ourselves into trying to fix and resolve them on our own. When this happens, we actually lose focus of our very solution. Colossians 3:2 tells us to “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” We must take our eyes off our problems and put them back on Christ. When we fall prey to the stress of circumstance we must refocus. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 We must give those problems over to Christ by laying them down at the foot of the cross and, in faith, trust Him to work things out for our best and highest good. Romans 8:28 says that “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” As the Lord takes you through challenges of this life, thank Him for what he is teaching you and continue to rejoice in Him. This will refocus you on Christ, not your circumstances.

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Remember to rest in the Lord, renew your mind, take time to refresh your soul, and always keep your eyes on Christ. You will be amazed at what the Lord takes you victoriously through, and teaches you, as you rest in Him. Staying the course through life’s trials and challenges is possible when we put the Lord first in our life. As you put your trust in the Lord you will find you have renewed vitality in life. Life is good because… God is Great!

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Hidden Hurts of the Heart

Beautifully lush greenery was popping up all over my freshly planted garden. The delicate leaves were lovely but, bottom line, they just didn’t belong there. When trying to pull them out, they wouldn’t budge because there was a stronghold beneath them. As it turned out, they were actually small tree saplings that were growing directly off a huge root right beneath the garden. Rather than rip up the entire garden, I opted for clipping them off just above the surface. I knew they were still there, but no one else could see them. Just like those sprouting saplings, the hidden hurts in our hearts will continue to surface until we remove the roots.

Contrary to belief, time does not heal all wounds. Even though time passes, the pain of past hurts lurks on, until it is properly dealt with. When we have been hurt and find ourselves dwelling on painful memories, there are steps we can take to release that pain, ultimately allowing the healing process to begin. 

The first step is to get alone with the Lord. Tell Him everything. Pour out your heart to Him. There is nothing you can say that will surprise God. Be completely transparent, and let it all out. Crying is a good release, and can be helpful. Job 5:11 tells us, “The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” If you have a Bible, I encourage you to read it during this time with the Lord. Often, He will provide a scripture of hope and strength, something to hold onto as encouragement.

There is another step that can be taken that is also helpful in clearing our head and heart. Sometimes the pain we carry is linked to people we just can’t sit down and have a face-to-face with due to their death or non-compliance. Or, someone who is alive, but would be devastated and wrecked if confronted with pain they unintentionally caused. A good example of this would be a parent who, although they tried, still managed to fail miserably.

This exercise is a recommendation from Dr. Charles Stanley, pastor of In-Touch Ministries:

Get two chairs. Sit in one chair and then face the other empty chair. Now, have a conversation with the person who hurt you deeply. Tell that empty chair everything that caused you pain. Whatever hurt you. Don’t hold back. Permission granted to yell, cry, and even kick that chair! Release the pent up pain. Let it out, saying EVERYTHING you feel. This is going to provide you with an amazing release. All that hurt you have been carrying around, will lift! There is something about voicing it out, even if it isn’t to the individual that hurt you.

We are not responsible for the behavior and actions of others. However, we are totally responsible for our own. Once you have spoken out all the pain and hurt, you will have a strange peace and type of closure within yourself. The situation may not be resolved with the other individual, but healing in your heart can begin. We are responsible for the condition of our own hearts, as 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us,“… the LORD looks at the heart.”

Ripping up my garden to dig out roots growing beneath the earth’s surface wasn’t worth it. However, taking the time to deal with roots of past pain is profitable. If you are carrying hurt from the past, I encourage you to get with the Lord and speak your heart. And, if you feel more is needed, get out those chairs. Sound weird? What do you have to lose? Just the heartache!

Included below are the links for Dr. Charles Stanley’s sermons that address this topic.

Hurts We Don’t Deserve Part 1

Hurts We Don’t Deserve Part 2

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Rumor Weed

The obnoxious weed was loud and mouthy, and it just kept growing and twisting until it weaved its way through the city, destroying the things in its path as it grew bigger and stronger. I have never forgotten the depiction of that Rumor Weed from a Veggie Tales show, years ago when my kids were young. I can’t help but think of that weed in relation to sin and how easily it can grow if we do not pluck it out by its roots.

If I don’t stay on top of pulling out the weeds in my garden, they quickly begin to take over, crowding out the healthy veggies that are growing and yielding fruit. This is what can happen in life, if we don’t recognize the power sin has over us. We need to be sure and pull out the weeds in our life that are fed by the ways of the world, and our fleshly nature. Some sprouting weeds can look pretty and seem like no big deal, but quickly grow and consume the things in its path, just like that Rumor Weed. It doesn’t take long before the weed multiplies and can begin to choke out healthy plants, along with the good fruit that was being produced in our lives. We are warned in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Whatever our sin may be, if brought before the Lord, and confessed to Him, He will provide the strength to overcome whatever troubles us. We can be free from that thing that causes us to stumble. Jesus is Faithful to rescue, redeem, and restore us. John 1:9 reassures us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

There will always be weeds that sprout up in our life. But, if we spend time tending our garden with the Lord those weeds will be more noticeable to us when they first sprout up. It is much simpler to pull out a small weed, before its roots have been established than to deal with a weed that has been allowed to grow big and tall with roots embedded deep in our soul. As stated in Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” Whatever the issue, God is bigger. Whatever the struggle, we have hope. The truth is, there is no Rumor Weed God can’t pluck out. Trust in Him. He has the tools to tend your garden and produce good fruit through you.

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Tending the Garden

The leaves were heavy and droopy, and the dirt was excessively dry. In my hurrying and scurrying about that morning, I figured I would just give it a good soaking upon my quick return. Plans changed, and the hours past, and I returned to a very sullen wilted garden. As I stood in the heat of the day watering my thirsty plants, I couldn’t help but think about how we are similarly affected when we don’t take the needed time to water our own spiritual garden. 

When we start allowing commitments to steal away our time, we can hurt ourselves and those lives we touch. It is important to understand our own limitations and realize when our cup is almost empty. Spending quiet time with the Lord and getting into His Word renews our strength. And just like the plants in the garden, we will perk back up! It is like drinking a cool glass of water on a hot parched day. Isaiah 58:11 tells us,  “The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” What a wonderful promise from the Lord!

Just as the plants wilted in the summer heat, so can we when the heat is turned up in our life, and we have not taken adequate time to drink from the living water that is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. So next time you are feeling overcome, I encourage you to find a quiet place and spend some time with the Lord. John 4:14 tells us, “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” And to that I say, AMEN!

I have attached a song for you. Please click on the link below and let the music minister to your soul!

O Come to the Alter

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Roadblocks

Smile! You’re on camera! The sign was posted on a chain link fence that had been put across the running trail. I smiled, waved both arms up high in the air, and then did an about-face. I was disappointed about the roadblock, detour, and unexpected route change, especially since it was a place I had been routinely running for years. I couldn’t help but think about how this sort of thing frequently happens to us in our life journey.

When we have a routine, it is what we know and what we do. It is comfortable. So when all of a sudden we are faced with an unexpected change, it can be challenging for us to switch gears and go with it. However, that is exactly what the Lord wants us to do. 

One of my favorite verses, found in Proverbs 3:5-6, tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” It takes faith and trust in the Lord to be at peace when we are being stretched in new and unknown directions. But if we can just take that step of faith, believing that the Lord has our best in mind, we will find the unfamiliar route, although uncomfortable, full of pleasant surprises and beauty. 

We must be able to stay focused on the Lord if we want to experience the fullness of joy He has for us. If we are busy complaining about how hard things are, chances are, our attitude is going to reflect just that. Jesus doesn’t want us to feel overwhelmed or discouraged. In fact, He wants us to feel excited and follow His lead down the new path He has for us. Trusting in Him, step-by-step, makes it much easier when we encounter the potholes, bumps, or grueling hills of life.

If you are able to take your focus off the detour and the rough road, you will find the Lord places much beauty along the way. And when we start seeing those things, and having a thankful heart, and praising the Lord for all the good in our life, something beautiful begins to blossom. It is a joy that comes only from being content right where the Lord has you, embracing what He is doing in your life. 

I ended up running back on a rough rocky road instead of the smooth dirt trail I was used to running. There were hills, and I was hot and tired. However, as I set out, I discovered I was under an umbrella of towering pine trees, which provided cool shade. The rolling hills were actually refreshing, as I was able to pick up my pace on the downward side. It was quite beautiful with the carpet of pine needles and scattered pine cones that covered the uneven rocky terrain. There were purple sweet peas and wild yellow daisies in the greenery along the banks of the canal. There was a refreshing breeze, and the birds were singing their praises! 

Had I continued with a disgruntled attitude, I would have missed out on the joy. I was glad the Lord had rerouted me. It was a challenge I needed, and I enjoyed the new adventure. The Lord always knows just what we need. It is up to us to rise to the occasion and embrace that roadblock, detour, or unexpected route. Take that step of faith. Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Thy Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.” You won’t be disappointed!

The Only One

We all have a go-to in life. That something we do when we are upset, or feel bad in some way. For some it may be food, alcohol, smoking, drugs, or other not-so-healthy choices people turn to when trying to escape their own pain and confusion. Some of these activities offer temporary relief. However, the feeling or problem is never really released or dealt with when one seeks to be comforted or numbed by such practices as these.  

I routinely reach for chocolate as a quick mood elevator. Chocolate fixes everything, I always joke! I also love a good run. Running clears my head and releases endorphins into my brain that actually create a feeling of euphoria. These are both also temporary in the way they change my mood, or distract me. Although these both help me and make me feel better, when I am truly troubled there is only one place for me to turn to that offers me complete relief. 

Psalm 46:1 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” He is the ONLY ONE who truly understands each of us. There may be people close to you that get you, but the Lord, He sees your heart, understands your intentions, and knows just what makes you tick. And when we bring our troubles to Him, our pain to Him, our worries to Him, He is the ONLY ONE who can truly calm our spirit completely. I thank the Lord for all He has done in my life. He is the One who has seen me through hard times. 

Even if our circumstances do not change, just going to the Lord with the issue or problem will, in fact, change things up! When we bring our brokenness to Him, He makes things happen inside our hearts. When we allow the Lord to minister to us where we hide and hold our pain, and have that connection to Christ, He provides amazing strength and peace of mind. Going to the Lord surpasses all other habits or resources. 

If you want to truly be set free of your pain, turn to the Lord. All you need to do is ask for His help and get into His Word. A whole new world and life awaits you when you allow the Lord into your life and give him your failures, pain, or whatever issue you are struggling with. As it says in John 8:32, “ Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”