Great Risk, Great Reward

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“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,”

 Nahum 1:7 NIV

When you step out in faith with God, you are going to face great risk.

You will have to walk in what I call “crazy obedience”.

The kind of obedience that leaves what you know, sacrifices whatever is needed and eagerly embraces temporary difficulty for the hope of a future promise.

Know that even though the risk seems great, the God you serve is greater and the reward you will reap is priceless.

This is the prayer I am whispering over you today, “Jesus, take care of my friends as they step out in faith. Thank you that they are trusting you as they face risk. Reward them with courage and vision and do what only You can do – the impossible. Amen”

Thanks and Glory

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There are two things that will keep your thinking clear and your hearts filled with God’s divine light: giving God glory and giving God thanks.

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭21‬ NIV

When you make thanksgiving and worship a daily necessity you are fortifying your spiritual life and strengthening your mental one.

It is the difference between enduring and embracing your life.

What are you thankful for today?

Prepared

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A couple of years ago our family was taking a road trip from Sacramento to Anaheim California and as we drove we passed vineyard after vineyard.

After about the third one, I thought, “the vineyards look ready to bear fruit”.

Why?

Because they had been pruned back, braced up and almost stripped bare.

That is what Jesus said happens in the life of a believer. Not just once but over and over.

When God wants to grow you, He prunes you.

Over the years of driving down to So Cal with my family and driving by countless vineyards, I’ve seen them in all the seasons:

  • Full and heavy with fruit in the summer.
  • Rioting wild with leaves after the harvest in the fall.
  • Barren and unkempt in the winter.
  • Pruned back, braced up and almost stripped bare in the spring.

The most fruitful vines are those that are cared for and pruned down.

You may not equate being pruned with being cared for but the best of vine dressers do.

They lovingly and with ruthless care get the vineyard ready to bear fruit. They cut all the dead branches off. The dead leaves that have fallen to the ground are swept up and cleared out.

The main branch that grows up from the vine is stripped down and simplified.

They have braced up each one with wood or wire so that it will not break under the weight of its fruit later in the season.

Jesus called himself the vine, you the branch and the Father the vine dresser:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

If you feel like God is doing a pruning work in your life, it is because He is preparing you.

He is getting you ready to bear more fruit.

He is caring for you and nurturing you.

He is cutting off dead things that will rot and bring disease to your soul.

He is simplifying your focus and prompting you to define more clearly who you are in Christ.

He is pruning you, even cutting off some good branches that are stealing nutrients from the main one He wants to grow.

Your Heavenly Father loves you just the way you are and loves you so much that He won’t leave you that way.

He wants to see you grow into your full potential and knows that dead things must be cut off and good things that distract must go as well.

Don’t panic because you’re being pruned, stripped bare and braced up. Recognize it for what it is- God preparing you for the next season of your life.

It’s going to be good, my friend, so hold on and trust God!

So Close

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“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.””

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭91:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It can be exhausting to find rest.

If you look to a person to provide rest, a safe place to hide, a security in an insecure world – they will fail you because they are fallible human beings. At their best, they are as broken as you are and looking to you to find rest.

If you look to a job or career as a place of safety, security, or fulfillment you may have seasons of it but economies change, companies change and you change. They are at best a temporary place of financial security.

Even if you look to the church to be a place of rest, it can fail you because the church is made of people. The Word says to find rest in God, not the church. You go to church to learn, grow, give, serve, bless, be blessed and so on.

Go to Jesus for your salvation, your refuge, your direction, strength, peace and abundant life.

The church is only there to point you to Jesus.

The only true place of refuge, security, peace and rest is in the shadow of the Almighty God. What does that mean? It means that you stick close to God’s side. So close, in fact, you walk in His shadow.

Jesus came to show you how to live so close to the Father that you bask in the shadow of the Almighty. Then He made it possible to live this way by going to the cross.

Jesus cleared the way so you can walk this close with God.

He is your refuge.
He is your fortress.
He is your Father and you can trust Him.

He is your place of rest, not just when everything is going good but when everything is falling apart.

He is your refuge when you are tired of fighting the battle.

He is your fortress when the battle is too much to take.

My friend, whatever today brings – may you dwell in the shelter of the Most High God and stick so close that you live in the shadow of His love. 

With You

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God IS with you.

He is the creator of the universe and He is with you.

Present tense.

He does not reside in the past, however wonderful or horrible yours was.

He does not jump ahead to the future unknowables and fear filled wonderings.

He is here with you.

Now.

Right where you are.

The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah

Psalms 46:11 NKJV

The “Selah” at the end of the Psalm is a word that means “pause and think about it”.

Take this moment, this one right here,  to pause whatever you are in the middle of and think about the reality that God IS with you. It is a gift, a miracle and a privilege to be experienced every day.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

Philippians 4:4 NIV

May your day be filled with Selah, the awe, and wonder that God is with you and the desire to have a conversation with Him all day long.

Quiet Words

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“The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes ‬ ‭9:17 NIV‬

If you are looking for good advice, ask the quiet person you respect.

Ask the one who knows you and knows Jesus.

Ask the one who doesn’t offer their opinion at every opportunity but rather waits for permission to speak into your life.

Ask the questions you need answers to. If they are wise, they are safe. Seek them out.

If they are loud, manipulative, believe they are always right and get mad when you don’t do what they say…avoid them.

Don’t let fear stop you from getting the guidance you need.

You are worth it.

What do you need wisdom for today?

Who has God put in your path to help you?

 

Favor of Faithfulness

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“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This morning, my friend, I want to remind you to be faithful to what God has already asked you to do. I want to remind you that faithfulness and love can be your top priority.

What would your life look like if you finished what you started?

What if you did it without sacrificing love?

What if your behavior was driven by kindness and completed by uncomplicated faithfulness every day?

Not out of legalism but out of love.

Not to earn anything but to embrace everything God has already given you.

Are you missing out on the favor of faithfulness that God has for you?

It is better to be faithful in a few things than unfaithful in many.

What few things are you working on?