Heavenly Peace

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As you count down the days to Christmas, take a minute to focus on what is important and in the craziness continue to refocus on your Creator.
It is His love you are celebrating.
This miraculous gift of the Son, this unquenchable love of the Father, this daily guide of the Spirit.
“for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬
Instead of replaying past moments or creating perfect scenarios in your head of the near future, let it be what it will be. 
Enjoy the imperfections of this day and those to come.
Know that everything “being perfect” will not create the feeling of fulfillment you are looking for.
You are looking for love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness…. and these are fruits of the Spirit (not fruits of the season). 
May you be filled with the Heavenly Peace of God’s Spirit as you walk among the complicated chaos of the humans around you.

Humble

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I know that the word humble can be a hard one to grasp.

First of all, it has nothing to do with being humiliated or feeling humiliated.

Second, it is not about doing but about being.

It is about identity and living out of it.

It is leadership but it doesn’t look like what you are used to.

It is knowing who you are in Christ as well as knowing who Christ is in you:

He is your Savior, redeemer, creator, all-powerful God.

He is your guide, strength, hope, and peace.

He is the great I AM and has unlimited power and reach.

Jesus is the greatest in heaven and made himself the least on earth. Not because He had forgotten who He was but because He knew with full confidence who He was.

In the first three chapters of Ephesians after encouraging the church in Ephesus to live out of their new identity in Christ, He tells them:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Being humble means you can lead others without being bossy.

Being humble means that you can be happy and content when you are not in control.

Being gentle means that you have unclinched your hands from steering the direction of your life and have let Jesus take the lead.

Being patient means bearing with those who don’t deserve your patience and loving people who are not easy to love.

This is about the little things that can undo our composure: the unexpected phone calls, the interruptions that add or postpone your to-do list, the change of plans because some people are unorganized.

These are the moments when being humble matters the most.

There are moments when being gentle makes all the difference.

These are the moments when others will recognize that the patience you are extending to them is not natural but God-given.

These are the moments Jesus shines bright through you.

May you so confidently know who you are in Christ that you are able to gracefully engage with all that challenges it today.

What Life Takes

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A great life requires quiet strength.

A strength that gets up when it is tired.

Does the right thing when it doesn’t feel like it.

Holds on when it wants to let go.

Pushes through when it would be easier to quit.

It isn’t pretty.

It is strong.

It has scars.

Quiet strength doesn’t stop.

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.”

Colossians 3:12- MSG

It is the kind of strength that Jesus demonstrated every day as He walked with mankind and made his way to the cross.

The life that God has called you to live requires a quiet strength and a steely determination.

You can’t do it without Jesus and He doesn’t ask you to.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,”  Ephesians 3:16 NIV

The quiet strength of God defies logic and grows in what seems to be an impossible place.

Don’t give up.

Stay faithful.

Draw strength from Jesus today and keep doing what God is calling you to do.

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”

Burden Bearer

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Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.

Psalm‬ ‭68‬:‭19‬ NIV

Every day brings something new:

  • New choices to make
  • New challenges to face
  • New fears to conquer
  • New burdens to bear

Every day brings old things:

  • Old memories that linger
  • Old mistakes still bearing consequences
  • Old fears that refuse to die
  • Old baggage that demands space and attention

God will bear your burdens every day. 

Old, new, heavy or light.

Everyday.

You may not know what burdens will be thrust upon you today but God does.

He stands with open arms and strong shoulders to bear them for you.

What new burden do you need to give to God? 

What old burden do you need to give to God? 

How can I pray for you today? 

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?

Heaven

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Earth is not our home- heaven is.

What does heaven look like? What does it feel like? I don’t know. But I do know what the Word says about the atmosphere God creates and place where He dwells:

“Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy are in His dwelling place.”

1 Chronicles 16:27 NIV

I may not have the details of what it looks like but I know that it is magnificent. More than that, joy and strength permeates the air and fills its rooms. Truthfully, wherever God is, He brings these attributes with Him. They are a part of who He is.

When I am feeling weak and my heart is heavy, I whisper these sweet words of invitation: Father, may your presence fill this space, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Where He is, strength abounds and joy lives.

Heaven is a real place and someday you will be there.

Until then, may you experience God’s presence here on earth and be filled with such peace and deep joy that it makes you homesick for heaven.

What You Can Do

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Are you living in contentment?

Paul says he has learned the secret of being content:

“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.”

Philippians 4:12, 13 NIV

Easy to say, difficult to live, but NOT impossible to do.

YOU CAN do it.

Being discontent can become a way of life and a mindset that will sabotage your joy and peace at every turn. It drains your energy and distorts your vision.

It is NOT God’s will for your life.

Q. What is the secret to being content no matter what is happening in your life?

A. Looking to Jesus for strength. 

Because of Christ in you, you can do whatever is placed before you.

You can be content with:

where you are,
what you are doing,
with your body,
with your age,
with your job,
financially strapped or prosperous,
physically healthy or not,
in conflict or in peace.

YOU CAN do all this and more thru Christ who STRENGTHENS you.

By yourself, you can’t manufacture contentment. You think you need a miracle so you can get something you want. The bigger miracle is to be content with what you already have and trusting God to give you what you need.

There are a lot of things you can’t do right now but one can do is trust God to give you the strength you need for today.

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.