Gracefully

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“It was God giving me the work to do and God giving me the energy to do it.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:10-11‬ ‭MSG

It is a sweet moment, a defining moment even: The moment you realize that the work of God doesn’t depend on you but that you get to join in the work of God by depending on Him more and more.

“So whether you heard it from me or from those others, it’s all the same: We spoke God’s truth and you entrusted your lives.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:10-11‬ ‭MSG‬‬

What only God can do: set people free, love them relentlessly, deliver them consistently, fill them with His Spirit and His Love.

What only you can do: point people to Jesus.

Love people grace-full-y, speak God’s truth and then let Him do the heavy lifting of changing people’s lives.

Impossible Situations

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It was an impossible situation.

The Israelites were stuck between the sea and their former slave masters coming to recapture them:

“But Moses told the people,

‘Don’t be afraid.

Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today.

The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.

The LORD himself will fight for you.

Just stay calm.”’

‭‭Exodus‬ ‭14:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Hemmed in by the mountains on both sides, they had no way out and no way forward. Their newfound freedom seemed fleetingly short and ultimately doomed.

They knew that God had delivered them from slavery but little more. They had not been free long enough to learn how powerful He is. They didn’t know that He would fight for them, split the sea before them and rescue them from an impossible situation.

They did not know God…yet.

When you don’t want to go back but don’t know how you are going to go forward, trust God and:

1. Don’t let fear dictate your decisions.

2. Don’t run around trying to figure out what to do. Stop. Pray. Listen. Stand still and watch the LORD work.

When going forward looks like an impossibility, God is not punishing you, He is teaching you more about Himself. 

The LORD Himself will fight for you. 

Trust Him and watch what He is about to do.

Made for Freedom

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Don’t let anyone or anything con you into believing you are a slave again.
Don’t believe the enemy’s lies that you have no choice or power to say NO to old habits, old thought patterns, old temptations, or old addictions or that you have no hope of changing, growing, and transforming.
When the Son sets you free, you are free. 
You are free from the power of sin and it is not your master any more.
So then why does it take so long to learn how to live in this freedom? Why struggle? 
It is because while your spirit has been released from the contract of sin and is legally free, your flesh has been well trained by its former slave master.
The flesh has old habits, temptations, and thought patterns grooved into it through experience and years of practice. 
It takes time, experience and perseverance to create the new grooves of freedom. 
Just as a bird is made to fly, a child of God is made to live in freedom.
However, it is up to you to claim your freedom and learn to walk in it.
It is up to you to learn how to fly with the wings of freedom God has already given you.
“So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free”.  John 8:36 AMP
What old lies are sapping your strength today?
 
What old habits need to be left behind?
 
What new freedom do you long to live in?
Today is a good day to live in freedom…unquestionably.
May your mind be clear, your heart encouraged and your determination to live in the freedom that has been bought for you by the blood of Jesus be fierce in you today. 

Let Us Dare

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“Let us dare to read, think, speak and write”

– John Adams

For this and so much more, I am celebrating America today.

Not because we are perfect but because we are tenacious.

Not because we have it all together but because we are willing to try and keep trying to get it together.

Not because life is easy but because life has always been hard, will not get easier but we are willing to work hard for life.

I celebrate today because I can write, think, speak and pray out loud as an American.

Tonight as I watch the fireworks being lit and fired, I will be thankful that I am alive today in this country at this time.

I will pray that this year I will read ferociously, speak fearlessly, think authentically and write faithfully because I have the freedom to do so.

“I’m thanking you, GOD, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders. I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I’m singing your song, High God.” Psalm 9:1, 2 MSG

What are you going to do with your freedom this year?

 

 

Not Empty Handed

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“And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed.”

Deuteronomy 15:13 NIV

My friend, when you have been released to live a new life in Christ you do not begin your new life empty-handed.

In the Old Testament when God laid out to the Israelites how their community would work, He put in a clause to assure that those who found themselves in desperate financial situations would have a way out. If they sold themselves into slavery to survive, they would not have to stay a slave forever – it could only last 7 years. Then their owner must release the slave and send them away with the means to begin a new life.

It was called The Lord’s Release.

Jesus is the fulfillment of The Lord’s Release.

God will use what the enemy meant for harm to bring you good and fill your hands with blessings.

God will give you what you need when you need it.

You are not empty handed as a child of God.

He may not show you the end of the new road you are on but He will give you the strength to take each step on it.

You are provided for, equipped and empowered to walk in freedom in Christ today.

Go after all God has called you to do!

Tenderhearted

“A tenderhearted person lives a blessed life; a hardhearted person lives a hard life.”
‭‭Proverbs  ‭28:14‬ ‭MSG‬‬

You were created to be tenderhearted, to feel life.

To feel the good, the bad, the joy, the sorrow and all the moments in-between.

It seems easier to let your heart go hard when the hurt gets overwhelming and when the betrayal stings.

Don’t do it.

Don’t succumb to the temptation to become brittle and bitter.

Don’t stay stuck there, dwelling on what happened or what should have happened. Don’t let that shape your future.

Fight for a tender heart.

It means that you have to feel the pain and process it. It means you have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with God, not without Him.

It means that you grieve what you have lost all the way through to acceptance so you can live after it.

Stay tender-hearted, my friend.

Don’t let life (or other people’s choices) rob you from living in full color.

Your future will thank you for it.

Jesus died for you to live in it.

God will walk with you all the way through it.

Lord give me thick skin and a tender heart. 

When to Pray

“From inside the fish, Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.”

Jonah 2:1 NIV

When is the best time to pray?

– when you have run from God.

– when you have been disobedient and rebellious.

– when you have done your own thing, your way and find yourself in the center of a  devastating storm.

– when you realize that God is BIGGER than your fear and STRONGER than the storm.

– when you are in the very center of something that is far bigger than you and you have no power to get out of it.

– when you are ready to let go of your preconceived ideas of what God is calling you to and willing to serve wherever you are, with whatever God has given you, right now. 

When is the best time to pray?

NOW… whatever your “now” looks like.

What’s keeping you from prayer? 

What have you been running from? 

What is Jesus asking you to do right now? 

Grave Tending

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“The life you THINK you want could be stopping the life God MEANT for you to live.”
– Matthew Barnett

“So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There is nothing in it, nothing at all. The best thing to is to give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It is adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike, ‘what’s next Papa?”’.

Romans 8:12-15 MSG

Having dreams and goals are vitally important to help us make choices, take the right opportunities and say no to the wrong ones. But even “the dream” can become an idol when we refuse to surrender it to God. We can easily slip into a habit of worshipping the “what if” and “what may be” or “what I want it to be.”

When you are tending regrets and spending all your energy in the cemetery of unmet needs, goals or dreams, it is difficult to participate in a new life in Christ. The verse above is worded in the immediacy of now and is a moment by moment adventure.

When God sends you a vision of your future, it is to get you moving in the right direction. When He lays a burden on your heart it is to pull towards His purpose for you. He does not lift the call, but He will refine and redefine it constantly.

“What’s next Papa?”

I will leave this “dream” in His hands. I will live in anticipation of fulfilling it daily in any way He chooses and in the opportunities before me. I will give the past a decent burial, even the good things that never happened. Those are trickier, I think.

I don’t want anything less. I will get up and walk out of this emotional cemetery and with a skip to my step ask God, “What is next?”.

What grave have you been tending? What is the “dream” that is holding you back from being fully present in the beautiful life Jesus has for you?

 

Grave Clothes

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Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

John‬ ‭11‬:‭43-44‬ NIV

Lazarus was dead. His body wrapped tightly in grave clothes and laid to rest. The world had already moved on, the end of the story already written. It was over.

But the story was not over for God.

Just when Mary and Martha thought that it was too late, Jesus came and did the most unexpected thing: He raised Lazarus from the dead. He had someone roll away the stone and then called him out.

In one of the most remarkable passages of Scripture, Jesus speaks to death and it is defied. It is powerless before the commanding Word of the Son of God.

You may think that your story has already been written.

That it is over.

That where you are right now is where you will always be.

That your usefulness, your marriage, your ministry, your job, your purpose, your hopes lay dead and lifeless at your feet.

Jesus still defies death. You may think the story is over but God doesn’t.

He will call life from death and unbind the grave clothes that cling.

He will call your name, remind you who you are and whose you are.

He will change the ending. 

He will resurrect relationships, restore callings, redefine life as you know it and move you into the light.

The story of Lazarus is more than an example of a miracle, it is a proclamation of the power of Jesus to raise the dead things in us and a reminder to us today that all death means nothing in the light of His love.

When fear rises up to tell you that your story is already over, begin to loudly proclaim that in Christ your story has only just begun.

Grudges

Grudges clutter your soul with bitterness and weigh your heart down.

Living hurt because people lied to you in the past does not help you live in peace now.

Nursing the anger of dealing with people whose pride cut your life to shreds doesn’t help you heal but it does keep you emotionally wounded.

When you forgive someone, you are not denying what they did.  In fact, you are assigning responsibility for their actions to them. You are acknowledging the truth of what happened and how it impacted you.

Forgiveness is vital to the soul, it is balm and healing, relief and redeeming.

Letting go of a grudge is vital because you are valuable.  

What do you need to let go of today?

Who do you need to forgive and give to God?