Keep a Firm Grip

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“Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:23 ‭MSG

What promise is keeping you going right now?

For me, it is this one:

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It reminds me that even though it is my life, what He does through me is His work. It is His work that He started, His work to continue, His work to complete.

It is a reminder that it is not my work that completes me but His.

It encourages me to keep my focus on the relationship I have with Him because that is my work.

What a great job description: grow my relationship with God and let Him grow me.

What promise keeps you going?

What word are you holding on to right now?

Jesus is able and faithful to keep His promises to you.

Hold Him with a firm grip and don’t let go.

Hold On

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I want to encourage you today that no matter how dark the situation is, believe that God can do something in it anyway.

I want to challenge you to dare to trust Him in the desert – there is a promised land and you are on your way to it.

My prayer for you is that like Abraham you will decide to live today not based on what you can’t do but on what God can do through you. His power sustaining you to walk, to love, to care and to be fully alive even though you may feel mostly dead inside.

“Abraham was first named ‘father’ and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing.

When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:17-18‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Long before Abraham saw the fruit of the promise, he believed God anyway. Though everything in his life seemed to indicate otherwise, he lived his life, every day, not looking at the impossibility of the promise but in the possibility of God.

I am sure that there were times that Abraham barely believed. I know that there were days that he was only holding on to a bare thread of hope…but he held on.

Hold on, my friend, you may only have a thread of hope, but in Christ that thread is stronger than what you face and will hold against that which you fear.

I know you don’t see how it will happen but God does.

Hold on.

 

Impossibility

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In Exodus 14 the Israelites were stuck between the sea before them and their former slave masters coming to recapture them. It was an impossible situation.

“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 new found 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 be afraid (don’t let fear dictate your decisions).

2. Stand still and watch the LORD rescue you (stop trying to fix the situation yourself. Let God work).

The LORD Himself will fight for you. 

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

Trust Him and watch what He is about to do.

Stay Salty

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“You are the salt of the earth.”
Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭13‬ NIV

Salt has been used as valuable currency, it is a precious food preservative and it is an additive that enhances flavor.

Wherever God has placed you, whoever He has surrounded you with, whatever job He has given you to do, He has you there for a purpose and it is not as complicated as you think it is.

You are there to add value. That alone is a gift that so many people are craving- simply the recognition that they are valued and they are valuable to God– so valuable that Jesus paid the ultimate price to love them.

You are there to be a precious preservative to the world you live in and in the work you do. Preserve respect, show dignity and honor those around you.

You are there to enhance the essence of who God has created them to be. When you celebrate what God has put in them, you liberate them to see it as well.

May God shake you up and pour you out for someone who desperately needs to know that they are precious and valuable to God. May you bring honor with you and enhance every relationship you engage in today. 

Stay salty.

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? 

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.

Pilgrimage

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A pilgrimage is defined as a journey to a sacred place.

When you are pursuing a thriving relationship with God, you are not just on a pilgrimage, you are living one.

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭84:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Every place you invite God into becomes a sacred place.

Your home.

Your job.

Your relationships.

The pilgrimage for a Christian is not to go somewhere that God has been but to allow God to be with you where you are right now.

In your weakness.

In your bitterness.

In your frail humanity.

Into the reality of your life.

Jesus comes in and gives you what you do not deserve but cannot live without. He gives you love, forgiveness, strength, peace, joy, hope and eventually eternity.

Where do you need to invite Jesus into today?

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.

Faith is A Verb

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Faith is not a feeling.

Faith is a believing – the type of believing leads to action.

A faith that is silent in word and deed is no faith at all.

Do something.

Do the thing that faith is prompting and fear is resisting.

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions?

James 2:14 NLT

What is God challenging you to do?

What fear is stopping you?

God is bigger than your fear and has a purpose for your faith.

He needs you to be who He has called you to be and do what He has asked you to do.

It isn’t about you, it is about who your obedience will impact.

It is time to put your faith into action.

Home After Irma

It took us 17 hours to drive home from White House Tennessee to Cape Coral Florida and the relief of pulling into our own driveway at 2am last Thursday morning was palatable. Then that strange energy took hold of us all, cat included, and we had to see, check, assess where and how everything was. The obvious damage was to our screens out back and a slight musty smell to our abandoned home. It needed to be aired out. We had power but the water pump would not work. My husband used an extension cord to get it power so we would have water in the morning. What a good man.
Morning came too soon and I dragged myself out of bed to get ready for work. Moments of sheer relief and unbelief at the reality that I was standing in my own bathroom washed over me. I was exhausted but thankful. Felt like a zombie but glad I had a bed even as I had walked by it as I went out the door.
The city had a beat up, blown over, debris-strewn look to it and a strange quietness that permeated as the brutal morning sun baked the land after Irma. There was little to no gas available and most of the stores are still dark.
Remarkably, Cape Coral sustained minor damage compared to other parts of the state. The next community over was devastated and may not have power for weeks.  Convoy of Hope was in the area two days after Irma struck and people from our church helped distribute food and basic necessities to those who needed it most. One of my ministry leaders, had 10 people living with her and some still there until their own homes have power. She is one of many amazing people who have opened their hearts and homes to help others survive this storm.
When I got to work, we began to share our stories. Some stayed to ride out the storm, some thought they would stay but in the wee hours of the morning hit the road to evacuate and others evacuated as soon as Irma was announced. Not one person had an easy time of it. Everyone looked exhausted. Everyone was exhausted. Later when Bobby and I ventured to Sam’s Club later for a couple necessities and I got in line to get a Family Pack Pizza deal, only they were out of pizza.  I stepped out of line, put my phone away and simply took a moment to look at the faces of those around me. What I saw was that we were a store of exhausted people. We are an entire state of exhausted people. Whether in homes, shelters, hotels, with friends or families near or far away, all of us anxiously watched the news stations tell the developing story of a storm that did not behave. Irma did not do what they expected and danced around predictions as she roared over the islands.  She surprised and terrified the experts and held us all enraptured at satellite images of the biggest hurricane ever recorded.  I heard one expert say that Irma was acting like a teenager.
We were at a friends home in Tennessee as we watched Anderson Cooper report from Fort Meyers on Sunday.  My son walked in and said, “Hey, I know where he is at – I think we filmed announcements there”. I looked over at my husband and said,” You know it is bad when Anderson Cooper is in your neighborhood.” I was captivated by the crazy reporter who stood in the hurricane force winds and horizontal rain in Naples. He was a visual representation of our homes, churches, businesses, trees. But when the eye came over Naples and he went down to the street, that was truly remarkable. The sky cleared, the colors heightened, the wind rested and it was quiet for a few minutes. And then Irma continued up the state.
We are in recovery mode now and all working to get life back to normal. Compassion is tactile and everyone I meet is working hard to help those whose recovery is slow going. I am relieved that the storm surge did not overtake 3/4 of Cape Coral’s homes and businesses. I am heartbroken for those whose communities were flooded and ravaged by this massive storm.  I am amazed at the power and awe of nature.
I am blessed to live in such a beautiful place, not just because of the gorgeous beaches but because of the generous hearts of the people that live here.
 And I am glad to be home after Irma.

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