Grow Your Gift

“For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In California, we had a fireplace in our little living room that we would use to warm the house during the few cold, damp winter months. I loved the warmth but I loved the ambiance that it created. I actually had a terrible time keeping it going.  My husband was fabulous at it. I would watch him carefully build it, pay attention to it, poke at it, feed it and adjust it until it was a blazing fire warming the whole house. There were days when he would get the fire started for me in the morning and then leave. I would gaze into the flames for a few minutes and then get engrossed in reading or writing. I would forget about the fire until I realized it was only a smoldering pile of half-burnt wood. It gave me an appreciation of what “fanning the Flame” means.

When God gives you a gift, it comes in a spark. A small light with great potential but will not grow unless it is fed, prodded, poked and paid attention to.

Jesus gives it to you and expects YOU to fan it into a fire.

God gives you the gift but expects you to grow it.

The verse after “fan the flame” is “God has not given us a Spirit of fear”.  God knows that fear is the number one reason we don’t grow our gifts, so he gives us something more powerful than fear: Himself.

When God sparks a gift for you to use and grow in, He helps you grow it with three key things:

Power


Love


Self Discipline

Don’t focus on the fear, my friend. Focus on the Spirit of God within you and fan the flame of what Jesus has given to you.

What has God sparked in you?

What are you doing to grow it?

What is stopping you?

Covered

Today I want to remind you that you have a place of refuge in Christ. A fortress of strength to love from. A tower of trust to give from.

Live from the truth of who Jesus is and what he has done for you on the cross.

You are restored and redeemed. 

You are accepted and forgiven. 

You are cherished and loved. 

When the strong sun of adversity beats down, rest in Shaddai’s shadow. Tuck yourself into His side and remind yourself whose you are.

“You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: ‘GOD, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!’ That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards.

His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭91:1-5 MSG‬‬

When fear screams the loudest, run to the refuge of the cross. Jesus died for you so that you could have this: an unhindered relationship with your Father in heaven who has strong arms and strong love. 

Hide in Him. 

Fear nothing. 

He’s got you covered.

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? 

At a Crossroads

“Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take.”
Joshua‬ ‭1‬:‭1-9‬ MSG

You may be at a crossroads today.

You may be tired and worn out.

Maybe a bit discouraged and overwhelmed.

You know that the task before you is too big for you to do on your own.

God knows this too.

He doesn’t intend for you to do it on your own or by yourself.

He intends for you to move forward with Him.

To face the impossible challenge with Him.

To take the promised land back from the enemy and learn to live in it with Him.

So when you  are at this crossroad wondering if you should keep going forward or if you even have the strength to, hear these words from your Father in heaven:

“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.”

Joshua‬ ‭1‬:‭9‬ NIV

Should you move forward?

Yes
.

Can you?


Yes
.

Why?


Because you can do all things through Him who strengthens you. 

Impossible

“Come”, he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
Matthew‬ ‭14:28-29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It’s impossible to walk on water.

It’s impossible to feed 5000 people with a small boy’s lunch.

It’s impossible to heal a man born blind.

Jesus did all this and more while inviting his disciples to join him.

Jesus will invite you to do the impossible without expecting you to do it in your own strength. He knows you can’t do it without him. He fully expects you to fully depend on him for it. 

Peter wanted to be where Jesus was, which happened to be on the water.

Peter helped Jesus feed over 5000 people by doing what Jesus told him to do: pass out bread and fish.

Neither miracle came from Peter’s faith but from Peter’s focus. He was focused on following Jesus, on being where Jesus was and ended up doing impossible things.

When you follow Jesus, you will end up doing impossible things because of who He is not because of who you are.

Whew, that is a relief.

You are invited to do the impossible with Jesus.

Instead of fixating on how impossible it is to walk in the freedom Jesus paid for you to live in, just admit to yourself that it IS IMPOSSIBLE in your own strength.

Without Jesus there is no way you can forgive your abuser, be set free from your past, be transformed by the renewing of your mind, be free from guilt and condemnation, walk away from a lifetime of lies and bondage and embrace the truth that you are a precious cherished child of God who is free to live every day in the lavish love of Jesus Christ.

Don’t focus on what is impossible.

Don’t even focus on your own faith.

Focus on following Jesus and following through on what He has asked you to do.

Today I am praying for you to receive all Jesus has for you, to boldly go with Him to places you have never been before. To experience new life, new love, new freedom, new hope and a new normal. 

In Jesus Name, Amen.

The Whole Point of This

“The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love —love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God.”

1 Timothy‬ ‭1‬:‭5 MSG

The whole point is to love others and live your life open to God.

To simply love and simply be loved.

To love God and love people.

It is simple but certainly not easy.

Self-interest complicates it. It is difficult to simply love others when your innate human desire to self-protect kicks in.

It is easier to go with the flow of human nature than to intentionally choose God’s way.

It is easier to hedge your bets against hurt than it is to be vulnerable and reach out.

It is easier to build your case of good reasons to disconnect than it is to lay them down and trust Jesus.

Going down that road, you will find yourself isolated and self-righteous instead of connected and invested.

A life open to God means that you recognize when human nature high jacks the work God wants to do in you and through you.

Sin complicates it, brokenness contaminates it, unforgiveness taints it.

The cross simplifies it. 

The only way to deal with your human nature is to take it to the cross of Jesus.

The place He laid down His life and took up your sin.

He took your brokenness there so he could offer you wholeness here.

He took the bitterness of unforgiveness there, so he could offer you the sweetness of grace here.

The cross is where you can lay down your nature and freely take up his. 

Be set free to be who God created you to be by simply loving those who God brings to you- they need it as much as you do. 

What do you need to take to the cross today? 

What does living your life open to God mean to you? 

Who, in your world, desperately needs your love? 

You are His Masterpiece

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I know that today is April Fool’s Day but I want to tell you that God is not fooling around in your life. He is working on purpose for the purpose of making you a masterpiece.

I have a friend who is Master Craftsman and he made a beautiful table for us. I watched the process and saw how a simple piece of wood truly became a masterpiece.

It began with choosing the wood.

Then he cleaned it and prepared it to be formed into his vision.

Then it was set aside.

Then it was cut into the right shape and set aside.

Then it was pressed together and set aside.

When it was ready, it was sanded down and, you guessed it….. set aside.

While the table was being formed, he was also working on other parts he needed.  He formed the individual pieces of wood. Each part was chiseled down with great skill until it was a perfect size. Not too big, not too small as each one must be strong enough to stand under the great pressure of the final work.  He was preparing all the pieces to be put together as one and making sure they would fit together just perfectly.

When all the parts are ready, they are brought together. By force and pressure, they are joined by glue or secured into place by the hammer and nail.

Does the piece of art choose what it is formed into? No.

Does it choose when the work is finished? No.

Does it choose where it is placed? No.

Does it choose when it is used? No.

By the artist’s hand, it is created as a gift.

By the artist’s plan, it is given for use.

By the artist’s desire, it is used as needed.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”‭‭

Ephesians‬ ‭ 2:10 ‭NIV‬‬

My friend, you have been chosen and are being crafted into God’s masterpiece. You do not choose what your purpose is, where you are placed or how He uses you. You are His and He is working in you so that your life will be a gift and used for His glory. He has a purpose for you and it is His work that prepares you for it.

Rest in the process. Don’t try to hurry or skip a step. It is vitally important that you trust Him when you feel set aside, or under great pressure.

May you rest in His grace wherever you are in the process. May your focus be on your relationship with Jesus and let Him focus on growing you. Obey Him, trust Him and glory in His love.

You are amazing.

You have been chosen.

You are His Masterpiece in process.