Tag Archives: life

Even though _______________, I will have joy!

Is life challenging for you today?  Not necessarily in a bad way.  Life can feel heavy whether we are facing unfortunate things or really great things.

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The Lord recently led me to this passage during our church staff prayer time.  At the time it seemed kind of random.  Then it appeared again two days later in a devotional book I had not picked up in a while.  I’ve learned over the years that when things like that happen it’s more likely to be God trying to get our attention than simply irony.  So I felt I should write about it.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!     – Habakkuk 3:17-19  (NLT)

Do you see how many times the author says, “Even though?”   3 times.

Even though (insert negative situation)….YET I will rejoice in the Lord!

I wanted to share mine with you today.

“Even though God is calling me to something overwhelming…..”

“Even though I find myself falling short at home, work, and in my health…..”

“Even though despite my best efforts, I cannot seem to get caught up…..”

In the midst of all that, YET I WILL REJOICE!

I’m sharing this to be authentic, hoping it might encourage others.  Now it’s your turn.  Take a minute to complete 3 of these for your self.  “Even though __________________________

So…if you are feeling overwhelmed by either horrible or great things today, let me encourage you.  Our God is our strength!  Period.  End of story.  Our circumstances are always changing.  God, however, does not.

Leave me a comment below.

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Where are the miracles today?

photo by: insidetheshrink-dailygrace.blogspot.com

photo by: insidetheshrink-dailygrace.blogspot.com

During our weekly staff Crave (prayer) recently, I was reading and praying through Romans 6:1-14.  The passage really addresses the issue of God’s powerful grace and our freedom in this new life with Him.  And that sin no longer has power over you and I.

As I meditated on these words for a while, I wrote down this single thought.

Our transformed lives should be the most glaring ‘sign & wonder’ that points others to the evidence and saving grace of Jesus!

Our church has been recently looking at many big questions that believers are wrestling with today.  One of those is the issue of signs and wonders, and why we don’t tend to see God’s hand at work today like when He parted the Red Sea or fed over 5,000 people with a child’s lunch.

Here’s what we’re discovering.  He is!

For a drug addict, prostitute, criminal, or perpetual liar to be transformed and used to advance God’s kindgom is truly a miracle…..a modern-day ‘sign and wonder.’

So, here is a question for you.

Where have you seen God working a ‘sign and wonder’ in your life or in the life of someone you know?  Think…look for it.  He is still performing the miraculous today.  All we need to do is learn to notice it!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Comment below or leave me a voicemail.

God bless!

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Who’s approval are you looking for?

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You’ve heard or read the stories before. About the young person who goes the extra mile to become the absolute best football player, dancer, or academic student they can be in order to gain the approval of a parent or other adult role model. Often, they don’t even like the activity they are attempting to excel in. Their efforts are solely for approval.

Many of us take this issue into our adult lives, don’t we? And the wrong reasoning driving our efforts leads us down wrong paths. “What’s so wrong with trying to do good in the eyes of others around us?” you might ask. Absolutely nothing….until our efforts become so much more people-driven than God-driven that we one day find ourselves out of touch with His will for our lives.

Please understand that even when we are constantly striving to gain favor with God, there will be people close to us who are not content with our actions or choices. And that’s OK. Say that with me…..“That’s OK!”

Philippians 3:14-15 reads…
I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you.

As we (believers) mature in our walk with Jesus we learn to pursue the promises of God over the approval of others.

Who’s approval have you been seeking over God’s recently? Take time today to acknowledge that and offer it to God. Ask Him for forgiveness and that He would point out steps to change course.

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Don’t Worship Your Faith

photo by: ideachampions.com

A thought occurred to me recently.  We all know that taking our eyes off of Jesus is something most believers battle against.  When we’re being mindful of this, however, we are usually focusing on bad things.  You know….greed, lust, hate, envy, etc.  But try this one on for size.  Worship of our faith.  Might I suggest that we can almost slip into an area of ‘Idol Worship’ when it comes to our faith.  Check out this passage and I’ll explain.

‘For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ…’  1 Thessalonians 5:9a  (NLT)

The means to our salvation is Jesus via the Father’s love and grace for you and I.  Salvation is a free gift, and we should definitely be thankful for it.

BUT…

…there’s more to living the Christian life than salvation.  Its the beginning of our journey with Christ.  It is through our faith in Him that we receive salvation.   Its the foundation.  Its the initial stroke of paint on the Picasso of our new life with Him.  Now for the caution!  Let us not become selfish and complacent with our daily living.  God calls us all to more.  He has more to offer you.  Our faith is not ours to hoard.  Simply stated (and not as simply carried out), Jesus longs for us to learn more about Him…and take others along with us.  THIS is Christian community.

How are you living beyond your faith?  What have you learned from others around you who do this well?  Share your comments below with others.

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Your Tears Move the Heart of God

Photo by Byron Jorjorian

Are you aware of the promises of God in your life?  He often does things to assure us of His providence in our lives.  Why?  Because we are simple humans and He knows we need/desire to know that He’s tangibly at work in us every day.  Read this interaction He has with King Hezekiah.

About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.’”  When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, O Lord, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly.  Then this message came to Isaiah from the Lord:  “Go back to Hezekiah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears.  I will add fifteen years to your life,  and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria.  Yes, I will defend this city. “‘And this is the sign from the Lord to prove that he will do as he promised:  I will cause the sun’s shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial of Ahaz!’”  So the shadow on the sundial moved backward ten steps.   -Isaiah 38:1-8 (NLT)

First of all, how would you like to be told BY GOD that you are terminally ill and to update your will and start your good-byes?  Second, how amazing would it be to know…to really, truly know…that the heart of the creator of the universe was moved by your prayer and tears?

Then, there’s the miracle as proof that God would do as He said.

He’ll cause the shadow on the sundial to ‘move ten steps backward.’  There’s a separate incident mentioned in Joshua 10 where the sun and moon stood still for a day!  As with this event, however, we really don’t know for sure HOW God did this.  People have been arguing this (theologically and scientifically) for centuries and have yet to definitively explain it.  But the key to remember here is that God blessed Hezekiah with a miracle to prove His word.  To back up His promise.  And He doesn’t always do this.  His word should be enough for us.  Hezekiah was blessed to have this.

What about you?  What has God promised you…and has He proved it to you somehow?  Share your comments below.

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Your donkey is warning you!

Photo credit: Alexander Kalina

That’s right!  Long before Shrek and Dr. Doolittle, a donkey actually spoke to it’s owner.  In the Bible, (Numbers 22:21-34) there’s this dude named Balaam and his donkey.  In this particular story, God is not thrilled with the direction Balaam is heading.  Now, being the merciful and loving God that He is, God sends and Angel with a BIG sword to block his path.  Apparently, Balaam is so oblivious to the things of God and consumed with his own agenda at the moment that he doesn’t even notice this gift of God….but his simple little donkey does!  Three times his donkey reacts to the Angel in a way that makes Balaam absolutely furious.  So furious that he violently beats the animal each time.  Its a good thing he didn’t see the Angel and tried to beat the crap out of it!

Have you ever hit or kicked your car after it breaks down or gets a flat tire?  I have, and this is the kind of setting Balaam is encountering.  I would hope to notice an Angel standing in the middle of the highway before my car starts chatting with me.  God, may I never become so dense and self-centered that I can’t notice your hand directing my steps.

All of us are faced with these moments from time to time in our journey with God.  Sometimes we CAN’T notice God’s warning signs when we are heading somewhere we shouldn’t.  Other times, we simply WON’T!  We know we’re heading in a direction opposite the direction of Jesus, yet we continue…much like Jonah.

So, do you know if your life direction is pleasing God today?  If your answer is ‘No’ or ‘I don’t know’….begin looking for signs to direct you.  Spend time in prayer and in the Word.  Ask those believers around you who know well.  God will probably not use a talking Donkey or a blinding, majestic Angel.  Though often much more subtle, He DOES speak crystal clear to us when we are intently listening for His voice.

How has God spoken to you before?  Share your story with others here.  Comment below.

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Don’t stop moving!

When I was in High School, I took this special class called ‘Reading, Writing, and Running.’  The name pretty much sums it up.  For the first thirty minutes the class would leave the school campus and run.  We would run different routes assigned each day, averaging anywhere from 4-7 miles.  When we returned to class we would spend the remainder of the class reading magazine articles related to running, and then journaling about our running experience that day.  To be completely honest, I signed up for the class because of its apparent lack of academic demand.  What I didn’t think about was the amount running….and I’m not a runner.  I hated that class.

It was hot and sunny one day, and I remember getting overly exhausted very quickly.  I would run for 5 or 6 minutes,  lay down on the ground, and try to catch my breath until I could get back up and begin running again.  I continued this cycle a few times until the teacher noticed me during the motionless ‘ground’ portion of my cycle.  He said something to me that has stuck with me over the years.  “When you feel like you need a break from the pace you are running, DON’T STOP MOVING!”  He said, “Just slow down to a moderate walk.  This keeps you from cramping up and maintains your heart rate until you are ready to run again.”

On a physical level, this really helped to improve my stamina.  In recent years I’ve come to realize this timeless nugget of wisdom also applies to our spiritual stamina.  In those times that we find ourselves completely drained from volunteering, dealing with life’s unpleasant speed bumps, or even flying Mach 2 on the wings of happiness….we can come to a point of exhaustion in which all we can think to do is stop and drop everything.  When this happens, keep moving!  Don’t get me wrong.  Take time to pause, evaluate, and pray.  But refrain from giving up.  Slow your pace down and spend some time in God’s Word.  His Spirit will give you your breath back.  You will have the strength to endure.

Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.  But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary. 
They will walk and not faint.     Isaiah 40:30-31  (NLT)

Are you current lying in the grass, sweating profusely and trying to catch your breath?  What would it take for you to get up and just begin a slow, upright movement forward this week?

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