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Friday, April 28, 2017

Tacks In Our Shoes

So many people are miserable. No really. It's like their walking around with a tack in their shoe. A simple 30 minute trip to my local grocery store is a harsh reminder to me of the fallen world I live in. Before I even get to my parking spot, I hear one woman screaming profanities at another woman from her car. As I'm reaching for the paper towels, I can hear a husband yelling at his wife two aisles down from me. In the cereal aisle, I pass off a mother riding in an electronic cart with her obviously irritated daughter walking behind her who rolls her eyes and mumbles, "she'll be the death of me" as she passes by.

So miserable. I can see it in their faces. Thing is, I can see myself in each of them. I totally get it. It is exactly how I felt before I got saved. But it is even how I continue to feel at times when I don't let God love me. Just to be absolutely clear, I am definitely a Christian. I have asked Jesus into my heart and I am filled with the Holy Spirit. But it is still a daily choice to open myself up to His Love, His Word, and His Spirit and let Him renew me. It is a daily walk of faith to let His Joy replace my ragged outlook and changing emotions.

There are mornings that I feel just as miserable as the folks I see at the store. But because I have Jesus, I have a choice. I can grab hold of all that he purchased for me on the cross - not just my salvation, but LIFE abundantly. Though I live in this world, I don't have to be of this world. His Presence gives me wings to fly above all of it, so that I'm not just surviving this life, I am thriving in it because of his Mighty Power. 

God eagerly wants to take the tacks out of our shoes. Question is, are we willing to let Him do it.




Monday, April 24, 2017

Garden Critic?


When you walk into someone's garden, what's the first thing you notice - the weeds or the growing plants? Do you have the eyes of a critic or an encourager? A critic will always spot the weeds first and foremost and dwell on the negative. An encourager will always delight first in the growth that is taking place.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Clutter-Free!

Sometimes you just have to clean house. I don't mean do the dishes or sweep. I mean CLEAN OUT the house. Clear out the things that are simply taking up space and not serving any purpose. That souvenir cup we've never used that occupies a space in my cabinet. Kid's clothes that are two sizes too small still stuffed in the drawers. A kitchen utensil I've had for ten years that I'm still not even sure what I'm supposed to do with. I keep it purely because a relative said it belonged to a grandmother of the family. Ugh!

Besides the cluttered feeling I get, what really bothers me about holding onto things like this is the fact that I have no room for anything new. I don't even entertain the idea because I say, "But we have no room for it." I confess that there are even new things tucked away in my attic that I'm not using simply because I have no where to put them in the house. So, I must assess and make room.

I imagine God understands this cluttered dilemma when dealing with human hearts. He has so many wonderful things to fill us with. But when He first comes to us with His gifts of Love, He finds a 'house' that is full and has no room for His love. They are full of what the Bible calls 'the love of the world'. And when you are cluttered with the love of the world, there is no room for your Father to make His Home there.

Here's what 1 John says (in three different versions):

Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world - wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important - has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out - but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. 1 John 2:15-17 MSG

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:15-17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

‭‭I John‬ ‭2:15-17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
http://bible.com/114/1jn.2.15-17.nkjv

God does not condemn us for our cluttered hearts. He is a patient House Cleaner. But if you have said yes to a relationship with God, you can anticipate from Day One that God is going to get to work and start making space for His Love in your life. He's going to start picking things up from around your 'house' that are squeezing His Love out. He does this because He loves us and knows that all this cluttered junk we have in us is not going to give us Life and make us Fruitful.

And be prepared. There may be some big items in your 'home' that He may want to put out on the curb for pick up. One of the first things God cleaned out in my life was a boyfriend that was not going to be good for me in the long term. He was a nice guy, but he was not following Jesus. God knew if I continued on with this guy, there would slowly be less and less space in my 'house' for Him and it would squeeze out the love of the Father. And so I painfully agreed with God to let go of that item in my 'house'. It was the hardest thing for me to do. But in doing that, it opened up more space in me for Him to fill with His perfect will and I soon found the man of my dreams that loves the Lord! We will be married 16 years in May.

Remember, when God cleans us out, it's always with the intention of filling us with something new and something better. Don't let the devil and the world lie to you. God doesn't remove things to hurt us and make us feel punished. He removes them because He knows they are like parasites inside us that occupy and consume any kind of Kingdom purpose in our lives.

So, let God make room. Let Him begin to sort through the clutter of your 'home' and make more space for His Love. Let Him handle the big as well as the little items in your life. And remember, it's going to take time. Probably a lifetime. But the more willing you are to let go, the more decluttering He can do. And remember, He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). He won't stop until we are clutter-free!


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Moving Against What Moves Against Me

The Kingdom of God is an upside down Kingdom. It reminds me of Alice in Wonderland -- falling down in our world means falling upward there. Jesus spoke of this kind of opposite, upside down concept when He said things like, "Bless those who curse you" and "Love your enemies". The Kingdom of God is in contrary movement with the world. Therefore, as people of the Kingdom, our response to the things that are against us should also be contrary.

When there is great need and we don't see the provision, we don't sink into despair, but we do what Jesus did when He fed the 5,000. He moved in contrary motion to what His eyes were telling Him. He took what he did have and GAVE THANKS. Giving thanks was the opposite response. Giving thanks was the faith-filled response. And we know the result of that! He multiplied the bread and fish and fed them all -- with food left over!

When we don't see the victory in life, we don't move in agreement with that by giving up. We move in contrary motion by REJOICING in God's Faithfulness, knowing He will never let us down.

If we are having financial troubles and are struggling with debt, we don't close our fists in desperation and fear. Instead, we move in contrary motion to the debt by continuing (or beginning) to GIVE our tithes and offerings. Remember the widow that fed Elijah? She never stopped being generous, even down to her last meal. In doing this, she was moving against what moved against her, tapping into the economy of Heaven!

If we're experiencing anxiety, we don't find coping mechanisms. We move in contrary motion and make deliberate decisions to REST. We purposefully lay our head on His shoulder and TRUST-- choosing not to depend on our own wisdom and strength, but rather His. Rest may actually be one of the most powerful things we can ever do in Battle.

And when our hearts are heavy, we don't play the victim and reject His Comfort. We move opposite of our emotions and WELCOME JOY in our life. It's His Joy that strengthens us and lifts our heaviness, bringing Hope for a New Day. 

It's opposite thinking and contrary movement in an upside down Kingdom. And that is the Kingdom we are citizens of!