October 31st: What Do You Shine For?

As the weather turns chilly and the leaves begin to fall, the season of family and friends gather prepares to begin. Yet, as we prepare our best new recipe for the big dinner or look for a little token gift to remind someone special that we care, may we stop and remember what this season is all about. Well, not simply this season, but as a believer in Jesus Christ, all seasons share one major thread running through each and every day of the year; our testimony of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

 

In light of the upcoming date of Halloween, may we take a minute to step back and observe the date from a Christian perspective, rather than pagan. There is something powerful about celebrating what the Lord has done on various days—and not allowing our Gregorian calendar to tell us what the day should signify. If we know a bit about the day in respect to Christian history, rather than its fame as a day of dressing up as ghosts and asking for candy from strangers. There is much to spur on conversations of faith with those celebrating Halloween, if we just know our history! Let’s take a quick time travel to learn the facts. Ready to travel back in time? Awesome, let’s go!

 

The year is 1517 and the date is October 31st. We are in Wittenburg, Upper Saxony which is within the Holy Roman Empire. During this time in history, the church has been marred with a reputation of bribery schemes and grave injustices, better known as the sale of indulgences. A German Monk by the name of Martin Luther has reached his breaking point and addresses Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg through a list of objections to the current issues widely known and recognized within the church. This letter titled “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” was nailed to the door of the All Saints’ Church. This letter, which would later be better known as the Ninety-Five Theses, would play a crucial role in the Protestant Reformation.

 

Among the objections, Martin Luther states in Thesis 86 “Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?”

Martin Luther also rejected the notion that by dropping money in the church coffers, one was able to buy entrance into heaven. Luther recalled that Jesus Christ is the only way to get to heaven and no amount of money, or lack there of, was going to change one’s personal access to Almighty God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Now, in 2017, it is our turn to take a stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:10-13). Regardless of what others may tell you or try to sell you—salvation is found through confessing our wrong doings to God above and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ alone (1 John 1:9). There is no other way by which humanity can be saved, but through the living Son of God, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21, Acts 10:43, Acts 13:26 & 1 Timothy 2:1-6).

 

“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”  1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NASB)

 

As a Christian, may we rejoice that our souls are not stuck in some form of limbo until someone can earn enough money to absolve the debt of our sins and ensure the way to paradise. Praise be to our Victorious and Risen Savior, Jesus Christ that all the filth, shame, perversion and unspeakable deeds committed by all humanity were thrust upon Him as He died upon a cross, between two criminals, to pay each and every one of our debts in full—once and for all (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). Hallelujuah! May we rejoice as followers of Jesus Christ, and use this season of plastic witches, sparkling paper bats and candy eye balls to recall our true reference point for October 31st. It is not defined by souls floating around aimlessly and waiting for the indulgences of another to get them through the gates of heaven, but firmly standing upon the Word of God that claims for each and every believer in Jesus Christ that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:7-10). Happy Reformation Day, church family, may we also be people who hold fast to the words of the Holy Bible; regardless of how many or how few are standing at our sides.

 

Jesus Christ called us to be His light to this dark world (Matthew 5:13-16). May we honor the Lord through speaking the truths of God’s Word to a world who is utterly confused on what pure love should look like and many are sincerely desperate to experience the real thing. Perhaps this is written for you today. What if someone you personally interact with will see pure and godly love lived out for the first time? What if, by caring for others who do not agree with you politically, economically, socially, or otherwise—what if you were used by God Almighty to help introduce someone to the Lord Jesus Christ for the first time? Sounds too big or too crazy?

May I encourage you this day to realize that our words hold weight, our actions leave impact and the love of Jesus Christ will long outlive us all. Praise God! May we bring all people to Jesus Christ who is in fact, the lover, rescuer and redeemer of every soul who confesses their inadequacies and turns to Him as the Lord of their lives (John 3:16). This is a truly exciting time to be a believer of Jesus Christ, may we not throw away the opportunities given to us each day to make an eternal impact in the lives of those around us for Jesus Christ alone is worthy!

 

1Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 4For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

      5Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?6This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify: 8the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

      16If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.

      18We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

21Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

1 John 5:1-21 (NASB)

 

 

All historical information regarding Reformation Day was gathered from this site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformation_Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Artificial Flowers: The Acceptance of Other

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 

   2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NASB)

 

In recent days, it has become clear to me that many of those who claim Jesus Christ as their Savior, do not like to hear much about the reasons for which He came. For example, the topic of sin is uncomfortable, for it cannot be covered in name brand apparel or given a prescription drug to forever numb the pain. Another such topic of discomfort is that of hell. The point that really strikes me is that these topics should indeed cause discomfort. These realities should indeed cause each soul to pause and ask God Almighty where we stand regarding sin and hell. You see, to act as if one has never sinned—is to lie to oneself—and forgo the offer of eternal life.

 

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)

 

One must see their own depravity and their own shortcomings in order to more fully realize the sheer weight and gravity of the offense of our rebellion against the One and only Holy God of all things. The Bible assures us that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This is why we must understand that because of God’s amazing grace and unabashed love for His creation, humanity, He sent His One and only Son, Jesus Christ to rescue us from a course bound for destruction that was never intended for us.

 

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

Romans 3:21-26 (NASB)

 

The Bible clearly teaches, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). And as the pages unfold and the vast beauty of God’s detailed and complex creation is brought to life, we are first introduced to Adam and Eve within the perfect land called Eden (Genesis 2:7-10, Genesis 2:21-25). God had perfect fellowship with them and would daily walk in the garden with them, but as rebellion entered this perfect place, through the free will of Adam and Eve, guilt and shame also entered (Genesis 3). Only perfection could be in the presence of Almighty God. Thus, as Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, the epic and celestial rescue operation, of God sending His own Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16) to atone for the screw ups and rebellion of each and every human heart (Isaiah 53:5), was set into motion.

 

Hell was never intended for humanity, but rather for the devil and his minions (Matthew 25:41). Thus, we must be burdened, as believers in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, to tell others to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from a place that was never intended for them (Acts 16:31). Jesus clearly spoke of the reality of hell and the excruciating torment of hell for all who do not believe (Luke 16:19-31, John 5:39-47). Ladies, remember that the devil and his minions are determined to destroy all joy here on earth and cause each heart to reject God’s offer of eternal life through the penalty paid in full, on our behalf, by Jesus Christ the Son of God.

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10 (NASB)

 

Allow us to bring this point home: Ladies, rather than settling for an artificial flowers of carnal love or the inaccurate depiction of romance, may we repent from deception committed through smart phone screens and exploding text chains and return to the Lord who sees the value of each precious soul and poured out His own blood to rescue and redeem (1 John 4:9-10). Rather than believing that our culture or Hollywood knows best how to align our priorities and the allegiance of our souls, may we repent and return to the Lord for He promises plans filled with hope and a future for all who trust in Him (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Rather than settling for fashion that depicts the female body as a playground and shows the onlooker that the one wearing such articles only sees herself through the eyes of sex, may we repent and return to the Lord for He has so much better in store for you (Isaiah 61:10, Romans 13:14).

 

The time is now, Ladies. Let us not accept artificial lifestyles any longer. The King of Kings has called and created us for something much grander than simply updating an internet feed or chat chain; we have been called to righteousness as we advance the name of Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection to all people (Genesis 1:26, John 4:24, Matthew 28:18-20). The time is now. Let’s go.

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift–not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:8-10 (HCSB)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give Thanks To The LORD In All Seasons

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:34 (HCSB)

 

LORD AND ETERNAL KING JESUS,

You are so good (Job 34:10, Nahum 1:7).

You are so faithful (Deuteronomy 32:4).

You are righteous (Psalm 92:15).

You are timeless (Psalm 90:2, Revelation 1:8).

The things You do no one can undo (Isaiah 43:13).

Your love is everlasting (1 Chronicles 16:34).

Your faithfulness stretches to the sky (Psalm 36:5).

You see value and eternity in each heart (John 3:16, 1 John 4:9-10).

You do not slumber or miss the details of Your children’s’ lives (Psalm 121:2-3).

You are sovereign (Psalm 145:13).

You are the only uncreated One (Romans 11:36, 1 Corinthians 8:6).

You hold all things together (John 1:1-2).

You held heaven back as You died upon the brutal cross of Calvary for my shame and guilt (Isaiah 53:1-12).

You laid Your life down and You took it back up again on the third day (John 2:19, John 10:17-18, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Colossians 1:15-20).

You are the conquering King (Revelation 19:11-16).

You alone are the source of eternal life and peace (Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 1:3-9, 1 John 5:1-12).

Those whom have a broken and contrite spirit, You comfort (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 147:3).

Those who are lost, experience Your guidance as they reach out to You in earnest (Psalm 119:9-16, Jeremiah 29:12-13).

You did not need us to accomplish Your plan, but You give us the grand honor of taking part in the eternal story of Your love and faithfulness (Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Thank You for saving a wretch like me (Isaiah 6:1-8, Romans 3:19-31, Romans 10:9, 1 John 1:9).

In Jesus’ holy and victorious name I praise and pray, amen.

 

 

Rooted Above

Some pity the military lifestyle; while even fewer understands it. In the midst of yet another moving season, it is easy to feel isolated and overwhelmed with the rapid changes that seem to all hit you at once. As friends say goodbye, boxes are packed and final photos are taken, the inevitable becomes all the more real. With many proverbial plates in the air, taking on any new challenges, such as searching for a new home, church and school for your children, seem truly beyond reach. Quiet murmurs of others can become a near constant drone of worry, shock and horror. If such negativity is paid too much attention to, the military family themselves can begin to internalize these comments and actually start to pity the very place where God has called them.

 

This was the case for myself as my husband had just left for a year at another U.S. Embassy within the Middle East. I had our two young children to comfort as they cried for their daddy both day and night and begged him over video chats to come home. In the midst of this rollercoaster of emotions and desperately trying to plug into this new American community to share life with for the year, comments would be shared in passing that would take my fatigued self off guard at time.

 

As well intentioned as these comments were, the very last thing I needed to hear were further reminders that many could not relate to my current trial. “I can’t believe you have to go through this. I could never do it! I feel so sad for you. You are like a single parent!” Others would aim their comments on the fact that my husband was away and affirm their own views that men are not needed anyway. “See, we women don’t need men in our lives to take care of us! Look at you! You are doing just fine looking after the kids and your husband is on the other side of the world.” I would reject the notion that I didn’t need my husband and would take the opportunity to affirm my husband and his vital role. Yet, even still, I began to harbor resentment towards my husband for doing the job that we had both prayed about prior to him accepting the position within this specific U.S. Embassy.

 

Although we had the direction of God, there was not a let up on the daily difficulties and pressure all around us. It was truly such a needed blessing to be affirmed by both family and close friends through prayer and constant contact amidst it all. I had to continually take these daily challenges back to the Lord through prayer as days of this journey turned into weeks and then into the first two months completed. We knew that we were where we were supposed to be. I would then consequently ask the Lord why we were enduring so much difficulty along the way.

 

What continued to come back to my heart was the reality that as Christians, no matter how many or how few are standing at our sides to affirm our walk with the Lord is really irrelevant. What does in fact matter is in whom we place our trust and eternal hope. The call of every Christian, military or otherwise, is to do the will of God whether others are standing alongside us with pom-poms, billboards and broad smiles or we find ourselves standing alone before strangers as they prepare to take our very lives. As the Apostle Paul assures all followers of Jesus Christ within his letter of Romans, “if God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:31)”.

 

Ladies, the peace of God is not given strictly to those with luxurious lifestyles and personal shoppers—no, not by a long shot! The peace of God, according to the Bible, is available to all through Jesus Christ and it will blow logic clear out of the water! When the world tells you to worry, the Bible will encourage you to worship God for His goodness (1 Chronicles 16:34, 2 Chronicles 5:13, 2 Chronicles 7:3, Psalm 86:5 & Psalm 100:5). When the world tells you to feel depressed, the Bible encourages you to deepen your faith by holding fast to the promises of God (Psalm 27:13-14, Psalm 31:24, Psalm 62:5 & Isaiah 25:9). When the world tells you to give up, the Bible encourages you to give it all to Jesus in prayer (Matthew 6:19-21, Matthew 6:25, Hebrews 4:15-16 & 1 Peter 5:6-7). You see, no matter what the circumstances may be in front of you, God has encouragement for you to faithfully lead you through each step with His divine presence and supernatural peace (John 14:26-27). How do we go about acquiring such peace? We are told in Philippians 4:6-7 that we are to bring all of our concerns, issues and baggage to the Lord Jesus Christ in prayer. Jesus Christ is our direct access to God the Father; there is no other way to approach God but through the risen Messiah Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Therefore, regardless of the boxes of worry, anxiety, chaos or suffocating doubt that may be trying to envelop you at present reality; reject the stacking fears and cry out to the Lord Jesus Christ this very moment for His intervention, intercession and direction.

As a military spouse, it is a challenge to move from familiarity, uproot and embrace another set of calendar years in the next duty station; especially once we add children and a deployed spouse to the mix. But! There amidst these challenging times, there is hope from above! You see, regardless of how many times your address, phone numbers and even driving routes may change, there is One element in life that will never change; this unchanging reality is the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

“Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.”

Proverbs 30:8-9 (NASB)

 

When speaking of military families being “uprooted” by moves and new job assignments, may our hearts be reassured of biblical truths. As followers of Jesus Christ, our “roots” are not planted here within this world. Praise God for a lifestyle that teaches us to appreciate the moment, while never gripping too tightly to the things and people around us. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to “root” ourselves above…away from the dirt, depression and disease of this world. In other words, we are to “root” our hearts on the things above (Isaiah 26:9, Isaiah 33:6, Matthew 6:19-20 & Matthew 6:33-34 & John 6:26-40). May I encourage you this day to cry out to the Lord in a new way and ask for His guidance and eternal perspective for He cares for you. May we reach up our hearts and hands to the Lord and thank Him for not only hearing our cries, but for caring enough to intervene in His perfect time and sovereign way.

 

“I will rejoice and be glad in Your faithful love because You have seen my affliction. You have known the troubles of my life and have not handed me over to the enemy. You have set my feet in a spacious place.” Psalm 31:7-8 (HCSB)

Victory Over Insurmountable Odds Through the Lord Jesus Christ

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)

 

We are pack people by nature…it is easy to endure hardship in a crowd with multiple people cheering us on and running beside us. But, it is when we feel alone and grow extremely fatigued that the weight of stress and pressure begins to feel unbearable. Yet, as believers of Jesus Christ, may we recall that there is always a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on to run the race set before us to bring glory to God and honor His name to all people. In times of genuine turmoil and tunnels of chaos, may we realize that regardless of the amount of change or pain that we may endure, the Lord is faithfully with us. And if we are prayerfully approaching each new season, may we take heart in the fact that the Lord will lead us in His ways for His glory and for our ultimate good.

 

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NASB)

 

Remember, the journey of one life will never exactly mirror that of another. The Bible as well as church history is packed full of stories of great followers of God who had to endure great hardship and suffering for the furthering of the Lord’s will. Moses’ life of movement back and forth to Egypt with his family and obedience to the Lord looked very different than the life of Daniel as a prisoner of war within Babylon. Both were used mightily for the Lord, yet both stories played out very differently for a distinct purpose. The same can be said of Esther, a beautiful Jewish girl who was made queen and used by God to save the whole nation of Israel.

Thus, it is vital that we prayerfully have our noses in the Holy Bible to discern the will of God for our personal families; for if we try to create a life that mirrors that of another follower of Jesus Christ, we may be forever waiting. Why? Because the life that the Lord has called each of us to walk is absolutely unique for the plan and purpose that He has set out for each of our giftings and talents (Jeremiah 29:11-13). The Lord is faithful and has given each individual a unique set of skills to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NASB)

 

And maybe, just maybe, the reality of your present sufferings or silent questions may be used to catapult you into the path of a soul who deeply needs the encouragement that only the Lord can provide. And it would be the biggest honor given to any soul to speak of the very One who can mend any wound and heal any situation; this is the Lord Jesus Christ (Psalm 34:18). And as one who has trekked through many mountain tops and deep valleys with the Lord, may I encourage each one reading today to hold fast to the teachings of the Holy Bible–realizing that God sincerely cares for each life (John 3:16, 1 John 1:9 & 1 John 4:9-10).

Need further examples of enduring through insurmountable odds by the power of Jesus Christ? Just look at Peter on the waves (Matthew 14:29-33)! May we look up when we struggle to maintain the coarse for He is right there to grab hold of us with great strength and divine power to raise us up back atop the waves, where we have been called to walk by faith (Matthew 10:28). Take a deep breath in the reality that with the Lord Jesus Christ, there is deliverance from any heartache or difficult situation.

 

“But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob,
            And He who formed you, O Israel,
            “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
            I have called you by name; you are Mine!

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
            And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
            When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
            Nor will the flame burn you.” Isaiah 43:1-2 (NASB)

 

 

Prayer of a Soldier’s Wife:

LORD, You are good. You are trustworthy. By Your sovereign will and gracious love we will embrace another season of global separation as war wages on. Thank You for walking with my man as he is in harm’s way. Thank You that nothing passes into our lives that does not first meet approval to bring You ultimate glory. Please give me Your eyes.

 

Help me to stay focused on the promises found within Your Holy Word as I hold our children while they cry in the night from missing Daddy. Please allow my patience to be infused by Your wisdom and grace as we try to adjust to yet another new town, new church and new school. Thank You that I can look back and see the undeniable evidence of Your unabashed love for us in each move. Thank You for this lifestyle of learning to yearn for and rely upon You, rather than routine.

 

With each new move, new opportunities to see You at work in the lives of others are all around. You allow for us to both pour into the lives of others for their encouragement and Your glory as well as receiving refreshment from new friends along the way. Thank You that the truths of Your Word are indeed transcendent. There will never be a place on this big world where You will not faithfully walk with us. You will always walk beside us and lead us to the best path for our lives.

 

Thank You for the joy that You infuse the soul with—it is not based on external metrics or anything personally conjured up. No, it is more stable and concrete than that. The joy of Your giving nestles down deep into the bones, the minds and the hearts of those who call upon Your name. And in times of great longing, and genuine distress, it is that same joy from You that blossoms into peace to weather any storm or devastation that this world can bring (John 16:33).

 

The joy of the LORD is our strength! With each new challenge, with each new obstacle, may I come before You and throw all of my worries, fears and unknowns at Your feet. You have welcomed me to do this and I thank You for a lifestyle that continually provides opportunities in which to declare Your supremacy over every circumstance—and for this—claim the victory that belongs to each believer in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:37). It’s in the victorious name of my risen Savior, Jesus Christ, that I pray, amen.

 

“For the High and Exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy says this:” I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed.” Isaiah 57:15 (HCSB)

 

After reading this, now, it is your turn. Write a prayer that declares your own hope in God’s perfect timing and sovereign will over your own personal story. God is bigger than our troubles (Isaiah 55:8-9). God is faithful to walk with us each step of our journeys (Isaiah 40:28). And He can use all circumstances for our good and His glory (Romans 8:37).

 

Take a moment to declare truth both to your heart as well as declaring back to the LORD how good He is.

 

As The Wind Blows

A while back, in the midst of cleaning the house and preparing meals, our toddler son brought in a beautiful bouquet of little yellow flowers from our backyard. He proudly walked up and held them out to me with a broad smile and his chest puffed out. He had picked these just for me and he was overflowing with anticipation for me to take his gift. I had been so busy and tired that day… as had pretty much been the case for every day previous that year as my husband was traveling much for business. But, something about the way he approached me caused me to pause. I knelt down and smiled warmly as my heart was reminded of a dream the Lord had given me years prior.

 

In this dream, I saw streetlights at night along a beautiful park. These stately lights then turned into burnt matchsticks that were bent over and smoldering. And from there, I could see dandelion seeds taking flight from the smoldering matchstick as the wind blew. At the time of the dream, I was preparing for the missions field and a foreign culture. Yet all the while, I had a strong sense that this dream would apply to a later time, but had no idea what it could mean. Then, after marrying my husband and moving to the Middle East with our precious ten-month-old son and our precious toddler daughter in toe, something struck a cord within my soul.

 

I was burnt out, feeling overwhelmed and utterly out of ideas of what to do with our littles in the day. I needed a break—so I thought. I needed to just get away and recharge—so I kept telling myself. Yet, as I would meet with a wise, older Christian woman about once a month, I was blessed to glean from her insights on life. And among them, she kept pointing out how much the Lord uses us mothers to forward the kingdom of God here on earth. And it is not simply on our “refreshed days”, but often times through our heartache and times of great need for intervention of His divine nature, that we are able to see and experience His presence all the more profoundly.

 

After another wonderful time with this precious older woman of the faith while still in the Middle East, I headed back to our home to my husband and our now sleeping children. I could not shake the feeling that I was missing out on something. That somehow I was focusing on the wrong things during our time abroad. And then, the dream of the dandelion seeds in the wind came back to mind as I thought of our children.

 

Because of Your adversaries, You have established a stronghold from the mouths of children and nursing infants to silence the enemy and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2 (HCSB)

 

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was that burnt out instrument and complaining rather than seeking the Lord’s guidance and continual renewal. I was that smoldering match. But, what encouraged my heart—and what was affirmed through prayer in that moment—was the reality that raising Christ loving and Christ following children is vital in combatting the enemies of God. Stay with me here….It is in such seasons of prolonged fatigue and sleepless nights that God was able to show Himself all the more glorious in my own story. It was when I was willing to cry out with my need for Him and claim the truths of His Living Word, contained within the Holy Bible, that I would find a renewed sense of focus, meaning and willful hope. Perhaps you too can relate. It is when I have been willing to say, “this one is so far beyond me, Lord…I just cannot go another step. Please take the lead. I just want to honor You”

It is there, in that very moment that the Lord intervenes in truly miraculous ways that astound the mind and baffle the senses.

 

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” Psalm 40:2 (NLT)

 

All these memories came rushing back to me as I hugged my son and thanked him for his flowers before he ran back outside to play with our daughter who was already on the rope swing. And as I walked into my husband and I’s master bathroom to place my new bouquet next to the very same type of flower bouquet my daughter had given me just the day previous, my eyes saw something that affirmed it all. Where the delicate little flowers had rested the day previous, now white little puffballs were bloomed in their place.

 

It was such a profound and meaningful encouragement to my heart from the Lord. Although I was indeed exhausted and trying to take care of two extremely active children, the fact remained—these children are my seeds.

 

As mothers, and women in general, we have the awesome privilege to not only physically, but also spiritually invest into the lives of our children. And whether it’s a “good day” or “bad day”, they watch us to see how we choose to respond to the circumstances the Lord allows into our day.

 

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.” Psalm 18:33 (NLT)

 

Ladies, I encourage you this every moment, to ask the Lord above to breathe afresh upon you. He can take any situation and breathe life, hope and direction into it (Ezekiel 37). Acknowledge your need for His guidance, favor and continual mercy amidst the chaos (Psalm 71:20). Ask the Lord to breathe anew upon your soul to refresh you in this time of need—right where you are—so that you may glorify Him even in your fatigue and responsibility (Psalm 138:7). Ladies, please take this to heart, the care and guardianship of the next generation is of highest importance to the Lord (Genesis 1:28, Psalm 113:9, Psalm 127:3, Mark 10:14).

 

Thus, may we not only be in prayer for this next generation daily, but may we pray for the Lord to equip us to minister, mold and model lives that are sold out to the cause of Jesus Christ. May we be willing to follow the Lord in obedience and speak of His eternal glories to the little ones of this upcoming generation.

 

In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.” Psalm 18:29 (NLT)

Through the power of His holy name, we have been given not only the victory over hell, but over all forms of confusion, fatigue, inferiority, comparing and all other forms of evil that the devil would love to use to discourage us as mamas, and women in general. Take back what is yours, as a daughter of the Most High; take back the victory that was handed to you personally as Jesus Christ victoriously defeated evil and it’s many forms as He bore our sins upon the cross and gave us His healing (Isaiah 53:3).

 

“For Your faithful love is higher than the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. God, be exalted above the heavens, and let Your glory be over the whole earth.” Psalm 108:4-5 (HCSB)

 

Walk in it. Own it. Ask the Lord to blow upon the current situations in your own life and take His message of hope, restoration, peace and healing to all people groups who are in critical need of encouragement (Ezekiel 19:10).

 

May the LORD cause you to flourish, both you and your children.” Psalm 115:14 (NIV)

The Iron Shackles of Hate

“Oh no….it’s happening again! Look, look! It’s breaking news! Oh wow….oh wow…look at the front page…” Said the young twenty-two year old through wide eyes to her friend across the table of a café. She quickly covered her mouth as tears welled in her eyes. The young woman held the side of her own face as she turned her screen around to show her friend the information regarding the recent terrorist attack. Upon reading the latest news feed, the brown eyes of the girl’s friend grew large in disbelief. “Oh my gosh! Look at the streets named; we were just there a few months back during our end of year trip!” Both young women were silent for a few moments as the hot cappuccinos steamed before them. Suddenly the silence was broken in fear, “You know, they are all like this! Once a murdering people always a murdering people!” Both young adults gasped in disbelief as they continued to scroll through photos and updates before they would return to preparing for Bible study.

 

When we harbor anger, we can feel “justified” or even right with God for holding such a strong emotion due to what another has or has not done. Yet, what we are often unaware of is the fact that the iron clad shackles of hate cause our overarching joy from the Lord to slowly choke out. Rather than seeing things through the eyes of grace and the supreme reality that the Lord is indeed in control; hate begins to slowly close off exposure of our hearts to the Son of God. And the resulting darkness, can be very much at play within ourselves—even while faithfully attending church and Bible study.

 

Rather than counting one’s blessings and asking how the Lord would choose to use us to be part of the solution, as the Word of God encourages us to do (Psalm 105:1, Psalm 106:1& Isaiah 12:4), counting subsequent blunders becomes the focal point of choice. Such chains have a way of slowly distancing us from the fellowship of true believers and the needed nutrients that is absolutely essential for our souls which is found in fellowship with Jesus Christ alone.

 

Whispers of injustice, reminders of failed help and a continual song of the faults of others run through one’s mind; further justifying the stance of paranoia, mistrust and vengeance. As a result, the truths of God’s perfect and Holy Word begin to seem less applicable, less relevant and sometimes the individual even concludes that the Bible should to be “put away” while the other influences scream of hate and revenge.

 

“Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:2-5 (HCSB)

 

These swirling emotions continue amidst major blessings, but the individual cannot see them, nor stops to give thanks to the Lord for them. Rather than seeing the ever-present hand of the loving Lord at play in all seasons of life, it is as if this person has sought out each mud puddle along the beautiful path of life…and sat deep within it. Wallowing in pain, forgetting the Lord’s faithfulness and throwing mud at others because they are not wallowing in the same filth. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we have all taken turns both sitting in the mud as well as slinging some at times.

 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of may kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:2-5 (NIV)

 

Ladies, hardship and trials are real; but so is our VICTORY over them through the victorious name of the Risen King Jesus Christ (John 16:33). We may see horror unfolding in the lives of individuals where the absolute injustice of the circumstances have awaken murderous thoughts, demonic inspired words and divisive mannerisms within our own souls. Ladies, regardless of the circumstances that bring us to the mud pits and shackles of hatred and resentment, may we always check our hearts for bitterness, envy and vengeful thoughts. For if we have allowed ourselves to wear the shackles of hatred for any length of time, seeds of bitterness and its kind, will begin to show themselves in our words, thoughts and actions.

 

Why does this matter? Why not just laugh it all off in sarcasm? Because, as one who has battled through these very attempts of Satan to steal my joy (John 10:10) allow me to personally speak of the redemption that is available to YOU this very day through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It’s not enough to simply “know” what the Bible says, we must walk it out…actions speak louder than words.

14What good is it, my brothersif someone says he has faith but does not have worksCan his faith save him15If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peacekeep warmand eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needswhat good is it? 17In the same way faithif it doesn’t have worksis dead by itself18But someone will say, “You have faithand I have works.”  Show me your faith without worksand I will show you faith from my works. 19You believe that God is oneyou do wellThe demons also believe — and they shudder. James 2:14-19 (HCSB)

 

I tell you that God has better in store for you, too! Call out to the Lord for help in the midst of your suffering and feelings of injustice and repent for your feelings of hatred and bitterness. God will not only hear you, but also rescue and redeem you for His great glory and divine purpose!

 

19My dearly loved brothersunderstand this: Everyone must be quick to hearslow to speakand slow to anger20for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness21Thereforeridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted wordwhich is able to save you.

22But be doers of the word and not hearers onlydeceiving yourselves23Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doerhe is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror24For he looks at himselfgoes awayand immediately forgets what kind of man he was25But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works — this person will be blessed in what he does.

26If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself27Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is thisto look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:19-27 (HCSB)

 

Don’t sit in that pit or within those shackles any longer! You were created for greatness and divine adventure (Jeremiah 29:11-14), but it will never be recognized from the limited view of a mud hole or from the darkness of iron shackles. Call out to the Lord and allow Him to raise you up and break the shackles of hatred that have no business on a child of God. Take hold of the freedom available to you through Jesus Christ, the Risen Savior.

 

“I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.” Jonah 2:6 (NASB)

 

May we come to realize that sometimes the kindness of God is revealed in what is taken away from us. At times it is the breaking of our dreams of “perfect” or “success” that reveal our true loyalties. Are we devoted to the world and it’s ideas of power, safety and success? Or, are we devoted to the ways of the Lord and willing to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23 & Mark 8:34)—no matter what?

 

May we come to realize that God, being a perfect and sovereign father, desires what is best for each of us. And at times, that means that we will best learn and grow in our trust through tears. The Bible is filled with accounts of individuals who had to let go of their own ideas and release them fully to the Lord—knowing that He alone is fully trustworthy and good (Nahum 1:7). In the end, may we recall why we are here on this spinning rock. It is not to accumulate goods and items of status for ourselves, but for the honor—given to each heart—to worship and seek hard after the heart of God. And the only way we can please the Father God is through a right relationship through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Risen King (Romans 10:9-10). Thus, if you are reading this today—still replaying the details of something that you have recently heard or read—take it to the Lord in prayer. May we realize that sometimes the kindest thing the Lord can do for us is to break our ideals and perceptions of the world around us in order to free our hands and hearts to then pick up His ideals and world focus, which are righteous, redemptive and holy.

 

You are precious, you are priceless and you are loved by the One who created your soul. Rejoice in His ever-present love and faithful forgiveness this very day. Ask the Lord Jesus Christ how He might choose to use you and your specific talents to further the gospel of His forgiveness and reconciliation for all peoples—all across this vast globe—for HE alone is worthy (Isaiah 6:1-8)!

 

“Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:7-10 (NASB)