Free to love

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Your faithful love is priceless, God! Humanity finds refuge in the shadow of your wings. ~Psalms 36:7

Jesus is called Emmanuel which means “God-with-us” (Matthew 1:22-23). Jesus came into the world to be with us and to guide us with his example for living. During his time on earth, Jesus was in no way influenced by human blame or praise but was completely dependent on God’s will. Jesus was able to have deep compassion because his life was guided not by human respect but only by the love of his heavenly Father. In reading my Bible, Jesus is with me guiding me through the examples shown to me in the Bible. Allowing myself to be guided by God’s will frees me to love others.

When it is no longer about “me”, about my trying to get human respect, I am free to love. Allowing myself to be guided by God’s will frees me to love as He wants me to love. When I find my security through Jesus, the love, peace, joy and hope that He pours into me overflows to others (Romans 13:13). We are to be rooted in Jesus. With our roots firmly planted in his truth and established in faith, we won’t be enslaved by foolish deception (Colossians 2:7). Loving God with all my heart and all my strength and loving my neighbor is the most important thing that I can offer to Him (Mark 12:33).

Heavenly Father, I struggle daily with “self”. I want to love those around me with the love Christ has shown me. May I honor you this day through showing Christ’s love to others. Amen.

Free to love

Mosaic piece of work

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A joyful heart helps healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. ~Proverbs 17:22 (CEB)

I once was lost. Even though I had grown up in a Christian home, brought up in church and believed in God with my whole heart I still found myself lost one day. Life’s circumstances can do that sometimes. Whether it is bad choices or not paying attention we can find ourselves in a place we don’t want to be. After a 5 year journey, I have just begun to realize it has not been so much my obedience to do His will that God had in His plans when He came after me. He wanted to heal my broken heart along the way. Who knew?

Today I am a mosaic pieced back together by the Master Creator. So often we think when something has been shattered that there is no value left. When I allowed God to mend what I had deemed beyond repair, I found that there could still be beauty. It is a different kind of beauty. I am not what I once was, but with the Light shining through me, I am more beautiful than even before my heart was shattered. Not only am I whole again but I find that I still have value in God’s eyes.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for seeking me, for relentlessly pursuing me. I thank you for going into the depths to pull me out. You not only sought me out, You healed me. May I always remember to be thankful. Amen.

Bigger than me

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I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength. ~Philippians 3:14
Once again I find myself sitting in a “bigger than me” problem. It’s enormous. I want to say I am dealing with it beautifully. I can’t. Last night as I struggled to calm my mind down enough to sleep, I felt God’s reminder that the problem didn’t occur in one day. It would also take “time” to correct things. Somehow I managed to finally get to sleep.

Upon waking the panic crept back in. Since I obviously was not going to sleep anymore I picked up my phone to see if the blog I scheduled a few days back posted correctly today. If I had been in a laughing mood I would have laughed out loud. The post that I had written several days before was on anxiety. God’s way of preparing a message that He knew I needed to hear today. When I wrote the blog I was just reflecting. Today I needed the reminder to take each day at a time.

So today I am just practicing my breathing skills, trying to wait on God’s wisdom and I am taking to heart once again that I CAN endure all things through Christ who gives me strength. I have no great wisdom today. I am just an ordinary woman just trying to take life one day at a time. Breath by breath.

With every breath of air I take this day Lord, may I be reminded that Your Spirit lives in me. I know that You are bigger than my problems and that You in time will reveal the wisdom I need. I thank You for the strength you hide in me to endure each day. Amen.

Extending grace

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For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; ~Romans 3:23 (CEB) Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brothers or sisters eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother or sister, Let me take the splinter out of your eye, when there’s a log in your eye? You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brothers or sisters eye. ~Matthew 7:1-5 (CEB)

A church I drive by often posted on its sign for a few weeks, “Don’t judge others by how they sin differently”. This is a very thought-provoking statement. As a human, it is easy to categorize “sins” as some not so bad and others as horrible. It is human nature to say, “Well I have messed up, but at least I am not as bad as the person next to me.” Hm, makes me think of a certain Pharisee. But God’s view of things is different. In God’s eyes, a sin is a sin. My little white lie is as bad as stealing. My sin of half-truths is as bad as murder. What about sins of omission? In God’s eyes, I am not any better than anyone else who sins. This is very humbling.

So what am I to do with this knowledge? Am I to feel worse about myself? No, I think I need to take this knowledge and look at others differently. When I look at others I need to remember that we have ALL sinned. This is one of those truths from the Bible that I really struggle with. But Romans 22 tells me, “Gods righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction.” We are all on equal ground with God. I am no worse or better than anyone else. Romans 3:24 tells, “all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus.”

It is not by my own strength that I gain my righteousness. I am thankful for the grace that God gives me every day. I need to follow Jesus’ lead and extend grace to others. I don’t know what struggles each individual has gone through to put them where they are in life. Only God has this knowledge and the Bible tells me that God alone should judge.

Heavenly Father, give me Your heart as I walk this road with other people. May I extend the same grace that You have given me. Amen.

Mountaintop

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Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them to the top of a very high mountain. He was transformed in front of them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus. Peter reacted to all of this by saying to Jesus, Lord, it’s good that were here. If you want, I’ll make three shrines: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” ~Matthew 17:1-4 (CEB)

Every vacation must come to an end. Each good moment cannot last forever. Life is like that. As we say goodbye to the family we traveled so far to visit, the eleven hour drive home feels like such a letdown after all the excitement of visiting with family and daily exploration trips. Now we have the mundane time of clicking off the miles ready to be home and yet not ready to be back in our everyday lives. “Let’s just stay longer,” my son says. But the real world pulls on us and home we must go.

My son’s request reminds me of Peter, on top of that mountain with James and John when Jesus was transformed in front of them. When he shared this awesome moment with Jesus and his closest friends he didn’t want to leave either. He wanted to stay in that moment. Jesus’ silence to Peter’s request reminds us of the obvious, they couldn’t stay up there and neither can we.

There is work for me to do, responsibilities that need my attention, additional places that I must go.  No matter how much I long to stay, I must come down from this mountain. I must experience other parts of life as well. Through good times and bad, I know that Jesus is traveling with me down the mountain, through the valleys and back to the mountaintop again. The cycle of life continues on but my comfort is knowing that Jesus travels these roads with me.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for mountaintop experiences and for everyday life. Help me to enjoy all the paths of life that you have laid out for me. Amen.

Be strong! Don’t fear!

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For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline. ~2 Timothy 1:7 (NRSV)

I have never really thought before about fear being a spirit. It certainly can influence me. Fear keeps me from doing a lot of things. Fear makes me realize my limitations, my ignorance and all my shortcomings and that there are so many. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells me that these feelings are not from God. Instead, God gives me a spirit of power, a spirit of love and a spirit of discipline. From Romans 8:15 I learn that fear leads to slavery and bondage. Paul wrote, “You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as His children. With this Spirit, we cry, Abba, Father.” As a child of God my Father wants me to live in freedom knowing He has given me strength and power to overcome my fears.

“Say to those who are panicking: Be strong! Don’t fear! Here’s your God, coming with vengeance; with divine retribution God will come to save you” (Isaiah 35:4) “Don’t fear, because I am with you; don’t be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) “I am the LORD your God, who grasps your strong hand, who says to you, Don’t fear; I will help you.”(Isaiah 41:13)

So, I am empowered because “God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble. That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart, when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea, when its waters roar and rage, when the mountains shake because of its surging waves.” (Psalms 46:1-3) No matter that my life may feel at times that it is crumbling around me, God wants me to stand strong. Even though I feel that I am overwhelmed and that I am drowning, God has His hand out to grasp me and to keep me from going under. So I should not trust my “feelings”. I should not be afraid. This is a discipline that God wants me to learn. He says these words throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is a message that He has repeated over and over again. He says to all of us “Do Not Be Afraid”.

Lord, I know that the spirit of fear is not from you. Help me to use the spirits of power and discipline to stand strong in times of trial. Amen.

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