living braver

one faith step at a time…


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Inheritance…

easter flowers1     Just shy of 2,000 years ago a group of men, inseparable and courageous, scattered and tried to find ‘safe’ places. The man they thought would end all their despair has been killed…

Much like us, 2000 years later – we act courageous until… until we’re confronted with a trying situation, or made uncomfortable about our faith…

Jesus told His followers on several occasions that He would be killed – so many could have life forever. Many of the closest disciples said they would die with Him. But when the time came… ‘well, maybe He wasn’t who we thought He was’, ‘maybe we misunderstood what He meant’, ‘maybe we need to go off and figure this out’…

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These followers were no different than you and I. We believe (but we leave room for doubt). The good news was that within a couple of days Jesus returned from the dead, calmed their fears, promised to be with them (and us) to the very end of the age, and gave them – and all who would believe from that point on – His Spirit…

One of my favorite books in the Bible is 1Peter (highly recommended reading) especially chapter one. Peter reminds us of our “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” and of our “inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade” (1Peter 1:3-4 NIV).

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Anything we inherit here is temporary and subject to perishing, spoiling, fading, being used up, being stolen… I have a friend who, on two occasions, has not received the inheritance due her because of unscrupulous people. It has been hurtful in many ways. But my friend has an Eternal Perspective: her inheritance, the one that matters, is certain. No one can cheat her out of it and it will last forever…

Continuing in 1Peter it just gets better… vereses 6-9 are what Easter is all about as we remember the One who so willingly paid the price for our foolishness so that we could forever and ever live with Him – seeing wonders untold and without end…

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed….even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1Peter 1:6-9 NIV italics mine)

Happy, Happy Easter – He is Risen!

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Convinced…

daisies-with Bible1     If you’re like me, you want to Live Braver, you want to Live Courage, you want to Fear Less – but about the time you think you’re there, you find yourself lost in the battle all over again…

We can convince ourselves of a lot of things… lawyers are great at convincing a jury… politicians are great at convincing voters… but what about this:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)

If we would let ourselves be convinced of this wonderful, freeing truth, how would our lives look? Paul, who wrote the verse above, was thoroughly convinced – assured, persuaded, made a believer, won over. But Paul wrote those words from jail. Paul wrote those words after beatings, shipwrecks, illness, and the list goes on…

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So how can we be convinced? God gave us His Word to immerse ourselves in so that we would be so assured of His amazing grace, His free gift of salvation, His forever love that when those struggles come we would know where to go. Where to go? Straight to the only One who listens, the only One who hears, the only One that will not let anything come between us and His love.

Sure, here I will worry about my children, I will cry with those who suffer tragedy, and agonize with those who are deathly ill. I will at times walk those roads myself. But someday it will fade away. Someday I walk a new road – with no tears, no worries, no fears.

For now, His courage is my strength, His sacrifice my reward, His love my assurance…

“This his how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1John 4:9-10 NIV)

Join me in walking CONVINCED?

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Coming In Last…

race track1     I’ve never been in an actual race – I know some of you probably have: marathon, 5K, bike race, car race – my daughter swam competitively. Whether we’ve actually been in a physical contest or not, we often feel like we’re coming in last…

There was a news story recently about a young woman running a race, in fact, leading most of the way. Suddenly her body could take no more, down she went on her knees. She was so focused and the finish line so near, that wobbly as she was, she began to crawl. Giving all she had left in her, other runners passing her by, she crawled over that finish line and collapsed. The point: she didn’t give up, she finished.

Walking with God here in this life is often referred to as a race in the Bible. Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, when he was nearing the end of his life said:  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2Timothy 4:7 NIV) He knew that when he finished was not important, that he finished was the goal.

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Our lives today can seem like a chaotic race that never ends, or if it does we feel beaten up, like we came in last. But Paul went on to tell Timothy “And now the prize awaits me,” Paul knew his ‘race’ was not for human reward or to show what a great athlete for God he had been. The reward he looked forward to was eternal “the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on the day of His return.” And now for the really good news: “And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.” (2Timothy 4:8 NLT underline mine)

I cannot ignore the day to day race of life but I can choose to run in a way that testifies to the One who makes the race worth it. The writer of Hebrews gave us some great advice: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV underline mine)

Like the woman whose body just about gave out, but looked to the goal and finished, we must fix our eyes on Jesus – our goal – and with His strength, not ours, finish the race – for eternity is much longer than our brief race here on earth…

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To the Rescue…

Jesus to the rescue1     Ever notice Hollywood is all about super heroes? Movies where someone or someplace is in distress and only a hero can save the day. Superman to the rescue…

Don’t we all wish that in our moments of despair swooping down through the air would be a Captain America to make it all ok?

Like when the 85 year old grandpa finds out he has an inoperable clot in his leg and it has to be amputated. Like when the house you just put down new flooring in floods. Where is a super hero when you need one?

“The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you.” (Deuteronomy 33:27 NLT)

Our God is much more than any superhero could even imagine. Will he restore the amputee or the ruined bank account – not necessarily in this life, but in the life to come those who confess Jesus as Lord will be restored and much more…

“Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:10 NIV)

What we really need saving from is ourselves. In our selfishness we have let sin separate us from the love of God. Daunting and terrifying as the tragedies here on earth may seem, they are nothing compared to a forever without God. Our God sent His Son, swooping down from the very presence of His Father to save us – not just in one time of calamity, but for all time.

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Jesus did what no man – no matter how wealthy, strong, influential, or intelligent – could ever do. He stepped into humanity and lived a perfect life, that He could be a perfect sacrifice once for all and forever, to those who will believe…

“Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God.” (1Peter 3:18 NLT)

Jesus to the rescue, now that’s what I’m talking about… 

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If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!  Click on the Back to Paris Renae link at the top, perhaps a look a the extraordinary ordinary would lighten your day…

 


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Insignificant…

ladybug21     Do you sometimes feel that you don’t matter, not really anyways? Like if you stopped doing what you’re doing, no one would notice. Moved, no one would care. Or maybe they would notice but not for long…

Insignificant begins with the letter I and our focus when feeling in the doldrums of ‘nobody really cares’ is centered on ‘I’.

We live in a stressed out world. Life moves at lightening pace. So there are times when nobody does seem to care. Bible teacher Nancy McGuirk said “God is the only person in the world who wants to hear all your concerns.” (underline mine) So just how insignificant are we? The God of the universe wants to hear all

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1Peter 5:7 NIV) He cares for us, He doesn’t want us burdened in the gloomies of ‘no one cares’ and ‘I don’t matter’. Can we escape anxiety? Probably not, but we don’t have to carry it, He asks us to cast (to throw off) our anxiety – even if we have to do it again and again each morning or each moment.

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“Do not define yourself by your circumstances, let His love define you.” (Ann Voskamp) When we let the unpaid bills, the broken relationships, the bad childhood, the addiction, the boss’ criticism, the ‘whatever’ define us, we are forgetting WHOSE WE ARE.

The God of the universe defines us – We Are His. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12 NIV) You are chosen, you are holy not because of you but because of Christ, you are dearly loved.

There is no insignificance in a child of God. You cannot begin to know His plans for you, to use you to touch another life. Yet how does he want you to touch that other life? With compassion, with kindness, with humility, with gentleness, and with patience. The same way you want to be touched in this moment of flailing and questioning.

Remember: “It’s not about doing things for God, but about entering into what God is already doing.” (Emily Wierenga) Don’t try to ‘do’ things for God, enter into what He is doing and you will never feel insignificant again…

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