living braver

one faith step at a time…


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Yearning…

tea candles     Sometimes there’s just a deep longing.

At times it feels like wanting to spread wings and fly off free of all that holds us back. Other times it feels like a hole deep inside not yet filled. Mostly it’s a stirring just below the surface, a wondering.

It comes from not knowing the answer to the question: Who are you?

Not Melissa, or Amanda, or Sara. Not mom, or wife, or boss, or employee. Not rich or poor, college grad or school of hard knocks grad. Who are you?

A new creation. Created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Apple of His eye. Holy and dearly loved.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

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Seated in the heavenly realms. Blessed. A royal priesthood. Christ’s ambassador. Righteousness of God.

“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2Corinthians 5:21 NIV)

Filled with the Holy Spirit. Child of the Father. The body of Christ. Fearfully and wonderfully made.

“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16 NIV)

Heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ. Loved. Forgiven. Saved. God’s possession. Chosen.

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:17 NIV)

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Words of affirmation, affirmed over and over again to thirsty souls with deep longing. Choose no longer to listen to worldly definitions and mind chatter. No past, no present, no tomorrow – no what if, no failure – defines who you are.

Here’s the most important question ever asked: “But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29 NIV) If a resounding ‘You are Messiah, the Savior of my soul’ rings from your lips, then the answer to ‘Who are you?’ is settled.

You are daughter/son of the God of all creation, the Father of forever. Yearning finally filled in the rest that comes from knowing who you are…

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If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

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Desire…

floewrheartx     God’s heart words to our souls speak of desire. So many references but we get wrapped up in the immediate. The urgent earthly love and pursuits.

But He beckons “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 NIV)

All our pursuits of pleasing family, making a living, volunteering, vacationing – all fall short and still we desire more. Unsatisfied we try harder, we analyze, we fill up on what leaves us empty.

“O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1 NIV)

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While raising children, succeeding in the workplace, and helping those in need are planted in us by Him they only truly satisfy when first we are seeking Him. Satisfying the yearning with His word. Finding our meaning by recognizing we are chosen by Him. Our parched soul thirsts and when we seek out the source of unending Living Springs we then overflow to this dry and weary world.

“You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16 NIV) When we are filled up with Him, He can use us to show the way to others. The Bible tells us we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Not works we think up, not works to check off a list, not works to gain brownie points. The works we’re created to do overflow from a heart bent on doing His will.

“I desire to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within in my heart.” (Psalm 40:8 NIV)

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Self gives birth to desires that never seem to be fulfilled. Constantly wandering after more and more. The world today can’t get enough to the point what is good becomes dark and causes pain. Seeking God gives birth to a desire that can be satisfied. The soul knowledge that we rest in the loving arms of the King of forever, and someday we shall see Him face to face.

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.” (Psalm 73:25 NIV) Will this characterize me every moment? Oh I wish. I will be selfish, I will want what me wants and not seek Him first. But I can silence the whispers of  ‘failure’  by being drenched in the promise that I am a work in progress. He has begun a good work and someday it will be complete.

Until then I can cling to and look forward to precious words of life as I “Praise the Lord, O my soul… [He} satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1, 5 NIV)

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Because of…

hearts pixa     Can’t earn it…Don’t deserve it…Can’t lose it.

To Live Braver is not a task, a to-do, a mountain to climb, or fear to conquer.

Yet life here is based on performance. As children – behave correctly, to be praised. As students – score a high grade, to get ahead. As a woman – look a certain way, to be noticed. As a man – make a living, to have worth.

As a child of God there is no performance required on our part. Christ has done it all. For all the times I have caused a frown here on earth, He has atoned. For all the times I have been selfish, He has been generous. For all the times I have ignored, He has noticed. He has overcome all our shortcomings – past, present, to come.

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But  b e c a u s e  o f   His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy… (Ephesians 2:4 NIV)

That great love isn’t earned, deserved or ever lost — it can be shared, can be the source of comfort, can be our Brave.

And oh yes, Mercy – He is so rich in it. A storehouse full that never empties out. Mercy poured over us, drenching us. In such mercy we are standing in His presence. Shining in the Light of Christ, His righteousness lighting up our very countenance. The Holy Spirit in us now – that we reflect the Light for all.

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How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1John 3:1 NIV)

His little ones, beloved ones, those who walk all eternity with Him. Lavish = generous, extravagant quantity. With so much, will we share? With each sharing we are courageous. There is no fear in love, love drives out fear and “We love because He first loved us.” (1John 4:19 NIV)

What freedom – live in Him, trust in Him. Freed to not perform, freed to show what He has done. We can love, BECAUSE OF… Jesus!

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If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!


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In Spite Of…

cherry blossom pixa     Making decisions is a daily task, so many things tug us different directions. The toughest decision can be in those moments of frustration, fatigue, or fear – the decision to love in spite of…

Jesus made that decision 24/7. When a hurting soul approached with nothing to offer but himself, only his hope in this Messiah, Jesus chose love. Even when a follower and friend said ‘I don’t know Him’, Jesus chose love. Jesus always chooses love.

Our human love can be so fickle. In our marriage love is easy when we’re on the same page, but what about the times when we strongly disagree about finances, children, jobs, relatives, etc. Loving our children is easy when they’re moving through life seemingly doing their best, but what about the times when they rebel or make foolish mistakes stemming from immaturity. Loving our friends is easy when we laugh and cry together, but what about when we feel neglected or wronged, betrayed.

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“When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36 NIV)

We don’t see the crowds that way. We are ever on the defensive. Seeing the crowds as obstacles, as something to be feared, as unimportant. So we look with eyes that see statistics or nameless faces. Thank goodness Jesus sees us individually. We are never just part of the crowd. He knows our name, he knows our heart, he even knows the number of hairs on our head. (Luke 12:7)

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When it comes to those in our circle – spouse, child, friend, relative – we will choose love, mostly. But I think we’re asked to see individual faces in the crowds, to pray in our heart when prompted for the stranger, to help the elderly woman with the door, to speak a kind word to a frightened child, to trust Him just enough that today’s decisions aren’t just about self.

Sometimes Living Braver means touching a life. The book of Hebrews ends with this: “Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1-2 NIV)

Each day is a decision: to love only the lovely and lovable or to show love, compassion to the overlooked, the bitter, the forgotten. One soul at a time…

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Lifted…

dock canva x     Recently I saw a video depicting the weight we so often carry around with us. A little girl appears on the scene and scoops up a big rock, lifts it over her head and let’s it fall into her backpack. She is happy, she does this a couple of more times still smiling.

In the distance young children are jumping into a lake, laughing, carefree…

As time goes on she is no longer happy about adding rocks – big or small – to her backpack. She hears the laughter out by the lake.

Others come along contributing their bricks and stones to her backpack. Barely able to walk she makes her way to the dock watching the other children. A little girl motions her to join them. She shrugs her shoulders asking how? Her new friend helps her take her backpack off dropping it behind her, they run to the dock’s edge…

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The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. (Psalm 145:14 NIV)

Do you have a backpack full? I did and I didn’t even know it. After all these years I finally realized that is my way, I pick up everybody’s brokenness because I want to make it better.

But we can’t carry our own broken pieces let alone other’s. So I took a day, I gathered rocks and markers. I thought through what felt heavy and wrote on rock after rock. Then I set out to water’s edge to where I first felt cool water and sand slipping out from underneath.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10 NIV)

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I pulled out a rock lifted it to Jesus and said ‘You are stronger, more capable, and are healer’ and hurled it as far as I could. ‘You are forgiver, more understanding, and accepting’ and away went another. Giving each to Him who carried all our burdens to the cross so that we would never have to be weighed down again.

Oh, if we could grasp our freedom in Him. In our backpack He only puts what He made us for: smiles to lighten another’s load, kind words to touch a hurting heart, joy in spite of circumstances, love big enough to shine His light, peace that only finds its way to us through Him, gentleness when the world is harsh, His Holy Spirit filling us up and lifting us far above all we perceive to be ours to solve…

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (Proverbs 12:25 NIV)

Gulf 1-16 Me x

 


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Open Arms…

angel pixa x     Ten days and counting…celebration or chaos?

Is it possible to have both but still have peace, still have courage, still have Him…

I watched a children’s Christmas production recently. The youngest came up at the beginning and sang their song, so sweet – one little guy was so proud of himself at the end of the song, he folded his arms across his chest and beamed the biggest smile. As they headed down the aisle to exit one looked a little nervous, about that time his daddy appeared with arms open wide. He flew into those arms, relief flooding his face.

That’s me and you, you know. I make lists for gifts, I spend money as wisely as possible, have hopeful expectations that the gifts will please. But what if they don’t?

I make cookies or send cards, trying to express love, but is it enough?

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That’s when I realize my focus is on the trimmings, not on the reason. Jesus came in the midst of chaos, most too busy to notice. An angel chorus announced the Good News to those who were quiet, not to the boisterous crowds. In the quiet, we can hear “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10 NIV) All the people may not listen, the quiet may only hear, but still the news is for all…

So when I’m unsure, when my heart is apprehensive, there is a way. A way made to open arms that will calm my doubts, soothe my feelings of not enough. Do you know those arms?

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Those are the same arms that not so many years later were stretched out on a cross. Arms open wide Good News laid down His life, taking on all the sins ever committed, all sins yet to be committed. Once again good news was proclaimed, through ragged breaths “…Jesus said ‘It is finished.’ With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30 NIV)

Finished – do you believe? Will you accept? It is finished, sin no longer has to chain us. It is finished, fear no longer has to be our master. It is finished, joy ours in the midst of any pain. It is finished, assurance of forever life after our last breath here. Just wait til you fall into those arms. Can you see Him standing there, arms open wide? Can you feel them envelope you? If you can, you have Christmas every day…

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Do You Stand? (& Give Away…)

cushion in field with hat pixa x     Longing for a day without…hurt, pain, grief? Longing for a family with…love, contentment, plenty? Longing for a world without…strife, war, chaos? Longing for…peace?

“The world’s idea of peace: no conflict. That doesn’t exist. Peace is the quiet calm in the conflict.” (Larry Adams pastor) Ah, that’s what we’re longing for: the quiet calm. To stand each morning, at every turn in the day, and before the starry night and know that though there be no peace now….someday…

The truth is “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11 NIV) So whose plans do we stand on? We can plan every next step, but our plans are fleeting…no matter how grand or right or seemingly worthy. The plans of the Lord, they stand firm forever. How to enter and stand there, in His plans?

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Wait – are we His children? Is Jesus our Savior? If our answer is a resounding YES, then “…I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.” (1Corinthians 15:1 NIV) The good news, the gospel, is where we take our stand and…

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” (Romans 5:1-2 NIV) We now stand in His grace? Grace – that loving kindness, forgiveness, wholeness – all ours…

“If life is going to be hard, why not live in such a way that struggles bring glory to God?” (Jay Holland, pastor) And life is going to be hard, maybe not every minute, maybe every minute. But if we can live that hard in such a way, stand in such a way that our little lives bring glory to Him?

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Take our stand on the good news, stand in His grace, and with faith did you know that all the enemy’s fiery arrows will be extinguished? When we sit at our loved one’s bedside, last breaths coming, still satan has no power. When no more money is coming, beloved possessions being taken, still satan has no power. Though none stand with us, worry our only companion, still satan has no power!

Do we stand? After everything, He is able to make us stand – on the heights, of His love – in the depths, of His mercy…an ever present help in trouble…

  DWJBdayBash x

GIVE AWAY: Dance With Jesus by Susan B. Mead addresses the grief of a mother losing her son and a God who taught her to dance through her pain. If you, or someone you love is dealing with a loss, email me at parisrenae1@gmail.com and mention today’s post. I will randomly pick two who will receive a copy of the book and a bookmark. I will be sending them out on 8/22 so be sure to include a mailing address.

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!​​