living braver

one faith step at a time…


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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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Willing…

joy pixa x     Someone recently said ‘What if we’re only as strong as we are joyful?’

The more I thought about it the more I realized that, despite whatever the circumstances, when I choose joy, I feel stronger. It is in those times I am surrendering my will knowing that God is in perfect control. I may not be happy, but happiness and joy are two different things.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to move forward with God.” Pastor Matt Price Joy strength isn’t dependent on me – no amount of ‘chin up’, ‘push through’, ‘just do it’ can make a difference. But willingness can make the difference – the difference between discouragement and direction, the difference between worry and wisdom, the difference between self and surrender.

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But moving forward is where we often get stuck. Stuck in the past or in the now – stuck in our abilities instead of relying on God’s. We go about our days drawing on our strength. Yet we’re told “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (1Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

There’s a song by Lauren Daigle, Trust In You with this chorus:

“When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!”

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So we must keep an eternal perspective, because our hope is not in this life – it is in our eternity. While today’s mountains may seem insurmountable or the agitations may cause us to stumble, they are only temporary. It is hard for us finite humans to rest in an infinite God, but to Live Brave we’re only called to take one willing step at a time and to remember: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied….But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 15:19 & 57 NIV)

Strength in joy and courage to be willing to move forward with God, hope for today and all our tomorrows…

girl in field pixa x

 

 


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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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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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Stress Less…

Stress Less2          Stress, pretty much an overused word – as if the very act of living would be anything but…

Why are we so surprised in a fallen world that we find the events happening around us, the changes occurring constantly, and our personal sagas stressful?

“Dear Friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1Peter 4:12)

Stress is part of life – yet maybe we can stress less? When the bills pile high, when the winter flu keeps you down, when you’re late for work – it is our response that will determine our stress level.

Our response… Will it be worry? Fretting? Defeat? Depression? Anxiety? A challenge for you today… Will you let it be gratefulness for the blessings all around? Will you let it be forgiveness of the trespass of another? Will you let it be a lifting of your eyes to the only true source of stressing less?

Right now whether you’re stressed or not choose a response and practice it. Then practice it again. And when, dear friend, that stress creeps up and makes your hands shake or makes your breath short, you will be ready to respond. To Stress Less requires a response uncommon in this world we live in:

“Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18 underlines mine)

Stress gives way when we choose a response that brings light to the darkness of stress – the light of joy, the light of prayer, the light of thankfulness…

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In the Thorns…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA      The thorns… in the Word it says the thorns are those worries, riches, pleasures that choke out the Word so our hearts don’t hear it, believe it… In that time of testing, we let the seed of His rich love and mercy lay on bare ground – the bare ground of our unbelief…

Who needs commitment, and sacrifice, and submission – make merry, live for today, drink the cup of forgetting is what the world wants us to do. It seems easier to disappear into the folds of what everyone else says is right…to be lost in the thorns…

Hide behind the smile, the make-up, the money or the poverty… Keep tight reign over emotions, longings, fears… Let the thorns have their way, it will all work out…

Notice the rose, it pushes higher above the thorns, beckoning with sweet fragrance… Notice Jesus, a crown of thorns pierced His brow, He was nailed high on a cross and beckoned with forgiveness… There is a price to escape the thorns, but it’s been paid – and we are crowned… with salvation. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has crowned us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3 WNT italics mine) Catch that?  – has crowned, not will crown – done deal for those who believe.

Listen for the Word, “If anyone has ears let him hear.” (Mark 4:23 NIV) – let it burrow deep in the fertile ground of your vulnerability, He will water and nurture and no thorns will deceive …hear the Word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” (Luke 8:15 NIV) – a crop of thankfulness leaving fear among the thorns…

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October 25, 2014 What are you trying to prove?

cross on rocks cropped     Day in and day out we strive to accomplish something, anything. We search for significance hoping to make our mark. We impose expectations on ourselves and feel lost when we don’t meet them. In other words, we are always trying to prove something. The root of this striving is fear – fear of being ‘less than’ someone else, fear of not being ‘enough for’ someone else – fear of being vulnerable or powerless. So we try to get the highest grades, be the best on the team, make the most money, have the best figure, be the most popular – you get the picture…

We see it everywhere – in Hollywood its who is marrying who and who got the biggest ring, who gets the big bucks for the movie roles, who has it all. In sports its who scores highest, who has more super bowl rings, who has the biggest sponsors. In politics its who stays in office longest, who wields the most power to get their special interest accomplished, who can outdo the other in debates. The fear (although they may deny that word) is they will become irrelevant if they don’t meet those expectations and the vicious cycle of striving continues…

Average ordinaries are no exception – whose kid is the smartest, who got the latest promotion, who knows everyone in the neighborhood (and the list goes on and on)…

All of us trying to prove what? To escape the fear of letting ourselves down, of not feeling ‘all that’ in an ‘all that’ world…

Secure in Christ Jesus we don’t have to strive or to prove. Sinners that we are until the day we die, when we confess Jesus as Lord & Savior our God sees us as perfect through His Son. We have been set free from the slavery of trying to prove who we are. Again, who are we? We are heirs with Christ, sons and daughters of the Most High God. Perfected by His righteousness, walking braver in His plan for our lives…