living braver

one faith step at a time…


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In the Cave…

flower yellow black bkgrnd pixa x     The Lost Sea Adventure is in southeast Tennessee. To tour it you descend several hundred feet on slippery paths. Part way the guide stops and says “At this point we are going to turn off all lighting, you’ll understand what complete darkness is. Hope they come back on.” (Not funny.)

You stand there waiting for your eyes to adjust so you can see the outline of the person standing next to you. But you never do, because in complete darkness you can hold your hand right up in front of your face and never be able to see it.

That’s a lot like us without Jesus. We can commit terrible acts, knowing exactly what we’re doing. But never see it for the evil it is.

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It reminds me of the recent tragedy in Charleston where the barely adult young man sat through a Bible study with a group of people and in the end, opened fire killing nine.

So lost, so needful of something to make sense, so deluded into thinking his actions would make his world right in some way…

Like marriages that abuse verbally or physically – hoping it changes something. Like drugs or alcohol – hoping for a release from the reality of what isn’t wanted. Like any crime – hoping to fix a perceived problem but creating a worse outcome.

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Pastor Larry Adams recently said “That young man may have to pay for his crimes, but he doesn’t have to die for them.” Meaning someone already did – Jesus has paid the price in full for whatever the sin. A lie about something as silly as where we were to one as devastating as killing innocent people. The point is, we will likely face earthly consequences for our sins, but those who put their faith in Jesus don’t face an eternal consequence.

The Lost Sea is at the end of the tour deep into the cave. A very large lake discovered in 1905. But God knew it was there all along.

He knows all about us too, when we’re lost… When we finally ‘discover’ Him, we can see our actions for what they are. In Him we find our way to wholeness. Then no matter the troubles we face in this world, we know He will see us through, right there with us. Someday we will see Him face to face. In the light of His glory that shines on our forever, free from anymore bondage to sin… With Him the light is always on.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2Corinthians 4:6 NIV)

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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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Resting…

stones autumn leaves pixa x     Turning from wrestling to resting started off with struggle but is now resulting in assurance…

Conflict is not something many of us enjoy – and though we may not seek it out, it is brought to us just the same. The enemy of our souls is at war and he knows his time is short. He delights in robbing us of all that is good – peace, joy, contentment. We have been told “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)

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Finding myself in that wrestling place, believing the condemning self-thoughts, bogged down with worry, and wondering how I could fix something, anything – I lost sight of who the enemy is and who my Defender is. You and I cannot fight alone against this dark world, but praise be to God we are never alone and “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2Corinthians 10:4 NIV)

Divine power? The Spirit of Jesus living in us. The Word of God teaching, correcting, and encouraging us. The Father who makes all things work for the good of those who love Him. These are our weapons.

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The enemy absolutely delights in us losing sight of the One who never leaves our side. Even in the agony of what seems the worst possible outcome, the hurt burning so deep we feel we may melt away, the fear causing us to tremble – never lose sight, He is there. Yes, this world is full of the result of sin, but this is not all there is…

This temporary earth suit we’re in, this temporary loss of all that seems right – it’s part of the battle. There is great news indeed! At just the right time Jesus will return, we will be with Him, all that refuse Him will be no more, and all our stuff that bogs us down daily won’t even be a memory. This then is resting – in the everlasting arms that carry me now and someday will welcome me to eternity. He has promised, read it over and over again in His Word “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” (1Thessalonians 5:24 NIV)

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Hearing is…

pitcher of flowers pixa x     The old saying ‘seeing is believing’ is no longer true in our day – with computer generated everything, models transformed from their already lovely selves into unreal works someone believes beauty to be, and with deceit the ‘go to’ marketing ploy – seeing is not believing.

But hearing is blessing “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3 NIV)

In our noisy world we hear a lot these days. So many voices convincing us that we ‘deserve’ this, or that tolerance of evil is compassion, or that outright lies are truth. It’s like the wizard in Oz: ‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain’ – pay no attention to truth that sets you free.

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Only in hearing Him can we find what we need. We think we have many needs, but we have only One – His blessing. With that, whether good things happen or grief things happen, we can be sure He holds us through it all. He tells us He blesses us: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3 NIV)

Catch that? Not that He will bless us, that He has and does. I can Live Brave if I can grasp: day in and day out my Father withholds no good thing from me – because someday, forever will be where I am and eternity has no bad things. This is a truth I need to hear and I need to share.

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“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11 NIV) I’m not blameless, I blow it everyday, but when my Father sees me, He sees the blameless One who shed His blood for me so that my walk can be blameless…

Without His blessing we have nothing but what the world has to offer, what we can grab. Looking around I don’t think that’s working out too well. Hearing is blessing, take it to heart…

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

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One More Time…

childx    Ever seen a child thrilled with something simple like being swung around in a circle, or tossed up in the air, or awed by a ‘magic’ trick. The response is always ‘Do it again, do it again, one more time’…

There is hope for all our frailties – those times when we fall back into the old habits, know we shouldn’t but still do, thought we had moved on… f o r g i v e n e s s

There is hope for all the hurts others impose – those times when words cut deep, actions longed for don’t materialize, the judgment is crushing… f o r g i v e n e s s

Self or others – can we do it? Probably not…

Self: “As far as the east is from the west,” (that’s forever far from) “so far has He removed our transgressions” (the failures, the lapses, the self-condemnation) “from us.” (Psalm 102:12 NIV)

We, like children – Do it again, one more time, Oh how we need His f o r g i v e n e s s one more time…

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Others: Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,” (instead of angry, instead of vengeful, instead of defeated) “just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NLT)

Do it again, one more time, Oh how we need the grace to f o r g i v e one more time…

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Elisabeth Elliot, if you don’t know her story, you really should look it up – by His grace Mrs. Elliot turned evil to good by the simple, oh so complex word …f o r g i v e n e s s. Her secret: “Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you.”

Oh yes, we have forgotten one more time, that He who created our very breath, yes the One who took all unjustness for us, that His final request was F O R G I V E…

It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’

 It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

(lyrics from Matthew West Song: Forgiveness, link to listen:

https://youtu.be/h1Lu5udXEZI )

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

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Twas 2 Nights Before

???????????????????????????????     “In a Book of old pages, so Living and True, you can hear Jesus whisper, I’m coming for You. Through every story, the King fiercely came, and He beckons you, woos you, and calls you by name!” (Ann Voskamp The Night Before Advent)

The word Advent means… He is COMING. He came a little over 2,000 years ago to do what no one else could – impart His perfect righteousness that those who will trust Him as Lord and Savior can live forever…

Someday, not so distant now, He is COMING again, this time to take us to be with Him and live with fear banished forever…

As we slow down for a day to remember that God would lay aside His splendor to be lowly born like you and like me, that He would look evil in the face and declare “It is Finished”, and spread His arms wide for you and for me – let’s with grateful lips declare ‘Til You come to take me from here, I will seek You moment by moment to conquer my fear. Be they my own demons or foes all around – in You only can Living Braver be found.’

I pray you and those you love have a most holy and blessed day remembering the greatest gift ever given –

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11NIV underline/italics mine) You can read the whole Christmas story in Luke 2:1-20.

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October 15, 2014 Still Waters…

Still Water1     All God’s critters are quite fascinating. I once read a great deal about sheep from a shepherd’s perspective. He used Psalm 23 to illustrate his points and to teach about the flock he tended. Sheep need still water free of debris and disturbances or they won’t bother to drink – no matter how thirsty. So timid is a sheep  that they can be contentedly grazing and if a rabbit bounds across the grass the whole flock will bolt at once. Often a sheep who is in the grip of fear will run til it drops dead. Yet when the shepherd is near, the sheep listens for his voice and turns towards him. Thus the need for shepherds…

God had David write the 23rd Psalm for us, His flock. Phillip Keller wrote “We live a most uncertain life. Any hour can bring disaster, danger, and distress from unknown quarters….We live either in a sense of anxiety, fear, and foreboding, or in a sense of quiet rest. Which is it?” The Psalm  not only says He leads us beside still waters but it goes on to say “He restores my soul…I will fear no evil for You are with me.” (Psalm 23:3&4 NIV)

With Ebola news and school shootings, with terrorists and gang bangers abounding it is easy for us to want to bolt. To run til we no longer see danger. Through His Word God assures us that in the midst of dangers “…goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6a NIV)   How? Because no matter what befalls us in the end “…I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23;6b NIV)

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28 NIV)  Thus our need for a Shepherd…know His voice…

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