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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Revision…

heart chain link fence pixa x     Ever felt like some chunk of your life needed a revision, a do-over? Maybe a regretted moment, an out of your control circumstance, a chapter needing to be rewritten.

It’s easy to get lost in the guilt of those moments needing revising, succumb to anger, give way to wanting to fix the past.

Maybe we aren’t supposed to linger in wanting the revision but ask our Father to change our vision, a new vision, to truly Re-Vision us. Looking beyond what we think shouldn’t have happened, what we think should happen now, or why we’re stuck because of it.

Re-Vision says I choose to see this through His eyes. Re-Vision says I trust He sees the whole picture not just this part. Re-Vision says I’m willing to let Him turn my longing for a do-over into beauty I may never see this side of eternity.

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“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (1Corinthiiians 13:12 NLT)

Instead of living the shattered dream again and again we must Re-Vision to see beyond. There are no mistakes in the lives of those God loves, no surprises that caught Him off guard. Jesus never told us that this earthly life would be carefree, worry-free, absent of pain. In fact, He told us “…In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33b NIV)

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There is a beginning part to that verse and ending that I left off. They are what gives us new vision: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.” (John 16:33a NIV) Regardless all the trouble that sin has wrought in this world, peace in our soul is possible. When the peace of Jesus reigns we can loosen our grip on our vision for how things should be or could be.

The verse ends: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33c NIV) Oh, there is my Re-Vision. I can’t see how all this mess turns out, but I can take Him at His word that He can see forever. The enemy wants my vision clouded with what seems failure. My Savior says He works all things for good for those who trust in Him – Fix Your Eyes on Me…

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Softly Still…

softx     Some things are hard – a poor bunny drowned in the pool and then the next day one was left in the street after a car hit it in front of our house. Two days of scooping up and disposing of a sweet little creation can get to you…

Reminders that someday no more of that. Someday the wolf will live with the lamb, the bunny with the fox…

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat…for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:6-9 NIV)

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In the meantime as the hard things press on we can soften them…And not just for ourselves – a kind word to another, a prayer lifted for one in need, a helping hand…

But in those moments when the hard thing is pressing us – let Him come softly into your heart…your mind…your soul. Knowing you don’t have all the answers, but He does. Knowing you can’t right all the wrongs, but He can and will, someday. Knowing you will face many hard things, but you won’t be alone – though none seem to be with you…

Ann Voskamp said “Do not pray for the hard thing to go away, pray for a bravery to come that’s bigger than the hard thing.”

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God entrusts us with hard things which helps us gain confidence to get through the next hard thing and the next – so when we come upon weary souls we can help them gain confidence and find God in their need…

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:1-2, 10 NIV)

Though you think this hard thing will never end, or you think you completely blew it this time around, or you fear any more hard things and just want to be done – He comes softly still…

Softly with love bigger than our biggest dream of love, softly with strength bigger than our biggest fear of failure, softly with redemption bigger than all our biggest regrets. Softly still He comes and we are stilled one more time…

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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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Perfect…

perfect rosex     I’m a failure… because I don’t look perfect, my house isn’t perfect, my kids aren’t perfect, my marriage isn’t perfect, my health isn’t perfect, my bank account isn’t perfect – the liar says because of these and all my other ‘imperfections’ I am a failure…

Are you perfect – what is perfect – who is perfect?

Perfect life – no worries, no fears? Perfect marriage – no doubts, no regrets? Perfect parenting – healthy children, successful in all they do? Perfect job – recognized, paid well? No?

My lack of perfection leaves me worrying what will others say, think… Ah, there it is – perfect is all about performance, impressing… It’s ‘me thinking’ but we’re called to ‘Jesus thinking’…

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV) While we were still imperfect, without us having to perform or impress, for eternity…

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Perfect is in the eye of the beholder and if you have Jesus as your Lord & Savior then God sees you through the righteousness of His Son – and he beholds you perfect

 We are blind in our looking, in our idea of perfect. Did you know that if a person loses their sight and then regains it, they have to learn to ‘see’ again? Or if a traumatic injury happens that affects the optic nerve or brain, the eyes may see just fine but the brain interprets what they observe and the brain may be unable to ‘see’.

In our flawed human view of perfection we must learn to see the perfect that God acknowledges – that of a life surrendered to Him – leave behind our misconceptions, shut out the voices telling us we are not enough, have messed up too much…

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“But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (Colossians 1:22 NIV) Wow, without blemish, free from accusation – perfect…

Watch the story of Ian & Larissa Murphy and you will think of perfect in a whole new way… They have learned a secret that we all need to know when haunted by perfect: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” ( https://youtu.be/AEBzPi2GbkI )

Let’s live in His perfection so we can extend grace-filled love to those who may just be worrying about what we’re thinking of them…

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Failure (ugh)…

thumb down1     Failure – one of the scariest words in the English language – to most…

Fear of failure begins in school – not wanting to see red marks on our papers, or raise our hands and have the wrong answer…

It continues in our ‘coming of age’ years – that fear of not being popular, of liking someone who doesn’t like us back…

As we mature failure can seem to mean not making enough to support our family, not pleasing our spouse, losing our job…

So we fear failure… Few other words put more dread in our hearts and minds…

In a broken world with imperfect people, ‘failure’ is inevitable at times – and what might appear as failure to some, may not be so to the One who is most important…

The husband may not make enough for any extras, may not make enough to pay all the bills – but the world doesn’t see his kind heart for his wife and children, and they are rich because of it.

The teen girl may not be ‘popular’ by whatever the current standards are – her volunteer work with the homeless or the elderly goes unnoticed, yet those she serves thinks she is amazing.

There is One who never fails – “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV)

In the midst of our ‘failures’  fear will lose its grip when we can remember this:

“God’s love isn’t based on me, it’s simply placed on me.” Lysa Terkeurst

Take heart and be brave – His love and His approval is not based on our past failures, nor on any future blunders. Because of His great love – that love is not bestowed based on performance, it is simply lavished on us because we are His…

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“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” So yes, in our flesh – you know, all that striving we do day in and day out… the worrying about woulda, shoulda, coulda – we will feel like failures and at times we truly may be, but take heart dear friend:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God as done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV italics/underline mine)

When failure tries to point its finger at you, remember His great love – if you are seeking first to please Him – the rest will simply fall into place…

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October 7, 2014 Practice A Braver Step

sunflower    A messenger in the kingdom was given an assignment. He was to travel far and near proclaiming the King’s words. His words would not be popular or liked by everyone. Still wherever he went he entrusted the message to someone he knew would be diligent in conveying the message to all. When possible he would send them letters of encouragement afterwards.

Sometimes we are given assignments that seem too big for us. Maybe at work we are asked to take on more than our normal workload, to fill in where we haven’t had any training. Maybe we volunteer and find ourselves put in the position of leading when all we wanted to do was help.  Often we feel like we’re the only ones who didn’t get the manual for marriage, or parenting, or financial independence. The familiar fear of failure begins to weigh down our hearts…

To fail isn’t an option because then all our ‘what ifs’ come true. With the dreaded failure comes condemnation from self and all those we have let down. Fear of failure finds us not trying…

In one province the messenger left a young man, really almost still a boy, in charge. The young man wondered why him? He was prone to stomach issues and frequent illnesses. Yet the messenger had given him the assignment: make sure everyone hears the Kings words. The letters of encouragement he received in the weeks and months following gave him the courage he needed to carry on. His latest letter had  said not to have a spirit of fear but of power, love, and sound judgment.

What was the message the King wanted all to hear? Was it condemnation for their failures and consequences they would bear?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16NIV) The eternal message that no matter how things are now, eternity holds all you long for…

The King also said: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1NIV) Failure doesn’t define us – failure in a fallen world is inevitable at times. Fear only wins when we don’t try… Practice courage today, take a braver step…