living braver

one faith step at a time…


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Change In The Air…

door     Living Braver has been a journey. As I recognized fear had become my default reaction to difficulties I knew there must be a better way.

Fear hadn’t always been such a close companion. Through a barrage of situations spanning just a few years, it sneakily crept in. As I set out on this journey my goal wasn’t so much to focus on fear but its opposite: bravery.

Perhaps the way to not holding my breath or getting lost in ‘what-ifs’ was to find brave steps leading to freedom.

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That’s what the past eighteen months have explored. At first these were basic baby steps. As I discovered fear and brave didn’t have as much to do with me as they did with my relationship with God, faith steps emerged.

Will there ever be a day you and I are never afraid? We all have doubts, anxieties, worries. What we’ve discovered together is that it isn’t the absence of the trials of life. It’s not a new found I can handle this. It is the ever present Holy Spirit and our totally relying on a Father who can handle it all.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1Peter 5:7 NIV)

When my focus began to be more and more about ‘this isn’t all there is’ and that no person, no difficulty, no injustice – nothing – can touch my eternity, finally a new perspective came.

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Suddenly it seemed liked clouds parted and all the wonders of God’s promises burst forth and crowded each week’s writings with hope. A hope that will never fade, spoil, or perish. A true treasure.

“An inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you.” (1Peter 1:4 NIV)

My prayer is that this journey has helped you, pointed your vision upward to where your help comes from. If I can pray for you or share with you, please email me.

You can continue to read my wanderings over at my original site: http://parisrenae.com. In the near future change will be coming to that site with a fresh new look. I would love to have you ‘follow me’ there. May the God of all grace and peace guard your hearts and your minds, Paris Renae

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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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Towards…

airplane     Sometimes we just have to move. I am finding that moving with a sore back has to be deliberate. If I find a comfortable spot, I just want to stay put. But in the end, that leads to more pain.

It is the same in our relationship with God. We must always be moving with Him: growing in our knowledge of Him, seeking His wisdom, knowing His Word and His ways better and better.

Sometimes we find a comfortable spot in our God relationship – we want to stay there. To move would not be easy. But when we don’t move beyond this comfortable spot, we stagnate and grow stiff and in the end it’s not so comfortable after all.

“For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28a NIV)

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We have a heavenly destination. In this earth suit we wear we will not reach it, but when we close our eyes to this world and open them in the next we will have arrived. There is fuel for the journey: the Bible. There is protection for the journey: the Holy Spirit. There are travelling companions for the journey: fellow Christians.

Along the way there will be potholes, wrong turns. At those times satan will try to convince us that we are stuck, that our past is all we are, ever will be.

“The next time satan reminds you of your past, remind him of your future.” Sue Edwards

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For every disappointment – be they backaches, financial downturns, loss of innocence, and so many other heartaches – there beats the heart of a loving Father who is with us. Nothing can touch us. Oh yes, here we will feel pain, but here is not our destination.

Buckle up, the journey is crazy good, crazy hard, but soon you will be home…

“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight…So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” (2Corinthians 5:6-7, 9 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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The Answer…

red rose     All of heaven must have held its breath.

The Shepherd was now the Lamb, going to be sacrificed.

I’ve learned something recently. Without even realizing it many of us find our self-worth in what we do. We spend lifetimes doing ‘things’ to earn another’s love, approval, appreciation, complements.

Then comes a time where an injury or an illness or some life event prevents us from the usual ‘doing’ – and we’re lost. We’re ashamed. We’re worried we will lose the affection of the ones we’ve always ‘done’ for, or that they will be disappointed in us, or that we are making their lives harder.

My head knows that this is not true, my heart even knows, but somewhere along the way my soul lost touch and got duped into believing the lie. The lie that if I don’t ‘do’ then I have no value.

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The deceiver, the enemy of our souls, is the master of deceit. And oh so very patient. Years of relentless messages aimed at our soul – ‘no one will care unless you do this’, ‘you’re letting everyone down when you can’t do that’, ‘even God can’t use you unless you do this better’. And so we push ourselves and we think that we are being selfless and find out that really, all along the ‘doing’ is about self.

Our souls instinctively search for the truth. Knowing that all the ‘doing’, while admirable or maybe even necessary, isn’t where our value lies. The Truth is our worth is in Christ alone. He chose to die for us, He chose to redeem us, and He chooses to spend eternity with us. And when we live our lives to please Him – all the other falls into place.

Self-worth is not in what I can do – it is in what He has done!

Jesus

Stop – do you sense it? Easter comes but once a year. The remembrance of the greatest sacrifice ever made, that ever can be made, that ever will be made. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6 NIV) Just the right time. He knew You before the creation of the world, He knew your place in time in this world, He has a grand plan to use you for good in this world – but none of it depends on you. For everything that had to be done has been done.He said, ‘It is finished!’ Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30 HCSB)

Now we get to partner with Him in bringing glory to the Father and lost souls to the Truth. The Answer to all the ‘doing’…

Happy Easter, He is Risen

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Gathering Place…

bench pillows pixa     There is a place, a gathering place, it is calm there and peace whispers your name with love.

Don’t need to travel far but you have to turn away from the day to day to find it. It’s as close as a deep exhale and as far as the heavens that stretch into eternity.

“He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11 NIV)

Close to His heart, gathered in His arms, the gathering place…

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Can’t see it, but we can feel it. Can’t be lost in it all the time, but we can never leave it. This place, the heartbeat of Jesus, is at once where our head lays and where we find brave for our next step of faith.

We’re there when all the world is shut out and we lay bare our hearts seeking His wisdom, His grace, His healing, His power, His forgiveness, giving thanks in all circumstances.

We’re there when open in our laps is the Word of life, living and active, new every morning mercies, the answers before the question forms.

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There’s a great song by Casting Crowns ‘Just Be Held’, the chorus reminds us Who gathers us close:

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

“I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4b NIV)

This, then, is how we Live Brave: in our weakness we let ourselves be gathered to the heart of our Sustainer. We surrender our effort to the timing of our Rescuer. We lift up our eyes and empty our hands of control. The Gathering Place, tell everyone about it…

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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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Soul Language…

pale rose pixa x     I think the first thing we’re going to recognize in heaven is God’s voice…

For all of us that’s how it began: in Genesis 1, eleven times it says “God said” and whenever He did, something came into being. I have to wonder, is that how you and I came into being? Did He call forth our name at the instant He began to knit us together and form us? “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow me.” (John 10:27 NIV)

Strange then that a voice that should be oh so familiar seems so illusive. Perhaps it’s our selective hearing.

sprout in dirt pixa x

Think about it, there was a time He got through and we heard – that would be the day we accepted His free gift of salvation. That’s the voice we need to continue to seek – the One who was once our sin-bearer, and is now our grace-giver.

Maybe we don’t hear Him because we fear He doesn’t hear us – we feel too unimportant, too estranged, too needy. Throughout the Psalms the writers speak of God’s very good hearing: “When I called, You answered me; You made me bold and stouthearted.” (Psalm 138:3 NIV) That’s my Living Braver desire — to be bold, stouthearted.

Hearing Him then isn’t audible words, notes of exact instruction, answers we want. It’s living a life in constant pursuit of the One who spoke us into being, hears our every sigh and cry, and answers in soul language that is only heard through trust. Loud enough for us to put one tentative step in front of another…

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His promise is so great that it leaves no reason for fear and every confidence to be bold and stouthearted… “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28 NIV) Again He emboldens us “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24 NIV)

I think I hear Him now, reminding me ‘nothing can harm you’, ‘forever is yours’, ‘trust me, seek me’…

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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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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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Hope Like That…

tulip yellow pixa x     ‘Like That’ – we use that phrase a lot… I wish I had a house like that – I wish I looked like that – I wish my children/spouse/siblings/parents/friends treated me like that – even, I wish I had the courage to be/to do/to act like that

Shush the chatter that keeps us from walking in Hope, keeps us walking in ‘I wish’. The bantering of: ‘I wish I could be successful like that‘ – ‘I wish my past wasn’t like that’

Do we forget “Man is like a breath, his days like a fleeting shadow?” (Psalm 144:4 NIV) We are a dash between two dates, no time for being lost in our idea of ‘like that’.

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Without Jesus “We were like sheep going astray (1Peter 2:25 NIV) No more…

I want to walk in freedom, abandon, total reliance on the One who sees all my tomorrows. To be satisfied, satiated  because I am so full of the truth that what I hear is His voice… “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

Today can be filled like that, overflow like that as the power of His Spirit shows us the way…

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Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as Heaven whispers, “Do you like it? I did it just for you.”Max Lucado

Everyday is a new chance to set our hope on nothing less, nothing other than a Father who calls us by name and offers grace, strength, joy abounding.

Hope is not a thing, hope is a Savior. I want a HOPE LIKE THAT…

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19 NIV) Yes, Hope like that

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