living braver

one faith step at a time…


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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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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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Restless…

suitcase in field pixa x     Restless – good or bad word? The frenzy of the world makes us want to escape – the restlessness of a world bent on seemingly destroying itself. The pace of our own lives often leaves us breathless and longing for that escape – the restlessness of trying to pay the bills, or to please everyone, or get it all done. One would think then that restless is…bad?

Yet isn’t it really our soul that is restless? Restless to have our Savior return, to right the wrongs, to make all things new. Out of the restlessness of our souls we then reach for anything, everything to satisfy – to put to rest – the longings…

Our longing is what David wrote in Psalm 63:1 NIV “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.”

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In our lostness we think the longing is for a better home, a better job, a bigger bank account, a happier marriage, power, popularity… If we would listen to our thirsty soul, we would recognize our true longing – what makes us so restless is our need for our God.

Like a planted field laying dry, thirsting for quenching rain, so our spirits when not alive with Christ lay dry, thirsting but not knowing the source of refreshment. And those of us who are alive in Christ still sometimes get caught up in the noise of the crowd and lose our way – forgetting the source of all fulfillment.

As Jesus told the Samaritan woman “But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(John 4:14 NIV)

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Restless is normal – restless to be in the presence of Jesus. Praise God, who knew our restlessness before we did. After Jesus made His sacrifice for us, He did not leave us without a Helper… The Holy Spirit indwelling us redirects our restless ways towards our Help.

Be restless to find Him each morning, to seek Him in the rush of the day, to long for Him in the night. Then we will be quenched: “But the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6b NIV)

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It’s Not Just Me…

Not the only one1     Lost in memories of the should haves, could haves…the why didn’t I, wish I would have… The voice deep within wondering would things be different if I had – or maybe if I hadn’t?

Oh, yes, it’s not just you… We all, in those moments of anxiety – in those pit in the stomach times, wonder…

That is satan’s ploy when he has nothing left or even when we’ve given him plenty to work with, it is his desire to make us look back, cast eyes inward, let fear lead…

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27 NIV)

Our Father tells us today is what matters… Will you make a difference today? With the broken life, with the child off course, with the troubled marriage, with the addiction… Today is the day for cans and wills and doing. For it is only in today that we can step into tomorrow without the wondering… “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 NIV)

Oh, Father, don’t let us add to the troubles of this day by living in yesterday… Let us lay the wondering at Your feet… “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1Peter 5:7 NIV) Did you catch that – not if you do this He will care for you, do this BECAUSE He cares for you…

To Fear…Less is freedom – the freedom found in trusting in His care…