living braver

one faith step at a time…


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Freed…

gift boxes pixa x     Sometimes we like to box things up nice and neat. Large box, bottom shelf for my worries about my children. Small box highest shelf for the grief of losing a loved one. Medium box back behind others for fears I just won’t face.

Then we go on our merry way saying how much we trust God or believe in Him or know nothing is impossible with Him.

Except maybe these few boxes that we’ve locked away in the storage shed. Those things we keep a lid on – that we don’t let go of – keep us behind bars. I see it all the time. The young woman who trusts God with her health or job – but not the relationship she’s currently in (for fear she may lose him). The man who trusts God with his wife or children – but not his money (for fear there may not be enough). And on it goes, something we just feel we need to control, or…

Does it control us?

Christmas deco pixa x

My friend Michelle expressed her freedom in Christ beautifully: Free to share my time, God created time. Free to share my money, it’s God’s anyway. Free to share my abilities, God will make the most of them. Free to attempt the next trial or test, to fail or to succeed. Free to forgive, as I am forgiven.

“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV) So what is the Truth? “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’ “ (John 14:6 NIV)

The truth, Jesus, opens our boxes – lids flung far – reaches in and says: don’t worry – I will make all things new, don’t grieve – someday no more tears, don’t be afraid – I will never leave you.

open box canva x

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” (Luke 2:9 NIV) After hearing the message, the shepherds hurried to see for themselves and fear turned to praise “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:10 NIV)

Let us be like the shepherds, let us hear the message, see for ourselves, and replace our boxes with praises. We are freed…

angel decoration pixa x

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

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Do You Stand? (& Give Away…)

cushion in field with hat pixa x     Longing for a day without…hurt, pain, grief? Longing for a family with…love, contentment, plenty? Longing for a world without…strife, war, chaos? Longing for…peace?

“The world’s idea of peace: no conflict. That doesn’t exist. Peace is the quiet calm in the conflict.” (Larry Adams pastor) Ah, that’s what we’re longing for: the quiet calm. To stand each morning, at every turn in the day, and before the starry night and know that though there be no peace now….someday…

The truth is “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11 NIV) So whose plans do we stand on? We can plan every next step, but our plans are fleeting…no matter how grand or right or seemingly worthy. The plans of the Lord, they stand firm forever. How to enter and stand there, in His plans?

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Wait – are we His children? Is Jesus our Savior? If our answer is a resounding YES, then “…I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.” (1Corinthians 15:1 NIV) The good news, the gospel, is where we take our stand and…

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” (Romans 5:1-2 NIV) We now stand in His grace? Grace – that loving kindness, forgiveness, wholeness – all ours…

“If life is going to be hard, why not live in such a way that struggles bring glory to God?” (Jay Holland, pastor) And life is going to be hard, maybe not every minute, maybe every minute. But if we can live that hard in such a way, stand in such a way that our little lives bring glory to Him?

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Take our stand on the good news, stand in His grace, and with faith did you know that all the enemy’s fiery arrows will be extinguished? When we sit at our loved one’s bedside, last breaths coming, still satan has no power. When no more money is coming, beloved possessions being taken, still satan has no power. Though none stand with us, worry our only companion, still satan has no power!

Do we stand? After everything, He is able to make us stand – on the heights, of His love – in the depths, of His mercy…an ever present help in trouble…

  DWJBdayBash x

GIVE AWAY: Dance With Jesus by Susan B. Mead addresses the grief of a mother losing her son and a God who taught her to dance through her pain. If you, or someone you love is dealing with a loss, email me at parisrenae1@gmail.com and mention today’s post. I will randomly pick two who will receive a copy of the book and a bookmark. I will be sending them out on 8/22 so be sure to include a mailing address.

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.”

stormy road poppies pixa x

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)

water pixa x

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)

running at night pixa x

 

 


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Less Travelled…

convertible canva x     Do you ever dream about travelling…in a convertible…on back roads…sun shining, light breeze – no worries behind or ahead…

That is someday…for those who believe because “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

For now, we live in a broken world. Faces needing to see in our eyes f a i t h… When the brokenness of health lost, relationship shattered, money lacking is reality, will we still lift our eyes, in faith, knowing that in this world we will have troubles?

gift hands pixa x

Faith is not something we have to muster up. Did you know that it’s a gift? Everything we need is given by the Giver of all good things, even f a i t h… “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

Is today a day where you’ve wandered…away? We will have our faithless times – our questioning thoughts, our doubting fears, our d.i.y. ways. 2Timothy 2:13 NIV tells us “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful.”

Take the road less travelled…The one that others pass by thinking it will rob them of the thrills, of the perks, of the good life. Easy to perceive the emptiness of the well travelled road… Look in the eyes of those on it – is there hope in those eyes, is there freedom in those eyes?

eyes scard pixa x

The road less travelled leads to peace in the chaos, joy in the heartbreak, calm in the storm. The world says power/money/sex/prescriptions are the answer. Do the eyes of those who have the world’s goodies shine with confidence or shadow with doubt? (look past the make-up and the photoshopping)

“Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.” Elisabeth Elliot  Got questions? He has answers when we walk hand in hand with Him. He is the One who will be with us til the very end of the ages – and the One who will welcome us into eternity…where all will indeed be well…

dirt road pixa x

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


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Crazy Generous…

hands11     Nine days until Thanksgiving… Are you feeling generous? If we are giving thanks, then someone was generous with us – someone who wants us to have every good thing

“…but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:10 NIV italics mine)

Do you ever have a hard time being generous? The kind of generous beyond what you ‘have to do or give’, the generous beyond ‘out of my extras’. I know I do. Why are we so afraid of being generous?

Generous doesn’t just mean money – how about a listening ear, a shared meal, a ride for someone who has to walk, a kind word, a complement?

Fear says what if? What if I give the homeless guy a twenty and I don’t have enough next week or next year? What if I stop to listen and they take too long and I’m late? What if I say something kind and they think I am weird?

What if all that does happen? Is God not big enough to take care of the what ifs?

God is crazy generous with us… Eyes to see beauty, smell to breathe in the rose, touch to stroke the kitten, taste to savor the sweet, ears to listen to raindrops, symphonies, voices of praise… Crazy generous… a mind to dream to imagine to wish, a heart to love to have compassion to give mercy. Crazy generous… lips to feel a kiss, toes to put in sand or puddles, hands to hold a babe or brush away a tear…

“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (Philemon 1:6 NIV italics mine)

Give thanks, be full of thanks, let’s be crazy generous with someone this week –  we have every good thing in Him…

 

 

 


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Rest…

rest1     So what is it about the holidays? In July the thought of twinkling lights and hot cocoa sounds so… special. Then November 1st hits and the thought of pleasing e v e r y o n e makes twinkling lights irritating and hot cocoa nauseous. There’s the money aspect, the who is going to whose house this year thing, the expectations (food, gifts, decorations, and on and on)…

Soon Thanksgiving becomes get the tree up becomes programs and parties becomes last minute wrapping becomes ‘ what another year has gone by?? ‘

Whoa, put on the brakes… “Come to me,” Listen, He’s calling to you“all you who are weary and burdened,”isn’t that what we are, yes that is it, weary “and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV) Rest in the midst of how much money we can spend or not spend, rest in the disappointment of the family member not present at the Thanksgiving table, rest in the housecleaning/baking/decorating whirlwind…

Take My yoke upon you”not the holiday season yoke – “and learn from Me” – not from the sales papers – “for I am gentle and humble in heart” – not expecting any more than the acceptance of His invitation – “and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29 NIV)   If our soul is at rest, fears become manageable, anxiety becomes tamable, holidays become…

T H A N K S …G I V I N G

J O Y…F U L L

HEART…FELT

A celebration of all our blessings and our trials…

A recognition of Who controls the universe and our next breath…

Jesus becomes the reason: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (John 1:14 NIV)

Rest, if only for a moment, He will be all you need for that moment and the next and the next….


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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…