living braver

one faith step at a time…


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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)

bottleheart

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)

woodheart

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)

boats

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)

girl in field

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


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Open Arms…

angel pixa x     Ten days and counting…celebration or chaos?

Is it possible to have both but still have peace, still have courage, still have Him…

I watched a children’s Christmas production recently. The youngest came up at the beginning and sang their song, so sweet – one little guy was so proud of himself at the end of the song, he folded his arms across his chest and beamed the biggest smile. As they headed down the aisle to exit one looked a little nervous, about that time his daddy appeared with arms open wide. He flew into those arms, relief flooding his face.

That’s me and you, you know. I make lists for gifts, I spend money as wisely as possible, have hopeful expectations that the gifts will please. But what if they don’t?

I make cookies or send cards, trying to express love, but is it enough?

stars tree pixa x

That’s when I realize my focus is on the trimmings, not on the reason. Jesus came in the midst of chaos, most too busy to notice. An angel chorus announced the Good News to those who were quiet, not to the boisterous crowds. In the quiet, we can hear “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10 NIV) All the people may not listen, the quiet may only hear, but still the news is for all…

So when I’m unsure, when my heart is apprehensive, there is a way. A way made to open arms that will calm my doubts, soothe my feelings of not enough. Do you know those arms?

cross pixa x

Those are the same arms that not so many years later were stretched out on a cross. Arms open wide Good News laid down His life, taking on all the sins ever committed, all sins yet to be committed. Once again good news was proclaimed, through ragged breaths “…Jesus said ‘It is finished.’ With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30 NIV)

Finished – do you believe? Will you accept? It is finished, sin no longer has to chain us. It is finished, fear no longer has to be our master. It is finished, joy ours in the midst of any pain. It is finished, assurance of forever life after our last breath here. Just wait til you fall into those arms. Can you see Him standing there, arms open wide? Can you feel them envelope you? If you can, you have Christmas every day…

tree ornament heart pixa x


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Wrestling…

autumn leaves pixa x     There are times in this life where the best description of what we are going through is called: wrestling.

That place where you’ve had the air sucked out of you…

That place where you walk slower and find yourself staring a lot…

Much as I don’t like this place, experience has taught me that growth comes during these times.

Experience has also taught me that the growth comes only if I rely on the Father to see me through to the other side, not when I take control and try to fix all the mess. This is hard for me, I’m a fixer. So this time, I’m hoping I can let Him fix, in His time, in His perfect way.

fall trail x

I think I will try this advice: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2Corinthians 4:18 NIV) Help me, Father, to remember that all this mess of stuff is temporary, fix my eyes on You and the hope of eternity.

We are also reminded that “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.(Hebrews 12:4 NIV) Whether it is our own sin or that of others – but Jesus shed His blood for all man’s sins. So no matter the pain of our own foolishness or the fall-out of other’s selfishness, we do have eternity awaiting us — a no more tears, no more sorrow – no more wrestling eternity.

fall x

For today, and tomorrow, and however long it takes I will wrestle through this uncertainty — wrestle in prayer, wrestle in His Word, wrestle to try and keep my thoughts on those things I’m called to fix my mind on. All that’s evil wants me to dwell on the pain and drown in the fear, but I need to remember ‘whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy’ (from Philippians 4:8).

I am reminded where our strength for the battle comes from – “Finally be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” (Ephesians 6:10 NIV)

sunflower field at sunset pixa x


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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?

basket of flowers pixa x

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?

lavender bag heart pixa x

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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I In the Middle…

heart cementx     Ever feel stuck – in the middle. Between scary and bold, between fear and brave, between self and God?

Reminds me of something the author Max Lucado once pointed out: sIn. In the middle of the tiny, big word is I.

Such a small word, big enough to destroy an Eden man and woman. ‘I’ always makes a mess of perfection…

Between scary and bold is I saying: I can’t, I won’t. Between fear and brave is I saying: I’m not good enough, I don’t trust enough. Between self and God is I saying: I know best, I’ve got this.

sidewalk weedx

Stuck in the middle – the middle of the pain, the fear, the doubt. Sometimes in the middle of the good, the plenty, the blessing. I demands it’s way in the bad and the good because, as always, I looms large when it’s on it’s own…

sIn is always self and self feeds on our weakness. We need HIM. The I in the middle of HIM is the great I AM. With HIM the difference between scary, fear, self – and bold, brave, God – is the I AM…

This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:17-18 NIV)

Mmmm, peace like a river – abounding, running on and on, not ending. As Alicia Bruxvoort said in a post I once read: “Even if you know the ending, the middle can still hurt.” But remember, nothing is waste with God. The messy middle is for us to use for Him.

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This side of eternity our sinful self will never be completely gone. But maybe crossing from the middle to Him will be quicker, less stressful, more comforting when we remember we are no longer slaves to sIn – we have been set free…

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father”. (Romans 8:15 NIV)

Father, we want Your peace like a river…

peaceful riverx

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

 


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Messenger Tears…

broken heart1     I’ve always had this battle with tears… as in I hate crying (it wreaks havoc with mascara, I look ugly when crying, and it gives me a headache) – but also the battle of tears being weakness…

Perhaps tears are messengers…

Out of what breaks our hearts – come tears to remind us… Remind us how brief life is, how fragile. Remind us how relentless time is, how incalculable.

Life can make us callous – especially when we hold back the tears. Tears break us down, loosen us up. They cause us to stop – it’s hard to keep reading the emails, driving the car, making the bed, whatever – when shoulders heave and all is a blur…

Somewhere I read this question: ‘What breaks God’s heart that no longer breaks mine?’

In this world of instant news, this so called global life we live, callousness develops. We hear of the nine year old boy shot in a driveby, the widow robbed of her wedding ring, the bombing leveling a neighborhood – and we don’t shed tears… But they still break God’s heart.

To Live Braver, to conquer Fear doesn’t mean to become numb… “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35 NIV) The shortest verse in the Bible – two words… Jesus, who knew His dear friend Lazarus who lay dead in the tomb would someday live forever, that this wasn’t the end – this Jesus saw the heart of his friend’s sisters and their grief and it broke His heart. So instead of someday, in that moment, He did the miraculous and called forth life…

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” (Luke 6:21 NIV) Have you ever laughed so much tears come down your cheeks? Tears, messengers… Not just messengers of all that is bad or sad, but all that is good and right, for in the pain of tears or the joy of them, we realize not one rolls down our cheeks that He doesn’t take notice of…

Do not forget this my friends: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 NIV) Some day, not so distant, and the hope we cling to… Someday those messenger tears will not be needed, someday the things that break God’s heart, and should break ours, will be done with…

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