living braver

one faith step at a time…


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Trail or Trial…

trailgirl     Hiking in the eastern Tennessee mountains is full of wonder. The beauty of the terrain and the glory of the blue sky with whispers of ‘smoke’ from those Smoky Mountains are inspiring. Trails that lead away from hectic, leaving all trials behind.

Even when we can’t retreat to some perceived escape from today, there is still a choice. To choose to call the path a trail or a trial.

When we hiked in the mountains we kept our eyes alert – it wasn’t our territory. Bears, snakes, and other less threatening critters called these places home. Trail markers led us either to the intended destination or off towards another venue. And unexpected beauty could easily be missed. So always searching eyes had to take note. If we hadn’t, we could have gotten lost, injured, or missed something special.

bear trail

As we hike through trials in life we are told be alert as well. “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18 NLT)

Though the hikes in the mountains have many rewards it is hard work. A short hike requires only a bottle of water and good shoes. A longer one may require snacks, extra water, sunscreen, walking stick, and stops for rest along the way. Preparation.

trail flowerx

Often we don’t think we’re prepared for life’s many trials, but we can be. We do have a trail map, a trail guide, and a destination. Being very familiar with God’s Word is a source of great comfort in those trying times. Knowing that His indwelling Spirit is with us at all times gives us bottomless wisdom for the decisions we must make. And knowing Who waits for us at the end of the trail and what the ‘destination’ is are how we persevere.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12 NIV)

A crown of life – life in the newness of perfect creation, ours to hike through and explore the glory of forever…

fall trail

 


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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…

tshirt1

“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…

pillow1


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Safest When…

locked door1     Safe – where is ‘safe’? Safe – from ‘what’?

There is much to pray about being kept safe from isn’t there? If we were to pray for self and loved ones only about safety, I suppose we could take up most of our day. So much to be kept safe from…

Do you long for a bubble around your children, around your car speeding down the road, around your heart throughout the day…

 heart bubble1

In this world there is no bubble, bad has its way. Mommas lose daughters to terrorists, daddys lose sons to drugs, wives lose husbands to midlife crisis, friends lose kindred spirits to old age… Where is safe…

“Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge.” (Psalm 16:1 NIV) Refuge – shelter or protection from distress or danger. Here? Now? Yes and no. As we walk in obedience to God we are kept safe from many pitfalls we may never know of. But in a sin-filled world, we aren’t exempt from troubles. Kept safe from utter destruction – Absolutely, Always, Forever…

This fearful, dreadful, tearful now is temporary… Perhaps safe isn’t where, or what, or when – but Who…

“But the Lord is my refuge; my God is the rock of my protection.”  (Psalm 94:22 HCSB)

Max Lucado said When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our God… The New Testament lists some 125 Christ-issued imperatives. Of these, 21 urge us to ‘not be afraid’ or ‘not fear’ or ‘have courage’.” His second most common imperative was to love God and neighbor, and that only appeared eight times. Max went on to say “Jesus takes our fears seriously. The one statement He made more than any other was this: don’t be afraid.”

Safe when? When you are in the arms of your loving Father — and when you have Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are always and forevermore in His arms…

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!  Click on the ‘Back to Paris Renae’ link at the top, where we chat about how extraordinary ordinary is…

 

 


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October 31, 2014 Live Braver Today…

???????????????????????????????     The following is the very best I can share with you on Living Braver. These are verses I chose for myself during a time of great trial and fear and I read them everyday. Remember that praying God’s Word to Him is the very best we can offer and He will grant us peace as His word permeates our very soul. Live Braver Today and God bless you eternally…

(Remember to insert your name or me or I to personalize these verses for you – or fill in a loved one’s name as you personalize them during their time of trial…)

All verses are from the NIV transalation…

Haven’t I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2Corinthians 12:9

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26 (just cry out Father)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear, your God will come, He will come with vengeance, with divine retribution He will come to save you. Isaiah 35:4

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Psalm 118:6

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. 2Timothy 1:7

Here are some for you to look up… Isaiah 26:3, Isaiah 54:17, Psalm 27:1-2, Psalm 119:114, Exodus 14:14, Ephesians 6:10-12, Hebrews 4:16, Psalm 56:3-4

 

Finally, Happy Thanksgiving, we have much be thankful in this country – and Merry Christmas, the best gift we ever received was born in a lowly stable a little over 2000 years ago and today He is still the only gift that is truly timeless and worth more than we could ever imagine!

(If you’ve enjoyed reading this, on a much lighter note, you can visit my website Paris Renae – The Stories of Our Lives at: http://parisrenae.wordpress.com!)

 


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October 28, 2014 Open the Gate…

the gate2     I am not an artist, if I were I would paint gates – I love photographs and paintings showing a gate – they beckon us to seek what lies beyond…

Each day we are faced with decisions. It may be an ordinary day: what to have for breakfast, what gas station to fill up at, what television show to watch. It may be a fear filled day: a phone call we didn’t want, words that cut deep, saying goodbye as our heart breaks.

Some days need to be seeking days. Some days we can’t fix things, can’t come to the end of a thing, can’t find the beginning of a thing… Some days we just need to…open the gate… 

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be kept safe.” (John 10:9 NIV)

Seeking days are preparation days. In the Old Testament Daniel prayed without ceasing for three weeks, limiting what he would eat and what he would do. At the end of the three weeks he was ready for what God was about to do in his life. Without that time of seeking, what happened next would have been too overwhelming and would not have made sense to him.

Because of Jesus we can seek God at all times – whether on our knees or while buying the groceries, whether with eyes closed or driving down the road, whether in quietness or out loud. What lies beyond The Gate is love and joy, peace and patience, kindness and goodness, faithfulness and gentleness, and self-control (Galations 6:22-23 NIV) – these are ours to have and ours to give as the Holy Spirit fills us when we seek and enter through the gate that keeps us safe…

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)


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October 16, 2014 EnCourage

Courage flower1     As I studied and prayed and sought out how to speak courage, a knock came at the door, bringing one of those fear filled circumstances that happen in life. The fear is not mine directly, it is directed at one of my children. I closed the door and looked up to the sky and said “Lord, help.” I recently read that when Billy Graham was on his final crusade tour a reporter asked him to share his favorite prayer. He answered “There’s hardly a moment goes by that I don’t pray, and I say, ‘Lord, help me!’ That’s my favorite prayer.”

It is at our fearful times we need someone to enCourage us. I like dissecting words – en when put in front of a word means: to cause to be in; courage as defined by the dictionary means: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear and with bravery. So enCourage literally means: we are put in a state of mind that helps us be brave.

Throughout God’s Word we will find verses that start off saying ‘Do not be afraid…’ God knows it is in our nature to fear, so He finishes those verses with why we don’t have to be afraid – they are all summed up in acknowledging He is with us and He is our courage. As we surrender to Him and acknowledge our need for His courage, we give Him the glory and surrender our will to pretend we are in control.

EnCourage living, brave living can only come with the help of the great Encourager of our souls. “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9HCSB) Notice the verse doesn’t say He will be with you, it says He IS with you, always there…