living braver

one faith step at a time…


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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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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)

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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)

running at night pixa x

 

 


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Convinced…

daisies-with Bible1     If you’re like me, you want to Live Braver, you want to Live Courage, you want to Fear Less – but about the time you think you’re there, you find yourself lost in the battle all over again…

We can convince ourselves of a lot of things… lawyers are great at convincing a jury… politicians are great at convincing voters… but what about this:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)

If we would let ourselves be convinced of this wonderful, freeing truth, how would our lives look? Paul, who wrote the verse above, was thoroughly convinced – assured, persuaded, made a believer, won over. But Paul wrote those words from jail. Paul wrote those words after beatings, shipwrecks, illness, and the list goes on…

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So how can we be convinced? God gave us His Word to immerse ourselves in so that we would be so assured of His amazing grace, His free gift of salvation, His forever love that when those struggles come we would know where to go. Where to go? Straight to the only One who listens, the only One who hears, the only One that will not let anything come between us and His love.

Sure, here I will worry about my children, I will cry with those who suffer tragedy, and agonize with those who are deathly ill. I will at times walk those roads myself. But someday it will fade away. Someday I walk a new road – with no tears, no worries, no fears.

For now, His courage is my strength, His sacrifice my reward, His love my assurance…

“This his how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1John 4:9-10 NIV)

Join me in walking CONVINCED?

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To the Rescue…

Jesus to the rescue1     Ever notice Hollywood is all about super heroes? Movies where someone or someplace is in distress and only a hero can save the day. Superman to the rescue…

Don’t we all wish that in our moments of despair swooping down through the air would be a Captain America to make it all ok?

Like when the 85 year old grandpa finds out he has an inoperable clot in his leg and it has to be amputated. Like when the house you just put down new flooring in floods. Where is a super hero when you need one?

“The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you.” (Deuteronomy 33:27 NLT)

Our God is much more than any superhero could even imagine. Will he restore the amputee or the ruined bank account – not necessarily in this life, but in the life to come those who confess Jesus as Lord will be restored and much more…

“Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:10 NIV)

What we really need saving from is ourselves. In our selfishness we have let sin separate us from the love of God. Daunting and terrifying as the tragedies here on earth may seem, they are nothing compared to a forever without God. Our God sent His Son, swooping down from the very presence of His Father to save us – not just in one time of calamity, but for all time.

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Jesus did what no man – no matter how wealthy, strong, influential, or intelligent – could ever do. He stepped into humanity and lived a perfect life, that He could be a perfect sacrifice once for all and forever, to those who will believe…

“Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God.” (1Peter 3:18 NLT)

Jesus to the rescue, now that’s what I’m talking about… 

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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, perhaps a look a the extraordinary ordinary would lighten your day…

 


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Can We Count the Ways…

letters with heart1     This week is all about love, right?

Read a mushy love letter lately? Don’t get many of those in our lives, some never get any. But wait…

There is a letter written to us, one big love letter from beginning to end… How does He love us, can we count the ways?

It starts with all creation – created with the love thought in mind of how each critter, flower, star would bring us pleasure…

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27 NIV) After He created everything, He created man and set him among all creation and blessed him. No blessing is mentioned over anything else.

This precious letter walks through all our failings and still shouts ‘you are mine, the apple of my eye’…

“Keep me as the apple of your eye” (Psalm 17:8 NIV) The apple of his eye even before we took our first breath.  “Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you” (Isaiah 43:4 NIV) Precious not because of anything we’ve done, loved just because we are His…

Then, incredibly, the ultimate sacrifice of love is made while we were still rebelling. Love ran blood red, darkness loomed, then burst forth the light eternal – and love gathered us as a lamb lost and alone, being carried back…

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“For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1Peter 2:25 NIV)

This love letter ends with the powerful, yet tender words of eternal love, of never being separated again, of joyous moments together forever, of the return of the lover our very soul…

“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 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 21:3-4 NIV)

“Count the ways He loves you, and you know Who you can count on.” Ann Voskamp The ways He loves us are too numerous to count, but we can count on Him through every fear, trial, doubt…

Happy Valentines Day…

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In the Thorns…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA      The thorns… in the Word it says the thorns are those worries, riches, pleasures that choke out the Word so our hearts don’t hear it, believe it… In that time of testing, we let the seed of His rich love and mercy lay on bare ground – the bare ground of our unbelief…

Who needs commitment, and sacrifice, and submission – make merry, live for today, drink the cup of forgetting is what the world wants us to do. It seems easier to disappear into the folds of what everyone else says is right…to be lost in the thorns…

Hide behind the smile, the make-up, the money or the poverty… Keep tight reign over emotions, longings, fears… Let the thorns have their way, it will all work out…

Notice the rose, it pushes higher above the thorns, beckoning with sweet fragrance… Notice Jesus, a crown of thorns pierced His brow, He was nailed high on a cross and beckoned with forgiveness… There is a price to escape the thorns, but it’s been paid – and we are crowned… with salvation. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has crowned us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3 WNT italics mine) Catch that?  – has crowned, not will crown – done deal for those who believe.

Listen for the Word, “If anyone has ears let him hear.” (Mark 4:23 NIV) – let it burrow deep in the fertile ground of your vulnerability, He will water and nurture and no thorns will deceive …hear the Word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” (Luke 8:15 NIV) – a crop of thankfulness leaving fear among the thorns…

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