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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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?

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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.

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“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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Hearing is…

pitcher of flowers pixa x     The old saying ‘seeing is believing’ is no longer true in our day – with computer generated everything, models transformed from their already lovely selves into unreal works someone believes beauty to be, and with deceit the ‘go to’ marketing ploy – seeing is not believing.

But hearing is blessing “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3 NIV)

In our noisy world we hear a lot these days. So many voices convincing us that we ‘deserve’ this, or that tolerance of evil is compassion, or that outright lies are truth. It’s like the wizard in Oz: ‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain’ – pay no attention to truth that sets you free.

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Only in hearing Him can we find what we need. We think we have many needs, but we have only One – His blessing. With that, whether good things happen or grief things happen, we can be sure He holds us through it all. He tells us He blesses us: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3 NIV)

Catch that? Not that He will bless us, that He has and does. I can Live Brave if I can grasp: day in and day out my Father withholds no good thing from me – because someday, forever will be where I am and eternity has no bad things. This is a truth I need to hear and I need to share.

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“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11 NIV) I’m not blameless, I blow it everyday, but when my Father sees me, He sees the blameless One who shed His blood for me so that my walk can be blameless…

Without His blessing we have nothing but what the world has to offer, what we can grab. Looking around I don’t think that’s working out too well. Hearing is blessing, take it to heart…

orange tulips in vase pixa x

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

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Hope Like That…

tulip yellow pixa x     ‘Like That’ – we use that phrase a lot… I wish I had a house like that – I wish I looked like that – I wish my children/spouse/siblings/parents/friends treated me like that – even, I wish I had the courage to be/to do/to act like that

Shush the chatter that keeps us from walking in Hope, keeps us walking in ‘I wish’. The bantering of: ‘I wish I could be successful like that‘ – ‘I wish my past wasn’t like that’

Do we forget “Man is like a breath, his days like a fleeting shadow?” (Psalm 144:4 NIV) We are a dash between two dates, no time for being lost in our idea of ‘like that’.

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Without Jesus “We were like sheep going astray (1Peter 2:25 NIV) No more…

I want to walk in freedom, abandon, total reliance on the One who sees all my tomorrows. To be satisfied, satiated  because I am so full of the truth that what I hear is His voice… “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

Today can be filled like that, overflow like that as the power of His Spirit shows us the way…

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Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as Heaven whispers, “Do you like it? I did it just for you.”Max Lucado

Everyday is a new chance to set our hope on nothing less, nothing other than a Father who calls us by name and offers grace, strength, joy abounding.

Hope is not a thing, hope is a Savior. I want a HOPE LIKE THAT…

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19 NIV) Yes, Hope like that

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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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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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Release Me…

 flower orange pixa x     Sometimes we have to be set free, to become…a servant. The cares of our lives and worries of the world have a tight grip. The not yet happened curls its tendrils around our thoughts. Attention and effort lost in the sea of the past and stranded on the shores of tomorrow. But what happened to today?

“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare.” (Psalm 25:15 NIV) Whether a snare of our own making or another’s…

Oh how I wish we – you and me – could live today – and not yesterday and tomorrow. So much lovely puffy cloud time, dew drops of early morning, and buzzing dragonfly wings of dusk are missed in our regrets and what ifs…

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“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27 NIV) But we can take a single hour or sacred minute and make it meaningful to life. To breathe in all the glory of these moments fleeting…

What is remembered most is not the mistakes but the ‘on purposes’. Purposefully speaking life to another’s soul, purposefully lightening the burden, purposefully overlooking the imperfection…

On purpose I want to tell, no show, no show and tell someone how much they matter, how much I forgive them, how much God loves – loves them, knows them, has planned for them…

Living Braver I want to be on purpose – today. Not worrying that I let yesterday get away from me, not fretting that I may not be prepared for tomorrow, and, oh Father, not hanging on to what made a mess of things or forgetting what made a glory of things…

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This is courage and this is fear…less — to be on purpose as I look out the window, pick up the phone, fold the laundry, stand in line, read the Word — the Word, that is His ‘on purpose’ to me… From creating all this marvel of a world, to dwelling among us and stretching wide His arms on a cross, to the written Word to impart life and truth and peace…

Release us Lord to Your purpose… “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2Corinthians 5:5 NIV italics mine)

orange daily lilly 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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Stepping Stones…

stepping stones pixa x     Sometimes we all need…a path….. to find our way…

Stepping stones don’t have to be crossed all at once. Sometimes we step, breathe deep, and do what needs to be done in this day, on this stone…

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. (1Peter 2:21 NIV)

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Last week I stepped onto an unknown stone – as the blossoming young woman, with hurt her past, and a future unsure, poured out her heart to me. Mesmerized I listened as she non-stop told me everything she had held so tightly, now overflowing like a dam broken.

On this stone I did not have to have all the answers. I did not have to fix anything. I just had to…listen, squeeze her hand, blink back tears with her, and…assure her of the One who loves her more than anyone on earth can even fathom. The love of a Savior who sees her heart.

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He knows your heart too, He knows your hurts, He knows your faltering step looking for the next stone in the path…assuring you that –

“When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” (Proverbs 4:12 NIV)

For what can man do to us? This earth suit may be damaged, feelings hurt, dreams dashed – but you who profess Jesus as your Lord, Christ as your Savior – the you that is eternal cannot be touched.

Because Christ died for us our Father sees His Son’s righteousness in us – and tells us this great truth for our path:

“The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter til the full light of day.” (Proverbs 4:18 NIV)

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And now it comes to us to say to fear ‘you are not my master’. As this sweet young woman finished her story we held hands and stepped together to the next stone in our path looking forward with eternal eyes to the promise…

“You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11 NIV)

Step brave with us today into the everlasting arms – breaking the chains holding us captive to the world and its burdens and stepping free into the Light on our path…

 

 

 

 

 


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You liar…

stormx     Going about my days lately I thought I had this new sense of courage and contentment, maybe I was finally getting it… then something happened that made me plant my feet and shout ‘no’, ‘I won’t do that’, ‘I can’t’, ‘it’s not safe’, ‘what if it doesn’t work out’?

And there I was, all the stuff I thought I had shed was bubbling out, demanding an answer. The question: ‘Do you trust Me?’ – ‘Yes, You, I trust Lord – I just don’t trust the person asking me to go along with the scary thing’ – and I tried to pretend that if I protested enough, I could get my way, I could stay in the safe zone, and I could go back to my few minutes ago courage…

pierx

Doubts crept in, my head was saying ‘you know this could work out really bad’, ‘put your foot down, don’t do it’ – I so badly wanted to pay attention. Then my heart said pick up your Bible and the defenses I was trying my best to erect began to look like unbelief. The deceiver wanted me to handle things the way I’ve always done it – my way. My Father didn’t want me to handle it at all, but put it in His hands…

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him…” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

I had to say to the tempter, the one who holds out the tantalizing lie of ‘you don’t need God for this, handle it on your own’ – ‘You liar!’ Listening to the lie would have rewarded me with worry, lost sleep, conflict. Listening to the lover of my soul rewarded me with confidence that I wasn’t in control, but He was and I needed to trust… “…so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

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When what we have, or the fear of losing it, becomes our god, we lose sight of what we truly have – assurance that no matter what happens in this world, whether in our control or not, this is temporary – eternity is forever and that can never be taken from us.

Things may work out the dreaded way we fear they will, but we don’t have to lose our peace and joy when we cling to our hope – the unfailing love of God and the knowledge that “in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28 NIV caps mine)

 daisyx

 


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Getting Lost, Finding…

sign directionxx     Lost? Ever right where you’re supposed be but can’t find your way?

Strangers on this earth, it’s easy to wake each day, do all the things we’re supposed to and suddenly look around and question – why?

Is there purpose in all this daily doing?

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When Paul was on a ship adrift, lost, and bound for wreckage, all the men on the ship were despairing, but he calmly said to them: “But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.” (Acts 27:22 NIV) Paul was not lost, wherever he was, he knew his way Home…

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In the wreckage of our days: suicides, terrorism, financial ruin, tornadoes, famine – maybe not so daunting but still our stuff – wayward children, lost job, car accident – maybe even just the frustrating – lost keys, late to work, broken window… we can feel abandoned, adrift, lost…

Remember  “the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10 NIV)

So today in the midst of the delay in your expectations, the disappointment of hopes not fulfilled, the deceit of worldly pleasures you can still find the Way for He has told you how to get Home… Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV italics/underline mine)

In the lostness rest in this “Like the wind, grace finds us wherever we are and won’t leave us however we were found.” (Ann Voskamp underline mine) When you find yourself in Him you can be sure who you were will be radically made new with each step you take towards Home…

Join me in the journey leading straight to where we want to be?

country roadx

 


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The Truth Is…

lie truthx     Often the barrier to Living Braver is not knowing the truth…

When I am struck with fear about what will happen or is happening, its because I’ve forgotten the truth…

“I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6 NIV)

Throughout the course of a life many fearful things will happen, that’s just the way it is, for now. When I get in a car accident, or go to court to face a judge, or go to the doctor for not so good test results, or watch a loved one die, or make mistakes that hurt me and many others, or _____ _____ _____ (you fill in the blank) – I often react in fear…

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Fear of the unknown – what will happen now, how will I move beyond this, how can I ever make amends, will I survive this, what if… These feelings, these thoughts, that swirl and close in make me captive, a slave, imprisoned to the lie…

But Jesus told those who believe in Him “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV underline mine)

In our hand wringing moments when we may want to turn to what the world says will help (drugs/alcohol/self-indulgence/etc.) – it is in those moments we need to turn away from the world, those answers are bondage.

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Psalm 86:11 NIV asks of God “Teach me your ways, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth.”

The truth is Jesus, the truth is God’s Word. The truth is you and I have already won because Jesus has secured our forever. Whoever would try to defeat us, whatever is haunting us, whenever we are facing the giants, wherever we are now – all our who’s, what’s, when’s, and where’s are “light and momentary troubles…achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2Corinthians 4:17 NIV)

Lord help us to put aside the world, and to put inside the Word…

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

 life isx