Trouble, trouble, trouble

TroubleI knew you were trouble when you walked in. What a great line. This girl is on to something. And yes; I am going to turn a pop song into a devotional. I’m weird like that.

Take a look at John 14:26-27 where Jesus is giving instructions and encouragement to His disciples before He goes to the cross.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The disciples are naturally freaking out at what He’s telling them, but Jesus says, Let not your hearts be troubled. If you ask me, they had every reason for their hearts to be troubled. They had laid down their lives to follow Him and now He was leaving. I would have been ticked!

Why did Jesus tell them that, and what does it mean for us? Jesus knew our hearts would face trouble. He knew what was coming for Himself, for His disciples, and for all of us, both in those days as well as the future. He was preparing us for what He knew we would encounter in this life.

He’s saying, don’t let your heart be troubled, even though you’re going to want to. You’re going to feel trouble in your heart, but don’t let it camp out there. Don’t allow it to take root and fester. Don’t let fear build a home where it doesn’t belong.

The Amplified translation makes it even plainer: Peace I leave with you; My own peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled. (John 14:27 AMP)

I want you to read that last line again.

Do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.

That’s quite an admonishment.

Don’t let it happen. Don’t let fear and trouble stay and make a comfortable nest in your life. It will knock at the door, you can count on that; but send it packing. Stand up in the power of the Holy Spirit on the inside of you, rebuke fear in the name of Jesus, and move on. God’s got your back. And through Him, you can be fearless, unflinching, courageous, and immovable.

Options

Juli Mize:

A repost from a hot day… It all comes down to the choices we make.

Originally posted on Juli Mize:

OptionsIt’s so hot here today, nothing should be subjected to this heat with the exception of snakes and scorpions, and maybe tarantulas. It is violently hot. It is hellishly hot. Me no likey. I doubt the snakes even like it. Thankfully, I have an air-conditioned car to take me to my air-conditioned office and back to my air-conditioned house. I have options.

We always have options.

We get to make choices along the way that shape our lives. Whether they be good or bad, it’s the choices we make that define who we are and the kind of life we lead. I’ve made some good ones, and I’ve made some real stinkers. And I’ve been through plenty of storms that have toughened me, and proven to me over and over again God’s faithfulness.

Psalm 57:1 says, “. . . Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For…

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When it rains it pours

Juli Mize:

God’s been there the whole time.

Originally posted on Juli Mize:

You know the expression, “When it rains it pours?” Why is that? When it’s raining good things, it’s coming faster than you can receive it. When it’s raining bad things… well, Katie bar the door. It just sucks. No two ways about it.

There’s nothing I love more than a good thunderstorm; a deep, earth-drenching rain. I love the heavy, humid air that lingers behind the storm. It’s a time where you can see the tail end of the storm moving away, and the black sky being replaced with glorious light. The grass looks greener, the dirt looks blacker, and you can see for miles again.

That’s how I feel when I look back after my own storms have passed, and I see how the hand of God has been on me the whole time. That’s when I realize what could have happened, but didn’t. That’s when I exchange my…

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Happy Birthday, Daddio

Juli Mize:

A repost… I love you, Daddio!

Originally posted on Juli Mize:

DaddioIt’s my Daddy’s 65th birthday today, and I am grateful for him. I’m grateful for his love, his prayers, his believing in me, and his faith in me. I’m grateful for his love of my husband and son. I’m grateful for his words of wisdom. I’m grateful for his heart for God and people. I’m grateful for his anointing. I’m grateful for his steadfast faithfulness to his family. He has watched five little girls grow into strong women who serve God. Christi, Jordan, Olivia, and Chloe and I are blessed to call him Daddy.

Those who fear the Lord are secure; he will be a refuge for their children (Proverbs 14:26 NLT).

My Dad is a rock.

Happy Birthday, Daddio. I love you.

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Pump up the volume

listeningHearing from God is not as hard as it sounds but it’s harder than it looks.

What the?

It’s easy because He’s always speaking. It’s hard because we have to be quiet.

Why do we have such trouble with this? I mean, people have been telling us to be quiet and listen since kindergarten, right?

I believe part of our problem is that we are warring with our true selves… our earthly minds are fighting against our spirits. The mind says look it up in a book, read up on it, ask our friends. The spirit says, get quiet, look to His Word and listen to The Father.

So many times, I already know the answer in my heart, but my head gives me a hundred reasons to question it. Other times, I feel totally buried under confusion and frustration and I want to throw the whole situation away rather than trying to find out the answer.

What is the solution?

Matthew 7:7-8 says, Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Have we asked God for the answer we need? Do we try every possible route before it dawns on us to ask God? The Answer Giver is waiting for us to make our request. He is waiting on us, not the other way around.

God, help me to ask You first. I know You have the answers I need. Help me quiet down my mind and pump up the volume on Your Spirit within me. I know that’s the only way to flourish in this crazy life.

I don’t know all the answers, but I know the Answer Giver, and that’s the best place to start.

Selflessness and coffee

Coffee talkRecently, I experienced the Starbucks pay it forward phenomenon. It was cool, yes, but when you pay for the coffee of the people behind you, are you really paying anything forward? I mean, you are paying for theirs basically because someone paid for yours. There is nothing inherently selfless about that. You can get a hundred cars who will do that. The only selfless person, the only real giver in that scenario is the person who started it. They are the one who will reap the eternal reward.

You see, the Starbucks drive-thru line paying it forward phenomenon is warm and fuzzy and makes internet creepers happy, but it’s really just an example of the world’s way of giving. It is giving after receiving. It is not selfless. It is not unconditional.

Jesus went to the cross for us because of His great love for humanity, and there isn’t a one of us who is qualified to pay Him back. All that God does for us is unmerited, undeserved. All His wondrous promises are laid before sinners like a banquet for which we did not buy a ticket. That’s His very nature. He loves and He gives.

John 3:16 says, for God so loved the world that He gave.

Oh, that we would do the same.

My heart song

Unto youUnto you, oh Lord, do I bring my life. (Psalm 25:1 AMP)

I don’t even want to think of the mess I would have made of my life if not for the Lord. Can you imagine what situations He must have saved us from? The tragedies we have avoided? I have had struggles aplenty, but they have not destroyed me and my hope remains intact because I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. His mercies are new every morning. His faithfulness endures to a thousand generations.

Unto you, oh Lord, do I bring my life. (Psalm 25:1 AMP)

My future is bright because I have given it to Him. My heart is fulfilled because my future is in His hands. God is good and He’s never failed me. I’ve seen Him turn my mourning into dancing. I’ve seen Him turn my mistakes into wisdom and knowledge and understanding.

Unto you, oh Lord, do I bring my life. (Psalm 25:1 AMP)

I’ve seen Him. I’ve seen the Father. I’ve seen His awesome power. I’ve seen His tender loving kindness. All these things are there for the asking. All for the children of God. All for humanity… the heart of God. We are His beloved. You are His beloved. Your very life and future sent Jesus to the cross. Don’t let it be in vain.

Unto you, oh Lord, do I bring my life. (Psalm 25:1 AMP)

Things I learned from Pretty Woman

Slippery little suckersThe way I reference movies in this blog, you’d think I was a major movie buff like my friend Bo or my cousin Marcia. I’m really not, but I tend to think of examples from movies to make my point. Who knows why.

So, you know that scene in Pretty Woman where he tells her that she’s a very bright, very special woman, and she responds, “the bad stuff is easier to believe”?

Why is this?

This morning I read a scripture that I’ve seen a thousand times, but in a new light. (Amazing how that happens if you stick with it.) John 16:33 AMP says, I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

It’s a really good promise, right? And it’s easy for us to believe the first part of this verse, but the second part? Not so much.

I know very well that in this world I will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but am I equally confident in the promise that He has overcome the world, and deprived it of its power to harm me?

That’s harder.

Through His work on the cross, Jesus Christ overcame the world, for me. But to live my life inside the protective benefits of His accomplishment, I have to believe it and act on it, by faith… taking steps, even leaps, without seeing the floor. His Word and His promises will sit there with no power unless I believe them and act on them.

So this morning, I thanked God that through Him, I am an overcomer. I thanked God that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I reminded the devil that he is defeated through the all-powerful and all-encompassing Blood of the Lamb which covers me and my family. And I forged ahead.

And when I slip and fall, which I tend to do, God will catch me and perhaps exclaim, “Slippery little sucker.”

A year has gone by

A year has gone by in a blink, and yet much has changed. The ground around her grave marker is level and the grass has filled in. Her grandchildren are taller and more amazing, if that’s even possible.

Her laughter is softer in my mind, but the lessons I learned from her are as sharp as ever. The warmth of her hugs has faded but her legacy burns brightly.

Life has moved forward and things have changed, but our faithful Father God has not. Jackie is missed here on Earth, but she’s rejoicing in Heaven with many loved ones. And God’s loving arms have encircled those of us left behind without ceasing. He is so good.

There is joy here, there is love here. There is family here.

My heart aches and soars at the same time.

Love you, Jackie.

Love… for the win

Love for the winI love the movie Little Women. In one scene after Great Aunt March passes away, Marmee exclaims about the old, drafty house she left behind, “Her blessings became a burden because she couldn’t share them.” That may be the only thing to come out of that particular actress’s mouth that I have ever and will ever agree with.

…Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything… (From 1 Peter 4 The Message)

What do you have to offer? Offer it. What do you have to share? Share it. And love like your life depends on it. Do it so God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and He’ll get all the credit. I can’t say it any better.

Be the miracle in someone’s life. Be the conduit through which God helps someone back to their feet. That’s real love. And yes, I know it can be risky. We’ve all felt the sting of giving love that isn’t returned or is mocked. But that’s the very definition of love. We give it even when it isn’t deserved. Jesus certainly loves us whether or not we deserve it. And if you think about it, do any of us really deserve His love? I know I don’t.

So if I’m supposed to be like Him, then I have to love like Him. Love sent Him to the cross. And through His perfect love for me, I am saved.

Love won on Calvary. Love still wins today.