Life Preserver

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A sweet friend of mine invited me to go kayaking; I’ve never been, so I excitedly accepted! It wasn’t until a bit later that I realized what a kayak actually looks like and how short the sides are that might keep you safely inside!! But then I thought to myself, “Don’t worry, remember that one time back about 9 decades ago, at girl scout camp, where they taught you how to survive in the unfortunate event of a capsized canoe?! See God has been preparing you for this moment! You’ll be fine!” This reminds me of something Scriptural of course…

Isaiah 7 finds a king freaking out down by the water where clothes were washed. I don’t know, maybe doing laundry was a stress reliever for him (I wonder if my friend would mind if I brought some laundry along to do lakeside while she preps the kayaks)?! Anyway, God meets him where he’s at and I love that Jesus never comes to us with, “What’s your problem?!” but rather with “I know that struggle. (Hebrews 14:5)” 

In Isaiah 7:9 there seems to be a Hebrew play on words: If you do not have faith (ta’aminu) you will not stand firm (te’amenu). By verse 14 God gives this king a sign to reassure him and yet the word used for “you” is actually plural!! Which means the sign of reassurance given in verse 14 was also for us!!! …Look the virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). 

Now, what should we always have with us near water? A life preserver!! However life preservers can be hot, itchy and uncomfortable on a sunny lake, but knowing the benefit of them and what it is potentially saving me from, I will most certainly choose to endure a bit of discomfort in lue of survival! 

The Good News of Jesus can be like offering someone a life preserver (John 3:16). However if we don’t tell them the whole story, that Jesus isn’t just an option but THE ONLY option for survival (John 14:6) then why would they endure a life with a preserver when at times it might seem much more comfortable to go without?! 

Without firm faith in Jesus, your “ship” goes down in flames. This life is the only time we get to make our choice as to who will pay the penalty for our own sin; either we will or we can take Jesus as our Savior, allowing His sacrificial blood to cover us. God honors our choice.

For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the days of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2 

Come Get Salty

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Wonders of real discovery are always found in the WORD (get it… W.onders O.f R.eal D.iscovery = The W.O.R.D., God’s Word, the Bible – good thing I can keep myself amused easily)! Anyways… take simple table salt for example…

Table salt is actually made up of two volatile chemical compounds. The first is a silvery white metal called sodium, also known as natrium or “Na” on the periodic table. Sodium alone is so unstable that it bursts into flame when it comes in contact with water! Kinda a problem with a mouth full of saliva wouldn’t you say?!!

Salt’s second component is chlorine, or “Cl.” When you add chlorine to water, this poisonous gas turns into a dangerous acid! Also posing a slight problem to life in general if ingested!

BUT… (Here is the wondrous part!!) when you combine chlorine with sodium, you get NaCl or sodium chloride – a stable, edible compound that we know as humble table salt.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6 (NIV) “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 (NIV) 

Matthew 5:13 (NIV) states, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Even science tells me that if my life is to be flavorful, good for anything, I must be connected to Jesus!! 

Join me this fall through my newest Bible study series, T.R.U.S.T. (T.otal R.eliance U.pon S.ustained T.ruth) and we will grow in God together! The goal is to know the Father, love the Son and hear from the Holy Spirit. No experience needed, all welcome, come as you are; and with technology these days you can come from anywhere! I’ll begin teaching through the Old and New Testaments in a chronological order, and by His amazing grace may we encourage one another to see Jesus, our Living Hope, working in every page of our lives, as we find Him on every page of Scripture! 

God bless you muchly~

Email with interest: redeeminggrace991@gmail.com

You won’t want to miss T.R.U.S.T. – T.otally R.elying U.pon S.ustained T.ruth (God’s Word) to lead us into His L.I.G.H.T. because only L.ife I.n G.od H.olds T.ruth! For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Psalm 36:9 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalm 119:18

“Should we pull the weeds?!”

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“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn. Matthew 13:27-30 (NLT) 

Tis the season for weeding! We cast our seed in late spring and eagerly await our first signs of hope filled sprouts of green. It isn’t until much later in the season that we begin to differentiate between the greenery of fresh blooms and that of pesky weeds. This reminds me of Matthew 13 and the parable on gardening… yes, there is wise advice even applicable to gardening in the Bible! (It really is the only Book anyone ever needs to own!)

Matthew 13:28 reveals over eager farm hands. “Should we pull out the weeds?” For all the “doer’s” out there this seems like a logical step for when we see weeds in our garden! However the Sower of the “seed” has much more wisdom in discerning weeds from the wheat. 

You see, when wheat first begins to sprout, it appears green just like the weeds. Wheat does not take on the golden appearance until it has time to mature. An inexperienced, yet well meaning farm hand could accidentally pull up good wheat along with the weeds! 

As the parable is explained the “wheat” represents those who have received Jesus as their Savior and the “weeds” are those that have rejected Him. Only God sees a heart and understands one’s motives in entirety (Hebrews 4:13). Only God sees one’s full potential and understands their growth cycle and timing for full maturity (Philippians 1:6); He alone understands everything beginning to end (Revelation 22:13). God alone can make a stony heart beat with Truth (Ezekiel 36:26).

God has wisely said, weed pulling is not our job. Rest assured there will be a harvest, but that is a job we need not concern ourselves with. We are to lovingly tend His “garden”, caring for His people sown in His image (Genesis 1:27). 

Who knows…

with just enough Living Water lovingly applied…

where once wound only weeds…

one day may wield wheat to our surprise! 

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV)

Land Sakes!

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My great grandmother used to use the exclamation, “land sakes!” Which in a roundabout way got me thinking about who or what do I allow to stake ground, or land, in my mind? What I allow to stake ground in my mind will govern who’s sake I’ll live for. Oh for Pete’s sake, let’s dive into the Word shall we!?!! 

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed. “But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9 (NIV) 

Circle back around to the phrase in the above verse, “But I prayed… and hold that thought in your heart’s pocket a bit.

The land in our mind is prime real estate and multiple forces will do battle to stake ground there. Recalling Moses’ mindset of himself in Exodus 3:10 (NIV), Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”  Hmmm… compare Moses’ mindset to that of God’s perspective of Moses in Acts 7:22 (NIV), Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action. WOW! There is just no comparison is there!? 

Land sakes, dear one! I do believe Jesus’ death on the cross in our place and His resurrection from the grave has overqualified Him to stake ground as CEO in our minds! Only the Creator of our minds can bring proper perspective within it.

Considering the apostle Paul’s self evaluation in 2 Corinthians 11:6 (NIV), I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. Paul was not hiding behind his weakness but rather allowing his mind to stake confidence in his God’s ability to overcome within them! Paul is also found having stated, …I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9) At the end of my life, I wonder, if rather than accomplishments done in my strengths, I’ll be more grateful for the times I stepped out in my weaknesses; by faith allowing God to take me on an adventure WAY beyond myself?!! 

Other than being our own worst enemy in the land of our mind we will inevitably find ourselves up against many other people, things and spiritual forces ready and willing to take any ground we are willing to forfeit! So back to the thought we tucked into our heart’s pocket earlier from Nehemiah 6:9. Up against the enemy of our minds we have the powerful and effective weapon of prayer.

Prayer to fix my mind on the Truth of His Victory over every part of my life! Prayer to intentionally start every day, every moment, every situation, every thought with God first. In the beginning God… reframe everything you come up against rooting your hope in the sovereign rule and reign of God. Prayer to rest secure in God’s precious promises and His unconditional love for you, and prayer to choose to trust and obey with the gift of the present moment.

Land sakes dear one! Can you imagine If we would worship God with all the “land” in our mind for His worthy sake?! It would be a game changer. Today, change the game on the battlefield of your mind with, “But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”

Choose to Sing

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I was stopped in my tracks mid morning run, and not because of the biting air or cold sleeting snow rain or even my sloshy soggy tennis shoes, but because of a breathtaking symphony of birds!! I couldn’t see even one of them, as they were all well tucked away from the elements within the long sheltering swamp grass. However from within their refuge their song rose above and lifted my heart to sing alongside their song of joy! 

It’s easy to become the brute beast Psalm 73 speaks of when your “run” is brutal and the forecast is more “winter storms”. But when you are running with God He makes available to each of us a new song of His joy every morning; we just must choose to sing it. 

I’m reminded that no beasty heart is beyond our Lord’s taming! In Genesis 2:19 God was able to round up all the wild animals for Adam to name. In Genesis 7:8-9 God again was able to corral all the animals needed for the Ark! 

Psalm 73:21-26 (NIV) When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven by you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 

The song of the birds this morning as I ran by lifted my spirits. When we choose to sing the song of joy God gives our hearts, others around us may just be lifted up on those symphonic notes as well! Psalm 40:3 (NIV) He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

Dear one, today I pray you receive His song of joy that rises above the “rain” and then choose to sing it because nothing shakes His reign over it all! 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Psalm 150:6 (NIV) 

Your Life’s Author

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I’m pretty sure the English translation of “May” is chaos! With all the end of the year events, good golly it’s a good thing we all have necks to keep track of our heads!! And yet this brings to mind something Scriptural of course…

In the book of Matthew we see bookend verses that practically mirror each other on the Hope filled Kingdom of God! (See Matt. 4:23&9:35) Within that we see the Kingdom way set up in chapters 5-7 and then exemplified in chapters 8-9. What is astoundingly cool is that within chapters 8 and 9 we see three sets of tirade examples! Each set separated by the call of discipleship! The Bible is written in such a fitting and orderly way, it all computes and is the very best commentary on itself!! This reflects the character of the Author!!

This Author is the same Author of your life dear one, so in all that feels like chaos, remember feelings are not facts – so don’t lean on them (Prov. 3:5-6, Matt. 4:4). Don’t allow the “feels” to steal the joy of your reality in Jesus. He is always working; and for our good (John 5:17, Romans 8:28)! Keep handing Him the pages of your life (no matter how chaotic they may seem) for His pen is always peace and His endings are always in victory!

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8

MORE POWER!

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Hello my dear friend. I’m glad you are here. Even if I cannot physically see you I’m grateful for the blessing of your presumed presence on the same page as I. Speaking of physical sight, mine falls far short of 20/20. Recently I went for a routine eye exam and like always they show me the big giant ‘E’ first (I appreciate their hopefulness). However without any eyewear this giant “E” only looks like a grayish cloud. The doctor then proceeds to flip down lens after lens asking if power 1 or 2 is better, 3 or power 4… I find myself inside my head screaming, “MORE POWER, JUST GIVE ME MORE POWER!!” Everything is just out of focus otherwise! This led to a bit of a chuckle.. the kind that just sort of embarrassingly escapes, produced from a random funny thought inside your own head. Leaving everyone around to look at you like your bird has flown the coo-coo’s nest for sure (maybe people just look at me like that). Anyway… My experience in the eye doctors office made me think of how often in life we too want to scream, “MORE POWER!”, when really in Christ we already have all the power we need we just fail to access it. It’s like me failing to put on my glasses in the morning. I have what I need but if I fail to take it up I’m left to feel powerless. 

Today dear one, I pray that you and I pay attention to the places in God’s Word that He gives us control. Like… John 14:27 (NIV) Peace I leave with you; my peace I gave you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. “Do not let…” He has given us the peace we need to keep calm. We can now choose to exercise the power He has given us to take up that peace and tame the trouble that would threaten our heart. Now get a load of this! In nearly the same address, Matthew 14:27 (we just looked at JOHN 14:27) (Gotta love when God makes it easy to commit His Word to memory!) (NIV) But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” See that part where God gave us control? TAKE courage! He has made courage available just as He has His peace, but we must exercise the control He has given us and take up the power He has made available to us. Praise Him for never leaving us stranded, more power is always available to us in Him dear one. 

When You Can’t Fix It

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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 (NIV) 

We tend to “santa-cize” the Christmas story, when it was, in reality, saturated with fear, doubt, dashed dreams, slander, hurt and devastation. We can realize this just reading the first 8 verses of the onset of Jesus’ life story in Matthew 1:18-25! 

  • Talk about experiencing every level of conceivable anxiety and stress when you need to have a conversation telling your betrothed that you are pregnant by the Holy Spirit!
  • Can you imagine the stares, the looks, the whispers around every corner of your community because you stay with a girl “pregnant by the Holy Spirit”?! Especially when you tell people you made your decision to stay in such a relationship based on a dream with an angel!?
  • Can you imagine every hope you had for your future, every romantic dream dashed in a moment as you choose to submit to a plan that isn’t your own; a plan that seems broken at best or at least it feels like it’s breaking you?! A plan you can’t “fix” and would have done anything to have prevented.

Maybe you can relate on some level to either Joseph or Mary. If so I pray you can take hold of the hopeful Word that was given to them in Matthew 1:23 (NIV). Our God’s name doesn’t mean “prevention” but rather the promise of His faithful presence. …Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

We live in a broken world and tragedy and trials will befall us all (John 16:33) but our God sent His Son into this broken world so that ultimately we don’t have to end in it and we can overcome by the power of His Spirit. The Christmas story brought the gift of sure and Living Hope to us all but certainly didn’t come in a perfectly shaped box easy to wrap (just ask Jesus’ parents)! 

When trials and tragedies go un-prevented we can lean into His faithful presence to find sufficient strength and grace to keep on, to look up, to finish this race strong for His glory; the glory of the One who won! And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:15 (NIV) *Remember Jesus submitted to a plan He wished would have been different in order to save our souls. He understands the strength needed to remain faithful in the pain and pressure of our trials and tragedies. (See Luke 22:339-46, Hebrews 4:15-16)

Proverbs 3:25-26 (NIV) tells us, Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared. The promise is not for the prevention of sudden disaster in this world but that by the power of His presence we will not be overtaken, we don’t have to be ruined by it! 

Daniel 3 is a thrilling read and perfect illustration of the un-prevention of a fiery trial! Yet if you read carefully you will notice between verses 21-23 and 25 the only thing burnt up were the chains that bound; and why?!… because …no other god can save in this way.” Daniel 3:29 (NIV)  Only Immanuel, our God with us, can use our worst trials and tragedies to bring about something good; to free us in ways we could not even imagine; freeing our hearts to receive and experience more of His presence and unfailing love. 

Dear one, I pray that today if you find yourself in the middle of something you did not choose, something you can not fix, that you would be given the grace to rest in experiencing the peace of His overcoming presence; that, …the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 (NIV) The good news of the Christmas story is that God has a purposeful plan that includes your life and it is good even when we can’t see it, or understand it and He will never leave us alone within it. 

The LORD is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. Psalm 145:17 (NIV)

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:9-11 (NIV) 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3 (NIV) 

‘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.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:4-5 (NIV)

…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 (NIV) 

God bless you muchly~

Holding And Yet Held Firm

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… you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Genesis 32:28 (NIV) 

Ever since Genesis 3 in history when imperfection entered the world via imperfect human choices, perfect storms have been a guarantee for us all. In the guarantee of “life storms”, which by definition is anything that stresses us out, we also have the guaranteed choice to ride peacefully through if we want. So why are we so often found floundering in a flooded mess of fear, anxiety and yes, stress in our storms?! 

It’s simple… we let go of our Anchor (Hebrews 6:19). 

We let go of our Anchor then we lose our fixed focus (Hebrews 12:1-3) and we find we are fighting the wind and the waves to the point of exhaustion. We will struggle in life, the storms can hurt and wound and devastate but they do not have to take us down. Jacob was a man who struggled in life but in all the storms he did not let go of God, actually Genesis 32 records him actually in a wrestling match with God! God is not afraid to be wrestled with; He can handle your questions, stress, hurt, doubt, fear and anger – the God who created emotion can handle yours dear one. In all you can’t handle, hold on to the One who can handle you (even if it is to wrestle it out). 

When the storm seems to have drained you of strength to hold on, you will find yourself held in the Hand of peace Himself (Ephesians 2:14). The God who is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9) and good and forever loving (Psalm 136:1), will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Our God chose to enter our storm and take on the greatest storm of all time. A storm that cost the Father His Son (John 3:16). A storm that would spill Jesus blood and break His body. Jesus held firm so that we could hold firm and yet, praise Him, it doesn’t depend on our strength. He understands and He is enough to anchor you through in peace. You are held, let Him hold you dear one.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)  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 (NIV)

Winning

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In Jesus, you are always winning more than you are losing; in spite of how you feel or how things may appear. 

When Moses was struggling with God’s commission for him (Exodus 3, 4), God didn’t build up his self esteem saying, but Moses you have been to the palace, you even know how to speak Egyptian… No! God, instead tells Moses, I chose you, I made you, I will be with you. … Because when our confidence is in Him, and our trust is in His Word, we become more than conquerors! 

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

Deuteronomy 20:4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” 

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.