Living Free to Pursue God’s Will

“Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and
more, learn to think like Him.  Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way.  Then you’ll be able to
live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by
what you want”  (The Message). 1 Peter 4:1-3

Living Free

I want to live free! I want to conquer my sinful habits of selfishness and pride.  I want to put aside foolish, childish thinking and develop mature, steadfast faith that can never be shaken.  How about you?  Freedom sounds pretty amazing, right?

It’s available, it’s right there, almost in grasp.  How do we get it?

We can wish for it…

“I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight…” Do you remember this children’s rhyme? As kids, we would gaze up at the darkening sky, waiting for a glimpse of the first twinkling star.  As soon as it appeared, we would say this rhyme, make a wish, and then wait.  We never waited long though because even in our youth, we knew the star couldn’t give us what we asked.  We were wishing, hoping, waiting for something that we had no real hope of ever attaining–so we laughed and resumed chasing lightning bugs until we had to go inside.

OR…

We can pray for it!

Wishing is NOT the same as praying. Seeking God’s wisdom and guidance, asking Him for help…He already knows what we want and He knows what we need. He wants us to realize our dependence on Him and ask.

God does not want us tyrannized, especially by our own thoughts and selfish desires.

Imagine the biggest, shiniest, most perfect “thing” you’ve ever wanted. For each person the “thing” will be different, but the desire, the longing for it is the same. We want…clothes, shoes, jewelry, happiness, comfort…the list is endless.

But, God knows what we need.

And He knows the best way to give it to us.

Some things are a free gift–mercy, grace, salvation, peace!

Some things we must earn. Earning anything of value requires determination, diligence, a willingness to work toward the goal even in the face of great sacrifice, pain or loss.  It means never giving up until the race is over, the goal reached, the prize won.

Have you ever prayed for patience? What happened? If you’re like me and the many, many others I know who have done so, God answered your prayer by giving a situation in which you needed patience. He made us earn it by learning it!

Maturity, strength, integrity or wisdom…we must earn them. We don’t develop character by enjoying a problem free life of ease and comfort. We learn to grow in the struggle.

When we trust Jesus and follow Him, we grow.

~*~

Comfort leads to complacency, battles lead to strength, and complete trust in Jesus always leads to victory! Trust Jesus!

 

 

Choose Jesus, live free

 

Father, thank You for Your free gifts of grace, love, and salvation. Thank You for Jesus! Lord, where I need to grow and mature in my faith to be like Jesus, would You open my eyes to the opportunities You give me? Would You develop mature faith in me that I would never run from a challenge but rise up and stand on the truths of Your Word. Lord, I ask You to deepen, grow, and sustain my faith in You. I acknowledge that may mean a difficult path, but Lord, nothing means more to me than You. I want to know You more. I want to please You in my choices and my life. Change my heart and my attitude to reflect the love and mercy You have given me. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

~*~

Would you like to read more about finding freedom in Christ? My book, 31 Days of Letting Go is a 31-day prayer journey finding freedom in Christ as we let go of idols, strongholds and everything else that holds us back from living a life of victory and freedom in Jesus.

Love and blessings!

signature

Trusting God When Life is Hard

Trusting God is a choice, one we must make daily. He is faithful and can be trusted, but it is up to you and me to choose to trust Him.

Give Him whatever is weighing you down, whatever is troubling you, whatever is causing you pain~give it to God today and watch Him create something beautiful out of it. And He will bless you with rest!

“Then the Lord said to him, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.” (Gen. 31:3)
 Jacob had wronged his brother long ago, and now it was time to “fix” it. He had no idea how his brother would react to seeing him.  He was afraid.  But, he knew God is bigger than fear, stronger than any danger, and he chose to trust God.  He trusted Him with the details enough to obey.
God wants us to have true peace and lasting joy.  Not just on the surface, but deep inside in our innermost heart.  Late at night, when the world is still and quiet, He wants us to rest in complete peace!
And God knows, the only way for lasting, perfect peace—we must deal with our “stuff”.  We can’t cram it down, hide it, ignore it, or run from it.  No, the only way to be truly free is to remove its hold, its power over us, by bringing it into the light and trusting God.
God wants us to live in complete freedom in every way!  Sometimes we need forgiveness. Sometimes we need to forgive.  Sometimes, we need both.  But there is always freedom!
Trust, Obey, Rest…Repeat
 
Is there something (or someone) from your past that needs God’s reconciliation? Forgiveness? Grace? Give it to God and watch Him do the miraculous in you and through you. It won’t be easy.  It might be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.  But when we obey God, He will bring healing, freedom, and joy…
Trust God for the miraculous!  Go… right now!
God is always with me
Lord, You direct my path and guide my steps.  
Quiet my thoughts, help me be still in Your presence and hear You.  
Whatever you ask me to do, strengthen me to obey with confidence and joy, 
knowing You are with me. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
~*~

I would love to hear from you!

For prayer
If you would like prayer for any reason, it would be my joy and delight to lift you to the Father.

For encouragement
I would love to hear from you and know your thoughts on this post.  I am grateful for your encouragement, and I would love to encourage you in any way I can!

For fellowship
I would just love to “meet” you!

 And I pray you are blessed beyond measure!
signature

 

 

photo credit: DCP_1626 via photopin (license) (edited)

The Beauty of Hope

Today is a day of rejoicing! It has been one year today since Connor’s life-saving, life-changing surgery and he is doing amazing! We are praying and thinking about his future–and we rejoice in the goodness of God!

We rejoice and celebrate life and are so thankful that God answered our prayers with “yes,” but even more so, we rejoice and are thankful simply that God hears and answers our prayers!

God is not good because He gives us what we want. God is good because…God is just good. He is holy, righteous, perfect, and He loves us with a depth we can’t even understand. Yes, God is good!

We celebrate life today and thank God for every second, looking forward to whatever God has planned.

 

hopebeautiful

So, in remembrance of all that God has done and is doing, here is the original post, The Beauty of Hope, originally shared in June, 2014.

Hope!

We all need hope! In scary, painful situations, hope brings renewed energy, positive thinking, and determination. Hope brings purpose, and gives us strength to persevere. Hope is indeed a beautiful thing, and without, life can become unbearable. Yes, we all need hope.

Over the last few years, our son has faced serious life-threatening health problems with countless doctor’s visits, procedures, hospital stays, and life-saving surgery.  Facing these dangers and situations has been scary, but the fact that doctors could rarely offer us hope made it all the more difficult.

Specialists had no idea what was going on and were very clear with us that they had no idea what could happen. They were clear about the dangers, the unknown outcome, and they rarely offered hope.

We have continually heard words like “unknown” and “anomaly” but rarely words of encouragement or hope.

After the life-saving decision to remove his spleen in 2011 and then a horrifying stay in ICU, (another miracle, you can read about here), right at the moment the doctors were telling us to give up and plan for the worst, Connor miraculously began to improve!

Oh, how we rejoiced! He was getting better right before our eyes and improving minute by minute. Many of the ICU doctors and nurses came to see him; no answers, speechless. There was no human explanation. We rejoiced and thanked God—not just for the healing, but for His peace and His presence through it all!

His doctors, amazed and a bit confused by the improvement, warned us, “We have no idea what caused this, so we have no idea what to expect…he may never have another problem or he could develop serious complications or other problems at any time—we just don’t know.”

These are very scary words, and words that reveal our true dependence on God. We rely on God for our next breath, and that’s exactly what we have done!

The incredible fear that comes from the unknown, especially in the perceived absence of hope, can be debilitating and overwhelming!   Through it all, God has always been faithful and has gifted us with incredible peace beyond understanding!  He truly knows the best plan for us and we have learned to enjoy each day.

It’s amazing the perspective you gain when you are forced to constantly be aware of the possibility of fewer—or no—earthly tomorrows!

We are now 3 weeks post-op from Connor’s most recent surgery and this time, the doctors have offered us hope. They believe they have found the underlying problem and Lord willing, this surgery has fixed it!  Yes, we have no written guarantees and must still watch, wait, and trust God, but don’t we always?

God is the Author and Perfecter of our faith, He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Provider in every way. So, yes, hope from our doctors is a beautiful thing—but the hope from our God is even better!

The hope God offers is indescribable and unexplainable! The peace beyond understanding comes in the darkest times.

When there is absolutely nothing in this world that can offer hope, God does!

We are preparing for the future in exciting ways and talking about
amazing possibilities…the “what if’s” are now exciting rather than scary, and the possibilities are endless—we can do all things in Christ!

The hope we have and the difference it is making in our lives is incredible and it reminds me how precious our hope in Christ is—it makes all the difference day-to-day and for eternity!

We are never, ever hopeless with Christ—rather we have abundant, never-ending hope that continues into eternity!

We don’t have to face tomorrow—even a scary tomorrow full of every sort of challenge and difficulty—with fear.  We can look forward to an eternity of joy, hope, and love, and be filled with indescribable peace even in the midst of the deepest pain.  This is the faithful gift of Jesus!

What are you facing that is bigger than you? Is the world saying, “There is no hope”? That’s a lie! Our hope, our peace, our joy, are based on God, and, beloved, there is always hope in Him!

~*~

Hope is in the Lord

 

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your peace in the midst of painful moments and scary situations!  Thank You for loving us and protecting us and never leaving us alone in this world of sin and struggle.  Thank You for the incredible hope we have in Jesus, Amen!

Do you need hope? I would love to pray for you! Have a story of hope? I would love to rejoice with you! Please share so we can rejoice together and encourage one another as the Body of Christ, and I pray you are abundantly blessed in the fullness of Christ every day!

Would you like to receive future posts in your inbox? Please sign up today!

heartname

 

 

This post is linked up with some amazing blogs– you can find them here and I hope you will go visit them!

 

The original post The Beauty of Hope was originally published in June, 2014. This has been updated and edited.

How do We Ignite Faith in the Next Generation and Keep Them From Leaving the Church?

I have seen a number of news stories and articles lately about how the Christian church is losing the younger generation. And I will admit, as a Christian mom to two teenagers, this is alarming!

Young people, even those raised in church, are apparently leaving. Kids, active in their youth group, are growing up, graduating high school, and, as they enter into adulthood, many are leaving the church building behind. They have no desire to attend services or “fellowship” with other church members. They want nothing to do with organized religion, and they have no intention of calling themselves “Christian”.

And we say the church has lost our youth. Have we? Can you lose something that was never truly yours? I can’t help but wonder…

Have we lost them or have we failed them?

Are they leaving Jesus, or just our out-of-date, gossip-filled, judgmental congregations? If our youth have had true encounters with the living, life-changing Jesus, could they really just walk away?

And, if after years of fun-filled youth group events, they haven’t met Jesus, we have a much bigger problem than diminishing membership numbers. We’ve missed the point, we’ve lost their hearts…and they are missing Jesus!

Not all churches are “losing” the next generation. Some churches are actually growing with large groups of college-age, early 20-somethings and beyond. Some believers are actually leading new people to Christ! What is the difference?

The difference is Jesus!

Jesus says,"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, they follow Me."   (John 10:27).

So how do we ensure our youth meet Jesus? How do we keep them active in a Body of believers?

John 10:27 is the key! Believers know the voice of Jesus, know that He loves them, and they follow Him! This is what we must teach the next generation–but first, we have to evaluate our own relationship with God!

Who do We Belong To?

As believers, we belong to Jesus. We have confessed that we believe Him and we trust Him for our salvation.  But do we know His voice? Are we listening?

If we aren’t listening to Jesus, how can we ever hope to teach our kids to hear Him? When our words and actions don’t match, the discrepancy is deafening! If we confess to know Jesus, but don’t trust Him, don’t believe Him, don’t live our faith in every moment, we have no reason to expect our kids would want to join the charade!

Kids who see genuine faith and have met the Risen Lord Jesus don’t leave the Body of Christ. They develop a relationship with Him and begin to grow in their faith.

Have we taught our youth to listen and follow Him?

The Shepherd Knows His Sheep!

He knows every detail, every sin, every thought of our lives…and He loves us with an intense, unconditional love. Our relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship we will ever have. It is one that affects every other relationship in our lives. So, it is worth our time to evaluate how well we know Him!

Prayer is open, direct communication with God. If we neglect to spend time in His presence, sharing our heart and listening for His voice, we miss out on the divine knowledge and wisdom that can be ours. We miss out on His presence!

Believers who have genuine conversation with God, know Him, they know His voice. If we want our youth to know God intimately and follow Him courageously…we must teach them how to pray! Genuine, heartfelt prayer from the innermost secret heart. Not memorized, not automatic, but dialogue with our Creator, Provider, Protector, and Friend.

Sheep Follow Their Shepherd

We can’t lead our children somewhere we aren’t going ourselves. We can’t expect them to follow Jesus, be active members in their church, if we aren’t leading and guiding them by example.

Jesus will lead us on the right path. It will not always be the easy path. In fact, it usually isn’t! But it will always be the best path, the safest path, and the one that brings Him glory!

 ~*~

Finally, if we want to keep younger people involved in church, we must understand what church is…and what it isn’t. And, as always, the real issue, the deeper issue, is a heart issue.

We have to decide, “What is our goal?” What is our hope for the next generation? Do we want church members, or do we want Christ followers? Because those can be two very different things.

If church is the building, the service, the fellowship, then it can be easy to leave. “I don’t like it”, “It’s not for me”, and “I’m not comfortable” become valid reasons to avoid it.

But, if the church is alive, the living, breathing, Body of Christ, … ordinary people striving to live holy lives, honoring Christ, and sharing His love, then through His followers, people meet Jesus and experience His life-changing power, and they are transformed into believers. His power, love, and peace are undeniable and He changes everything!

When Jesus changes you, you know it, you feel it, and you want more of Jesus!

~*~

So, as Christian parents, leaders, youth pastors, as believers who are part of the Body of Christ, it’s time to evaluate…

~ Are we leading our kids to Jesus or just taking them to church?

 ~ Are we teaching our youth to love their youth group, or are we teaching them to love Jesus?

~ Are we taking them to a weekly performance, or are we showing them how to worship?

~ Are we hoping they have fun, or are we discipling them into a growing, passionate relationship with Christ?

~ Have we taught with our words, but failed them with our attitudes and our actions?

~ Are we reaching out to the hurting, the scared, the lost? Are we effectively changing lives and changing the world?

~ Are we Jesus to our world, or have we become an exclusive social club with restrictive rules, “secret handshakes”, and membership guidelines that our kids can’t wait to escape from?

The answers matter!

~*~

As a mom, and as a believer, I want nothing more than to see those I love find Jesus, to know they have discovered their purpose in life, and secured their hope for eternity. There is truly “no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth!” (3 John 1:4).

Our family has been incredibly blessed with dedicated youth pastors that have taken the time to invest in our boys. We are part of a life-giving church that exists to bring others to Jesus and is reaching the next generation. Pastors have taken time to get to know our kids and are teaching them how to follow Jesus. And for them I am eternally grateful! At home, and at church, our kids are learning that there is nothing more important than Jesus. And I pray that they will follow Jesus every day of their lives!

I know there are no guarantees. God brings the increase and every person must decide about Jesus for themselves. But, clinging to the Word of God, I pray my kids have a firm foundation and solid understanding of what it means to truly be a Christ follower, a member of the Body of Christ.

I believe there is incredible hope for our youth and for the next generation. I believe God is about to do some incredible, amazing things through them. They have exciting possibilities of being used by God in ways that we, their parents and grandparents could never have even imagined. They can reach around the world in a second. When this generation gets hold of God’s power, they absolutely change the world! The fire and passion in their young hearts is powerful. They are not window shopping. They want genuine, transforming faith in a living Savior.

It’s time the church wakes up and starts acting like the Body of Christ for the sake of the next generation!

I think it is beginning to change. I think lifeless, monotonous, empty traditions are being replaced with meaningful, genuine, life-altering transformation.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with church events and youth groups. There is nothing wrong with fun, laughter, and friends. These are good and important things. We love ours and will continue to be involved. But they can never eclipse the power of God’s Word, the love of Jesus Christ, and the need for salvation.

It’s time for the Body of Christ to stand up, stand out, and stand on the Word of God. We must live boldly as Christ followers. We must believe God’s Word, every word, and be who He has called us to be. It’s time to be real, genuine, humble servants of Christ and let His love, His power, and His glory shine through us!

As believers, we must believe. As followers, we must follow. And as redeemed, we must say so! And leave the results to God.

Jesus Changes Everything!

Follow Jesus, and bring someone with you! Lives depend on it!

john1027

Lord, I want to follow You so closely, there is no room for anything in between! Transform me, strengthen me, and equip me to share Your love with others. Help me never be a stumbling block, but use me to point others to Your Son, Jesus. Those that are leaving the church, grab hold of their hearts, and help them see You, hear You, and know You, in a deep, powerful way that can never be denied. Change their hearts and empower them to change the world for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

~~*~~


I would love to connect with you on facebook or through my website! Please visit www.micheleellison.net  or  www.facebook.com/faithtosoar

I would also love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or leave a prayer request– and I pray you are abundantly blessed in the fullness of Christ!

heartname

 

 

 

This post is linked up at these encouraging blogs: Weekly Linkups including Grace and Truth @A Divine Encounter, Faith and Fellowship @Simple Moments Stick, Christian Fellowship Friday @Holy Splendor, From to House to Home @I Choose Joy

 

photo credit: Sheep High On Blencathra via photopin (license) (edited)

Witnessing the Miraculous, Seeing Jesus!

I have not shared this story with many.  It is supernatural, incredible, and miraculous. And it is true.

In 2011, I faced the greatest fear of my entire life…and witnessed the miraculous.

In the most terrifying and difficult season of my life, I was blessed with the most intense peace…a peace that absolutely cannot be explained in human terms.  A peace beyond my understanding and impossible to explain apart from Jesus!

I “saw” Jesus holding my child.  I “saw” angels circled around his hospital bed.  I “heard” Jesus say, “I’m going with him.”

My son was about to be taken into surgery, a surgery with unknown results, unforeseen consequences, in the hopes of correcting an unknown problem. We knew his symptoms, we knew he was dying, but no one knew why.  We were scared, exhausted, and unsure, but after weeks of consultations, discussions, and countless hours of prayer, everyone agreed the surgery was the best option–no guarantees, just hope.

Right before time to wheel him away from us and into surgery, waiting in his room, praying for Jesus to ease the fear and ache in my heart…Jesus did that and more!

In an instant, a flash really, I “saw” Jesus sitting at the head of the bed holding my son in His arms. In my spirit, I heard Him say, “I’m going with Him”!  I couldn’t go with my son, but Jesus reminded me that He is always with him, and would never leave him.  He would go with him into surgery while comforting me as well.

As I stood motionless, staring at the hospital bed, filled with the most intense, incredible peace I’ve ever known, suddenly, in another flash, I “saw” protection and strength–an army of Jesus’ angels circling the bed of my son, flaming swords raised up and allowing nothing to penetrate their protection. No darkness, no fear…just light and love.

I did not hallucinate. I did not hear voices. I am not crazy. I can’t explain it in human words or worldly understanding. But Jesus, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, let me glimpse His love, His mercy, His protection. Through a miraculous moment, He gave me peace.

~*~

“And now they’re at it again! Take care of their threats and give your servants fearless confidence in preaching your Message, as you stretch out your hand to us in healings and miracles and wonders done in the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:29-30).

This past Sunday, our pastor taught one of my favorite passages of Scripture, Acts 4. One that many years ago changed my view of “church” and one that changed my life…and continues to do so every time I pray it.  I must confess, I don’t pray it often enough, and I don’t believe it enough.  It is one of those verses that the more I think I understand it, the more I realize how little I understand. But, through His Word, God will continually increase our understanding as we begin see just how big, powerful, and mighty He is.

No matter what our understanding of God is, He is more. He is bigger, more powerful, move loving, more holy…He is more, and He is enough!

As my pastor preached about the power of God and the incredible signs and wonders still happening around the world today, he revealed the reason we don’t see more here in America. We don’t have because we don’t ask. How many miracles have we missed out on because we didn’t ask for the miraculous?

As I listened, I was overcome with the memory of what God allowed me to “see” years ago, aware of the spiritual war raging around us, and, most importantly, reminded of God’s incredible, amazing, awesome love for us!

The peace that flooded that hospital room was not of this world. I was distraught, exhausted, weary, and an emotional mess before that moment. Yes, we trusted God. We had “surrendered” our son to God, deciding that no matter what, God was good and His will was perfect.  But, as a mom, I was still a wreck.

The peace Jesus gave me in that moment was complete, palpable, it filled the entire room, and was completely beyond understanding.  It was a gift from the Lord Jesus to bring me, and hopefully you, comfort and strength to keep going, to trust Him, in the painful, hardest moments of life.

So, in the spirit of Acts 4:29-30, I am boldly sharing this story, and I pray you have a glimpse of God’s glory too; I pray for more of the miraculous! I pray you and I both are transformed by His love and grace, and believe Him that in Him, nothing, no-thing, is impossible!

I don’t know if you will believe me. I don’t know if you will think I imagined this. But, as Beth Moore says, “I know that I know that I know” this happened. And I know God wants me to share it. I’ll leave the rest to Him.

But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide;  for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19)

Acts 4:29-30
Acts 4:29-30, The Message

Lord, I thank You for Your love, grace, and mercy. I praise You for Your goodness. Holy Spirit, we want to be part of Your miraculous acts. We want to see healing, signs and wonders today! We surrender our human understanding, worldly limitations we’ve placed on Your power in our lives. Fill us with a supernatural, confident boldness to proclaim Your Word and help us not be surprised when You answer. Help us expect miracles through the name of Jesus! Amen.

~~*~~



I would love to connect with you on facebook or through my website! Please visit www.micheleellison.net or www.facebook.com/faithtosoar

I would also love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or leave a prayer request– and I pray you are abundantly blessed in the fullness of Christ!

heartname

Undivided

Teach me your way, LORD, 
that I may rely on your faithfulness; 
give me an undivided heart, 
that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86:11) 
 



So many things pulling at my heart,my time, my life– some good, some not, but countless things demand my attention, scream for my focus.

I am called, just as every believer is, to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength—all of it! Not pieces, not half, not most, not what’s left…but all!  Undivided, complete, whole–all for God!

~~*~~
So how do we accomplish everything on our to-do list without becoming divided, distracted, and exhausted?  How do we honor God and bring him glory through dirty dishes, laundry, and “normal” day-to-day responsibilities?
We remember Who we are doing it for!
Actions and tasks are only as important as the One we do them for!  What we do becomes important because of Who we serve!  As followers of Christ, we have the glorious opportunity to do “all things for His glory”! (1 Cor. 10:31).
The mundane and ordinary become extraordinary when we follow God and live for Him!
When we seek Him first, He equips us with strength and perseverance.

God has been incredibly faithful to me and I am learning to rely in Him in every situation. I want my heart to be completely whole, without even a tiny piece divided, but I can’t do this on my own—only in His strength can I learn to love God completely.

~~*~~

 

Father, teach me to trust You and rely on You—You are faithful! I admit my heart is divided and distracted. Create in me a pure heart that is whole and teach me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen!



photo credit: Retro Tree via photopin (license)  (edited)

But God!

I can’t do this. But God can!

This is true for absolutely everything we do.  But, the bigger the dream, the loftier the goal, the harder the challenge, the more we realize just how true it is!

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give  you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4, NASB). 

 

~*~

This verse does NOT mean He gives us everything we want.  We can’t claim this verse for a new car, or quote it when we want new shoes.  “Well, God wants me to have the desires of my heart and I really want these shoes so He must want me to have them.”  No!  This is twisted and selfish thinking that we all, at one time or another, are guilty of.  God’s main desire for us is not our comfort.  Yes, He loves to bless His children and often does give us material things to enjoy.  But those things are never to replace our desire for Him!

So what do we delight in?  We don’t have to go searching for something to delight in  God gives us desires, dreams, passions.  He gives us what He knows will bring Him the most glory!  He–and He alone–is to be our delight.  And He (and He alone) can place that desire in us.  He gives us the dreams, passions, the longings for Who we are to be, and what we are to do.  He gives us what He knows will bring Him the most glory. And then…He gives us the strength and wisdom to fulfill them!

  I can do all things in Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13).
 

 

God takes our questions and gives us answers

God takes our fears and gives us confidence
God takes our worry and gives us peace
God takes our pain and gives us endurance
God takes our weakness and gives us strength
God takes our hopelessness and gives us hope
God takes our doubts and gives us faith
God takes our death and gives us life!
Yes, I will delight myself in the LORD! 
~*~
God desires to make us like His Son Jesus.  He has never promised to make us comfortable. He has never promised to give us every material possession we could ever want.  But, He has promised to love us, to provide for us, and to never, ever leave us! Delight in Him!

 

 
Thank You Lord for placing hopes, 
dreams and desires in my heart,
and for the opportunity to bring You glory.  
Strengthen and equip me 
to fulfill all that You have called me to do.  
I will delight in You always!  
What desire has God placed in your heart?
Trust Him and He will amaze you with indescribable joy!

Please leave a comment~ I would love to hear from you!

For prayer
If you would like prayer for any reason, it would be my joy and delight to lift you to the Father.


For encouragement
I would love to hear from you and know your thoughts on this post.  I am grateful for your encouragement, and I would love to encourage you in any way I can!

For fellowship
I would just love to “meet” you!

photo credit: heart on the top of tree_retouched via photopin (license)  (edited)

Real Relief

We all have pain, hurts, mistakes, and regrets.  We have been hurt, and we have inflicted hurt on others.  We have pain, and we have caused pain.  And It doesn’t matter if the offense is intentional or accidental, it still hurts and we want, we need, relief.

Whether seeking relief from mild discomfort or debilitating pain, headache or migraine, a hurtful word spoken or a horrible deed, we can only find real, lasting relief in one way…it’s not necessarily the shortest way, and it’s often not the easy way…but it is the only way if we want true, lasting, and meaningful relief!

When life hurts emotionally, physically, or spiritually, when we are distressed, upset, or in pain, our first, most natural reaction is to find the quickest, simplest way to bring relief…to fix it.  Sadly though, unless we truly fix it, we empower it.  If not dealt with properly, our issues will grow bigger, stronger, and possibly out of control.  Anyone relate?  Anyone been there?  Anyone there now? Think mountain out of a mole hill!  A tiny cut if left unclean and allowed to fester can grow into a raging, life-threatening infection–and this is true emotionally, physically and spiritually.

We must find real relief of the problem, not just temporary relief of the symptoms.

There are many ways to find quick-fix relief. Most of us have tried at least one, possibly tried most, and probably have tried them all in one way or another. But these are temporary solutions and rarely if ever will bring the actual comfort and relief we need–but that usually doesn’t stop us from trying!

*

Searching for Relief~ (spoiler alert… these don’t work, but we do them anyway.  Keep reading–there’s a better way and real relief is coming!)

We Try and Cover It

Embarrassment, guilt, shame, fear…any negative result from any poor choice will lead to discomfort and we will seek relief from the consequences by trying and covering up.  Whether we try and hide it or disguise it, the problem is still there, waiting to get bigger.  We are simply “putting lipstick on a pig.”  The “pig” might look better for a moment, but the lipstick–the covering–will smear, it will come off, and the “pig” is just the same.  No, actually, the “pig” is now dirtier, smeared with the very thing that tried to conceal it.  Covering–hiding–only lasts a short time, and, when uncovered, will always be worse!

We Try and Run From It

“I can’t think about that today.  I’ll think about that tomorrow.  For tomorrow is another day.” (Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind). Putting off for later what we need to deal with now only leads to more to deal with! Trying to ignore the situation drains our strength and feeds the problem.  We end up weaker with a stronger adversary.  We know in our hearts this is bad, very very bad.  But that doesn’t stop us from trying, from trying to get as far away as possible and ignore it.  “Out of sight, out of mind?”  We may not be thinking about it,but we can be sure it will return.  Given time to grow, to fester, when it returns–and it will–it will always be worse!

We Try and Fill It

When we have pain inside, we want it to stop.  We want comfort.  We want relief.  And we will often turn to something to ease our pain, numb it, disguise it.  The pain is still there, but we–for a time–can be unaware of it.  But, just like covering it up, it is simply festering under the surface, growing in the background. There are countless medications and activities to numb or distract us from the pain.  Many can become addictions–alcohol, drugs, food, the list is endless.  We simply want the pain to stop, the ache to go away.  But, we inevitably just create a new, often worse problem–and it will always be worse!

 

Finding Relief…Real Relief

 

Real relief, true healing, perfect peace, can only be found in Jesus!

Seem too simple?  It is simple, but difficult also.  The path to relief begins with recognizing our need for Jesus. And the first step toward Him (and His relief) is complete surrender–this is not easy!   We can become so busy, so overwhelmed with the problem, we miss the One source of relief.  He already knows the problem, and He is the only One with the power to fix it!

He doesn’t cover the problem…He Covers Us!

Jesus has overcome every pain, problem, and sin of this world–there is nothing, nothing, we can do, think, or say that changes this!

When we choose to believe Him, take Him at His Word, then there is nothing that can hurt us!  As children of God, we have the covering of the blood of Jesus, the blood that washes us clean and makes us holy.  We still sin, but God doesn’t see our sin, our ugliness.

Covered by Jesus, we are seen as Jesus.  Will we make mistakes and let our flesh peek out?  Of course!  But the covering can never be removed, can never be torn, can never be damaged.  Jesus is perfect and He replaces our dirty garments with a garment of praise.  He takes our “ashes”, our blackened, charred sinful lives, and He makes them beautiful.  He protects, redeems and restores.  In Jesus, we find real relief!

Jesus Strengthens Us to Run to Him…to Soar!

Jesus, the Son of God, did not run away.  He didn’t hide.  He faced challenges and struggles head-on and taught His disciples to do the same.  He teaches us to do the same and He strengthens us to fight.

He has given us impenetrable defensive armor that protects us from our enemy, and He has armed us with the Sword of the Spirit.  We are not powerless and we are not weak.  In Christ, we are empowered, equipped and protected. Our hope is renewed and we can soar on wings like eagles. But when we try to live, and fight, in our own strength, with broken, weak weapons of this world, we will lose hope, lose faith, lose the battle.

Jesus has already won the war, but we can lose many battles if we fight alone, without Him.  In Jesus, only Jesus, we find victory–we find relief!

Jesus Fills Us…Completely!

Jesus is not a temporary fill that takes the place of something else.  No, He removes the bad and replaces it with something beautiful.  He creates beauty from pain.  He makes a brand new creation–of hope, joy, and peace. He offers grace and forgiveness the old is completely gone!  Our sin, our imperfections, our ugliness, they are gone!  Replaced by Jesus’ perfect, holy life.  Never again do we need to re-live or hide from our past.  He has redeemed it, washed it clean, and created something glorious with the pieces.  There is no shame, guilt or condemnation because it is gone!

~~*~~
We need more than relief, we need healing.  And in our healing, we gain relief as a bonus!  This world offers aspirin and a band-aid when we really need a heart transplant! Jesus is the one and only true source of relief–the only hope, the only joy, the only salvation!  Trust Him today and find relief!
Thank You Jesus for loving me, dying for me that I might live!  In You, I have relief from torment and victory over death.  Teach me to live in Your strength, Your peace, Your victory and strengthen me to overcome.  In my weakest moments, remind me to turn to You first!  In Your name we come boldly to Your throne, amen!
 
***
Do you need the perfect peace, the relief, that Jesus brings?  If you don’t yet know Him, don’t wait another day.  Simply ask Him and He is with you.  Speak with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved!  (Romans 10:9).  The peace is so incredible and the relief is so amazing–don’t wait!  Accept Him today!  Please let me or another believer know so we can celebrate with you (and the angels in heaven who are rejoicing over you!)  We can also help guide you on this new and exciting journey!
I praise God for you and pray all manner of blessing in your life!  If you have been blessed in any way by this post, please leave a comment or share it! 
 
Linked with Five-Minute-Friday–where Writers write for five minutes based on the word of the week, focused on content and letting God speak—that means “no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.”  Just write–and the results are wonderful!  Come join the parts on twitter #FMFparty facebook, or find the link-up at http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/

photo credit: The Good Shepherd 130 via photopin (license)

Growing Pains

My son spent a few days in the hospital last week. He has rare and potentially serious health risks so his doctors tend to be extremely cautious, and because of his symptoms, he was admitted to the hospital .  Thankfully, it wasn’t serious and he was able to come home yesterday where he is recovering quickly.  We rejoice and praise God!

There is nothing I have experienced in life harder than watching my child, my son, suffer in pain, endure medical tests, procedures, and surgeries, and fight for his life.  He has battled many, many times and we have faced the very real possibility of having to say goodbye.

Thankfully, through prayer and amazing medical miracles, God has brought healing.  He has also brought strength!Enduring through these health scares has deepened my faith exponentially.  It has strengthened my husband’s faith, our family’s faith, even friends have shared how much they have learned to trust God as they have prayed for our son!  We rejoice and praise God!

Throughout every challenge in life, health, financial, emotional, you name it, God is faithful!  He never leaves us, never forsakes us, and never, ever abandons us to face trials on our own.  His powerful, comforting presence is always with us.  But He doesn’t always remove the challenge right away.  And, we must accept that He may not remove it at all.

We’ve heard the saying that sometimes He calms the storm, and sometimes He calms His child.  This is true, and, either way, He wants deeper, stronger faith that can withstand any storm.

My best friend recently shared a tender moment between her and her daughter that has touched my heart and reminded me about the importance of growing spiritually.  She has been experiencing horrible aches and growing pains that keep her awake at night.  One night, recently, she asked her mom…

“Why can’t I just grow peacefully?”  

She understood that the pain was a result of the growing process.  She would be taller, stronger, more mature, but first she had to go through the process.  She had to grow.  She just wished it could be peaceful rather than painful.

But growth it seems is never peaceful.  We earn our character, stature, height, wisdom…our maturity comes from growing, and growing almost always hurts! And just like a child who is getting bigger, we must earn our spiritual growth too.

God wants our faith to be stronger, and our understanding of Him to continually grow deeper.  He desires for us to grow in wisdom and love. But He also knows that to receive the full benefits, to reap the full rewards, we have to endure the growing process.  And, that often means growing pains.

When hardships and trials come or tragedy blindsides us, we may be tempted to cry out in anger and ask God “Why? Why did this happen?  Why did You allow this?”  And in these moments of heartache, in the midst of suffering, and during the struggle, we are faced with a choice.  And it is a huge choice with life-changing consequences–eternal consequences!

 

We Must Choose

 

Option 1~~We can trust God, remembering His faithfulness, reminding ourselves that if He has allowed this pain, then He will use it for good.  We can choose to trust God and allow Him to bring comfort, love and peace through the growing process, understanding and remembering that we will reap the benefits of a more mature, enduring faith, even in the pain and suffering of the moment.

Option 2~~We can get angry, allowing unforgiveness and bitterness to take root and grow.  We can focus on our pain and the situation, only looking inward at ourselves and our own feelings.  We can run from God and unwittingly choose to live in agony.  Our pain will grow, and the hope inside us will begin to die.

And make no mistake, we will make a choice.  And if we are not intentional to choose God and move toward Him, we will slip and slide away from Him–not choosing God is choosing to leave Him! And we will reap the consequences of our choice.

One choice leads to peace, comfort, and unbelievable growth.
The other only leads to more pain.

One choice offers hope.
The other removes all hope.

One choice leads to life.
The other only leads to death.

The choice is completely ours to make.  We must choose wisely and we must be intentional about our choice. God will never force us to Himself, but He will call us and empower us with wisdom…if we ask.  So how do we choose correctly?  How do we ensure that in the hardest moments of our life, our faith will stand?

*

Ideally, we will begin to prepare our hearts and minds before tragedy strikes.  Jesus has warned us that we will face trials of every kind, hardships, even persecution.  We need to live aware of the risks, but even more aware of the power of God which is in us.  Choose right now, today, how you want to react to the next struggle.  The trial will come, but Jesus has already overcome!

 

*

Prayer is a powerful weapon and essential to living on purpose.  God is fully aware of what He will allow in our lives.  He is also fully prepared to help us, lead us, guide us, and teach us through every situation if we let Him.  Spend time in His presence before, during, and after hardships–in every moment, God’s Spirit is with us and He will use all things for good–let Him!

*

Transparency and humility will make all the difference! We must put aside our pride, stop trying to “have it all together”, and we must recognize the sin of relying on our own strength to persevere.

We tend to respect and reward stoic, “I can do this” attitudes, forgetting that it is God who is the true source of strength. We weep in private and smile in public. We fake endurance and decline help when it is offered.  And we are not only robbing ourselves of the true healing strength that God offers, we deprive others the joy of serving God and loving His bride.

 

We must learn to be transparent with our brothers and sisters in the faith. And, we must learn to love others above ourselves. Sometimes we will be in need, and other times, we can offer comfort.  We must learn to do both in joy and humility!

~~*~~

We know we can’t always control our circumstances, but we can decide how we will react to them. And in every moment of life, we have a life or death choice to make.

Will we grow, or will we wither and die?  

 

The Holy Spirit has been given to us, and through Him, God’s love has been poured into our hearts. We have peace in abundance and incredible hope, even in times of trial.  Our sufferings begin a growing process in us that leads to endurance, character, and hope.  In our suffering, we have the opportunity for growth, the chance to develop a mature faith that will never fall or stumble, but will stand triumphantly no matter what storm is raging around us.

 

So can we grow peacefully?  Can we ever say a prayer or do a good work, and poof, instantly be more mature, stronger in our faith and trust?  Well, God can do anything, and in Christ, we can do all things, but, for lasting growth, for true, deep strong maturity, we almost always must go through the process, and endure growing pains.

 

This is how we learn endurance, develop character, and increase in hope.  This is how we become unshakable.  This is how we come to know, without a doubt, no matter what, that God is faithful and loves us.  Always!And this is why we can rejoice in all things–even our suffering! Not because we enjoy suffering, but because we know it will lead to a deeper, more intimate relationship with God!

 

So often, we want immediate healing, instant answers to our prayers, quick results.  But God wants deeper faith, complete trust, and stronger followers.  So today, whatever you are facing, trust God. Ask for healing, pray for miracles, and trust Him that His answer–and His timing are perfect!  And remember, even though the process hurts, there are amazing, unbelievable, eternal rewards when we trust God!
~~*~~
Father, You are faithful.  You are good.  You love me.  Help me trust You completely and rejoice in all things, even in my suffering.  You will grow me, and develop my faith as I learn to overcome and find strength in You.  Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who comforts me, sustains me, and fills me with Your love.  I choose to trust You and let You grow my faith in You until I am unshakable.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!
 
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

 

photo credit: Growing Shrub via photopin (license)

The Pink Toothbrush

God promises us in His Word that He is faithful. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and His grace is sufficient for all our needs. He can be trusted in all things, big and small, and sometimes, it is the seemingly small things that can become the biggest blessings! Sometimes, when our world is spinning out of control and all we can manage to do is hang on, something seemingly insignificant and small can grow to a huge worry. Sometimes that last straw can bring us crashing down. Yet, God sees all. He knows our hearts and what we can handle, and its in those moments, He holds us the closest and loves us the sweetest.

My dear sister in Christ and amazing friend Tiffany has steadfastly been a light for Jesus and a picture of a Proverbs 31 woman caring for and loving her family through times of blessings and times of struggle. Recently, her family has been in a season of hardship and struggle, yet they remain faithful and trusting in God, and He has been so faithful to care for and provide for them. They are a picture of a modern-day family struggling to make ends meet in a financially unstable world. They share the love of Christ with those around them when like so many of us, that is all they have to share. They are a family clinging to God through the storm and trusting Him to provide and that is exactly what our God does!

In one of those moments when one more thing is more than we can take, Tiffany broke down when she realized her sweet baby girl needed a new toothbrush and the budget was spent. There was nothing left yet the need remained. She cried out to God, and just cried, as she asked for help. God in His awesomeness heard her, just as He hears us all in our deepest times of need and answered in such a powerful and sweet way.  Not with a loud boom but with a sweet whisper of love and with the body of Christ answering their call to love one another. 

Bible study that evening brought more than the usual blessing of fellowship. She arrived with a heavy heart and anxious thoughts, but left refreshed, loved, and carrying a bag of groceries!  Because of the love and obedience of a sister in Christ, her family now had the essentials, but God had even more in mind.  Inside the bag of groceries was a brand new toothbrush, but not just any toothbrush, a little girl’s pink toothbrush- exactly what she needed most at that moment but no one knew but God!  That is the loving amazing God we serve! That is the power of Christian brothers and sisters simply living in obedience and being the hands and feet of Jesus!

We don’t need millions of dollars or fancy cars. We don’t need big ornate homes or an ocean view. We simply need to trust that the same God who holds the earth in the palm of His hand, also holds us and cares for us deeply, providing for our every need. He loves us more then we can imagine or even understand. He loves us too much to always give us what we want, but He always gives us what we need even when that is just a sweet reminder of that very love- even a pink toothbrush…. no, espeially a pink toothbrush!

LORD, we are in awe of Your goodness and Your unfathomable love for us! You see our deepest desires and You lavish Your love and blessings on us. You hold us tightly through the storm and sometimes even calm the storm, but either way, Your love sustains us and provides.  Lord, help us see Your blessings all around us and not be so busy or distracted we miss them. Help us not be so consumed in the big things that we miss the mighty display of love in the seemingly small things. Help us to remember that the small things are really what life is all about! Thank You God that You hear our cries, thank You for Your love and mercy, and Lord, thank You for pink toothbrushes exactly when we need them! In the name of Jesus, AMEN.