Brokenness

glass__lucent_heart_by_raingarden

I had an experience last week that I’ve shared pretty widely on my personal social media channels, but whose impact was/is so profound on me that I wanted to share with you all.

glass__lucent_heart_by_raingardenI have three children, two daughters (5- and almost-4-years-old) and a son who is 2.  Last week, my younger daughter ended up getting glasses quite unexpectedly.  As a result, my husband and I thought it best if we have her older sister checked out, too.  Just to be safe, y’know?

Neither girl had ever complained of eye or head issues.  Teachers never perceived challenges seeing the board or things across the room.  And the girls themselves never mentioned not being able to see or having issues seeing.

So imagine my surprise when my oldest daughter tested with a vision of 130/20 in one of her eyes.  (For comparison’s sake, healthy, non-impaired vision for young children is about 30/20. )  The other eye saw nearly perfectly and has been compensating for this weaker eye for her entire life.

I sat stunned as my daughter’s exam continued.  Even the doctor, assistant, and later the eyeglass provider remarked at how remarkably vast the difference was in her two eyes, and how unbelievable it was that she’d never complained.

My daughter would end the night sporting brand new purple specs.  I would still be thinking about the experience days later.

That stuck with me was this idea that what the world would deem as inoperable, no good, legally blind, or some other trite categorization God had blessed to be perfect.

With the vision my daughter has in her weaker eye, it is truly a miracle that she doesn’t have many more scrapes, bumps, bruises and injuries.  But because of the power of God, to touch an imperfect thing, she’s seeing as close to 20/20 as a child can.

We all have broken places in our lives.  Relationships that left us wounded and scarred.  Bad experiences and past mistakes that have broken our faith, our expectation and motivation.

But God wants to give us peace for our pieces.  He wants to put back together that which the world would say is beyond saving, beyond repairing, beyond earthly good.

God specializes in taking all of our nothingness and making it something.  He is a master at perfecting the imperfect and blessing the unbelievable.

You may think that your situation is too far gone.  The debt is too high.  Your income is too low.  You’ve been hurt too many times; abused too many times.  You’ve made too many bad choices, too many wrong decisions.  You might even believe that now, because of all you’ve been through, you’re no good to anyone.  You’ll never be loved.  You’ll never get promoted.  You’ll never see increase.  You’ll never know peace.  That child will never come home.  That spouse will never act right.

Whatever your never is, I urge you to give it all to God.  The Bible urges us to cast our cares on Him once and for all because He cares for us passionately.

Give all of your broken places and pieces to the one Potter who can put them all together again.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been walking through life feeling victimized and handicapped.  Perhaps you, like my daughter, have only known one way, one view on life.  You’ve only every known setbacks, let-downs and disappointments.

If you’ll keep walking the path He has for you with joy and gratitude, letting Him have all that you have, He’ll give you perfection.  He’ll give you clarity.  He’ll give you vision.  He’ll give you all the tools you need to walk into a new season with Him and for Him.

You are enough just the way you; broken pieces and all.  And it matter not whether the world sees it or says it.  Heck, it doesn’t even matter whether you see it.  All that matters is that you believe that God sees perfection in you His imperfect being.  And it’s His heart’s desire that you experience abundance – divine perfection and clarity – in every area of your life.

***

My daughter loves her glasses .  She loves the color and how she looks in them.  She doesn’t quite understand why she needed them – she’d always been OK with how she was seeing.  But isn’t just like God to show us better when we can show him that we’re grateful for all we already have?

Seek God for the blessing in your brokenness.  There’s one there, if you’d just give the pieces over to Him.

More Than Thankful

Last week was Thanksgiving and it was a wonderful time.

Surrounded by friends, family – immediate, extended and distant – I was swathed in visual reminders of just how blessed I am.

But I find that today, a full week after the food, festivities and fellowship have ended, I am still meditating on this theme of being thankful.

As I drove to Thanksgiving dinner with my husband and children, the Lord challenged me to move from a place of simple thankfulness to one of appreciation.

You see, the typical definition of thankful is to be pleased.  Whereas, the definition of appreciation is to show gratitude.

I believe that one of milestones in our walks with Christ is to move from a place of simply being pleased and/or relieved by the blessings and favor He showers on us, to being appreciative – grateful for it all and, dare I say, gleaning a lesson from the good, the bad, the indifferent and the downright ugly.

Yes, I am thankful to God for my family and friends.  For every smile of my children and kiss from my husband.  I’m grateful for our home and all of the material blessings God’s afforded us.  I’m grateful for employment, for passion and a vision to fulfill the purpose God has created and is calling me to fulfill.

But I appreciate every disagreement I have with my husband because it challenges me to grow in love.

I appreciate every tear and tantrum from my children because it demands I walk in patience.

I appreciate every time my bank account was empty or even (dare I be real?) overdrawn, because it forced me to learn better stewardship and reminded me of my true Source.

I appreciate every person who told me I wasn’t good enough, because it demanded that I return to what God told me to do.

I appreciate every setback, every hurry-up-and-wait on the road to this season in my career, because it taught to me to trust God’s plan.

I appreciate every negative word spoken about me and/or to me, because it meant I had to rely on who God says I am.

I appreciate every phone call I made that went unanswered, because it challenged me to call on the Lord.

I appreciate every difficult decision and mistake that I’ve made, because they forced me to seek God and His plan for me.

Why, you ask?  How is that so?  How can I be equally grateful for the “good” and the “bad”?

Well, because for me, this time, living in this season of thankful appreciation, is a confirmation of what the word says in Roman 8:28 (NIV):

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Know this.  I can’t speak for you.  And I am by no means knocking your thankfulness but I am challenging you to look thank about being thankful in a broader sense.

Aggressively find your silver lining.  Proactively seek out the blessing in your mess.

Not simply because it’s a good habit or because it will grow your faith, but because I believe this is how God has called us to live; this is how we exemplify that we are in this world but not of it.  Through out outlook, our perspective.

As the holiday season continues, I pray that you will continue to be shown reasons to be both thankful and appreciative, and that you bless God for them both.

Meditate on this…

YouTube video courtesy of Gregory Slack

Don’t Hate the Wait

So, this post is going to just be real. And the real deal is that even when God has promised us things, sometimes – often times, perhaps – we have to wait to receive those blessings.

And let’s be honest: waiting sucks.

I mean really. The time between confirmation and taking possession can seem painfully long and uneventful.

In that time, it is easy to become discouraged; to doubt what’s God’s said; and to even question your faith.

So, as I am in a season of waiting now, I thought I’d share with you some things we can do while we wait.

  1. Praise God. Once we receive word that more or better or next is coming, we should immediately go into a season of worshipping and praising God to thank Him for His favor, His provision, and His blessings. Thanking Him with praise, especially before you take possession is a line in the sand to God. God I believe your Word, I believe your power and I know it’s coming. Thank you.
  2. Excel Where You’re Planted. If you’re anything like me, once you know new/next/promotion is coming, it can be hard to remain focused on the task – or job – at hand. But the reality is that at some point THIS was what you were waiting for God to provide. So we honor God by doing everything as to His service and to honor Him. So what better way to say thank you Lord for making a way than by ensuring that you continue to take care of what He’s already given you…while you wait for what He’s promised?
  3. Serve Others. In the moments when God says, “OK [insert your name here], this is what I’m going to do for you,” it’s all about you. But we must be careful not to stay in a self-centered mode as we prepare for promotion. In fact, the best way to remain humble and to prepare for the new levels of service you’ll be expected to meet when God promotes you is to serve others now. Stop thinking about yourself – no matter how great and exciting the news is – and start focusing on others. Are there folks God’s placed in your circle that could use your encouragement, time, resources or kind words? There are no coincidences in Christ. Likewise we are called to minister from every place in our lives because there’s always someone you can help.
  4. Be Present. When I get confirmation of what’s to come, I have a habit of sprinting far off into the future, planning future events based on what I don’t even have yet. Don’t do that! Remain present in the here and now. Besides the fact that the Word is clear that tomorrow will have its own cares and troubles, we must always remember that tomorrow isn’t promised. Sure, allow yourself a few minutes to daydream about what God is capable of, but then come back and firmly anchor yourself in today. The best way to be prepared for tomorrow is to make it through today. We miss so much of our life’s journey while racing into the what could be of our futures.
  5. Take Inventory. The reality is that even when God says He’s got a blessing for us, we won’t be released from our present season until our work is done; until we’ve given what we’ve come to give and received what we’ve come to get. Bottom line. So it is imperative that we are even more diligent in seeking God’s guidance in the moments after confirmation of a new season/new blessing so we can be clear what work we must wrap up where we are. If you think waiting to take possession of your blessing is hard, imagine how hard it is to realize some time later that you could have had it sooner if only you’d sought God’s roadmap.
  6. Be Grateful. I mean be grateful for what you already have. Be grateful that God loves you enough and cares enough for you to want to bless you and give you more. Be grateful that He’s given you health and strength to walk the road He has you on. Be grateful for life and family and for another day. Decide that your joy won’t be anchored in the gifts, but in the Gift-Giver. This his how you ensure that your head is in the right space – and your heart – when it’s finally time to receive.

Look, I know it isn’t easy. And it isn’t fun. But waiting – with faith and patience and grace – are necessary for God to perfect us and for His will to be done.

And, as not helpful as this might seem, the reality is that we aren’t called to wait in our strength, our own way. In fact, we are reminded that even our waiting should be done His way, so that He can be glorified and so that our faith in Him can grow. Consider these two scriptures:

Galatians 6:9 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Isaiah 40:31 – but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Yes, there is even a way to wait victoriously and to honor God!

So, here’s my final thought: don’t hate the wait! It’s a part of life – natural and spiritual – and plays a critical role in our development. Follow these tips, and whatever other instructions you’re led to follow in your waiting season, and you’ll be walking into your “new” before you know it!

Don’t be Ungrateful

This week, I was convicted…for being ungrateful.

Here’s the deal.

During the Lenten season, God birthed very specific dreams and prayers in my spirit.  I prayed those prayers – circled them, as my Pastor has taught me – for weeks upon weeks and month after month.

I moved from a place of cautiously accepting that these were God-inspired thoughts, to faithfully expecting these prayers to come to fruition.

To answer my prayers and further His plan for my life, God had to create an opportunity.  Just. For. Me.

The plan that He unfurled before me checked each of the specifications of my prayers to the letter.  It was both exciting and humbling.  Overwhelming and perfect.

Just as His plan was coming to fruition though, I began to question whether it was indeed the path I was supposed to take.

(Despite the fact that He confirmed and reconfirmed that that was indeed my path in many a subsequent prayer.)

Well, I guess He finally got fed up with my double-mindedness.

One morning this week during my prayer and quiet time He said, “I created this opportunity just for you.  It is exactly what you asked for to accomplish exactly what I need for your life.”

And just like that I got the revelation that I was being ungrateful.

Not in the strictly traditional sense of not appreciating a gift given to me, but in a new way of not rejoicing fully in an answered prayer – a gift custom-made for me.

Somehow, this brand felt like a deeper, different kind of ungratefulness and I quickly repented, overjoyed to return to the peace of knowing that I was walking in God’s will and plan for my life.

But man, the memory of knowing that I was ungrateful, that I’d allowed my worldly eyes to discolor the truth of what God said I could do and have.  That still stings.

Here’s what I know now friends: it can be hard to see this flavor of ungratefulness because it doesn’t present itself as the sour-mouthed, plain face one usually recognizes when the gift you’ve just received isn’t quite what you expected.

No this kind of ungratefulness presents itself as, “I just want to be sure it’s you God.”  “Hmm, is it really God’s will or mine?”  Or even, “This is too good to be true; it can’t be for me.”

So, let me share these three quick tips with you so you can avoid being ungrateful when God answers your prayers so well you just can’t believe the blessing is for you:

1. Don’t doubt the power of your own prayers.  Often we ask for and look for and seek prayers from others thinking that if Sister So and So and Brother So and So pray for your situation then surely God will move.  The reality is that yes, there is power in numbers, but each of us has our own individual relationship with God and can go to Him for ourselves thanks to Christ.  I prayed a prayer birthed in my Spirit months ago.  God heard it and immediately began working on my behalf.  Faith in God is critical.  Belief in the power of YOUR prayers is too.  Combined, these things will be the confirmation we need when God shows up and shows out on our behalf.

2. Don’t resent the down time.  I wanted God to answer my prayer when I wanted it; much sooner than God’s timeline.  I became so married to seeing God move according to my schedule that when it didn’t happen I started to question if I was going in the right direction, if the path I was on was in fact where He wanted me to go.  But, I learned early on in this season that promotion before preparation results in poor performance — and sometimes failure.  So I’m contently waiting for God to align things EXACTLY how they need to be for me to succeed and for Him to get ALL the glory.  In the meantime, opportunity after opportunity is being thrown my and my family’s way.  I’ve realized that they aren’t all for us to move on them now — they’re a foretelling of what’s to come and a reminder to soak up this down time.  New seasons often mean increased demand on us (spiritually and in the world) so rest up now because promotion soon comes.

3.  Don’t lose sight of your dreams.  For me it was a number.  A number that I felt like came out of nowhere, was too high, and I didn’t deserve.  It was a dream.  A dream that at different times along this journey other paths seemed to promise me.  But it was in those times that I knew I had to stay focused on God’s will, God’s plan, and His path.  Sometimes what looks like “options” are actually just distractions to keep you from getting where God wants you to go.  God knows us, but most importantly, He knows what He’s put in us.  Don’t let viewing your God-given dreams through the lenses of this world cause you to doubt the very things God has said He wants to give to you.  He’ll do it…He never fails.

You know, the word says in Proverbs 3:5-6:

    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.

If we really, truly, deep down believe this scripture then there is no way that we should ever be surprised, overcome/overwhelmed, anxious or fearful to the point of freezing in place when God answers our prayers directly.

I think somewhere along the way religion made us believe that the only way we could ever really get anything good in our lives was to go through hell.  But, I would argue that that is contrary to the word of God which tells us that He orders our steps and makes our paths straight.

So the next time you see the manifestation of some audacious prayer that you’ve prayed, don’t be ungrateful.

Our God is a God of right now, suddenly, and exceedingly and abundantly.  And He loves you enough – SO MUCH in fact – that He delights in blessing you.

So, whoever you are reading this.  I believe God led you here because you’ve been asking Him for confirmation.  You’ve been asking Him to give you a sign that this huge blessing, this too-good-to-be-true blessing is really for you.

Pray once more asking God if this is the sign.  And if afterwards you feel peace about accepting your blessing, know that it was God answering your prayers and believe that He tailor-made that blessing just for you.

And please, don’t be ungrateful.

I’ll leave you with this classic hymn that serves as a reminder to not just be grateful, but that our God is a God of balance.  So no matter how tough your trials have been, know that your blessings will be just that big!

Favor Ain’t Fair

*Today I share a mini-sermon from two of my Mothers-in-Christ.  This is just to encourage that person who is looking at someone else’s life and wondering, “Why is He doing all that for her/him? What about me?” I hope this blesses you!

I’ve often heard people quote Acts 10:34-35 that God is no respecter of persons. But I think we have been mis-educated about its meaning. My understanding of it had been whatever God does for one person He will do the same for any person. I beg to differ with that interpretation.

Here are the verses:

34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.

The back story on that verse is this is the first time Peter was preaching to Gentiles and he wanted them to know that God saw them the same as the Jewish people with the same entitlements.

So, the question to me then is does God have favorites?

Well, having read about His relationship with Abraham, whom he visited and ate with; Moses, whom He saved to use to free his people; David, who was a king of His heart; Solomon, the re-builder of His temple; Job, whom He knew trusted Him even if He killed him; Peter, James, and John who formed His inner circle while on this earth; and John who we know He just loved the most, I think YES God does have favorites.

I would then ask can anyone be his favorite?  And I believe that answer would also be YES.

And finally, HOW?

God has given us ALL a measure of faith.  Many of us work on a ‘mustard seed’ sample of faith but is that the measure?  No; faith can grow.  We know that faith needs works.  We know that God loves praise and worship.  We know that God wants us to trust Him and not be of a double mind.  God always searches our hearts.  It is our faith that moves the heart and hand of God. And oh, don’t forget predestination.  We can’t leave that out.

So, yes, God is a respecter of person. Be clear though: God is not a respecter of person from outward appearances, but He definitely is based on the condition of the heart.

Bottom line, God may not do to and through you what He is doing for someone else; but, He definitely has plans for you. Plans to prosper you, in your own special way according to His purpose and condition of your heart, and to give you a future (Jer 29:11).

No, favor ain’t fair, but we all thank God for the measure of faith and favor He’s given us each…and for the ability to grow in both!

 

The B-Side

I’ll start this post by providing a disclaimer: for some, this post may be uncomfortable.

It was uncomfortable for me to receive this loving conviction this morning, but it was a necessary reality check.

Consider this post the B-side to all of the “He’s gonna bless you/Wait on Him/It’s Coming” posts of late.

Let’s start with the scripture…

Isaiah 43:16-24 MSG

[16-21] This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, The God who summons horses and chariots and armies— they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’ —the coyotes and the buzzards—Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.

[22-24] “But you didn’t pay a bit of attention to me, Jacob. You so quickly tired of me, Israel. You wouldn’t even bring sheep for offerings in worship. You couldn’t be bothered with sacrifices. It wasn’t that I asked that much from you. I didn’t expect expensive presents. But you didn’t even do the minimum— so stingy with me, so closefisted. Yet you haven’t been stingy with your sins. You’ve been plenty generous with them—and I’m fed up.

Anyone else saying ouch, yet?

As  I sought God in my quiet time this morning, pouring out my frustrations and needs and wants for what must be the millionth time, the Lord led me to this scripture.

As I read it, two things became clear to me.

1. God knows what I need.  He knew before I asked and He is working things out for me even now.  But I’ve been so self-absorbed, so focused on the job applications that were denied; the doors that were shut; the temporary circumstances around me that I’d fail to see the new connections He’d blessed me with; the new opportunities He was placing before me; and the BIGGER, BETTER plan that He has for me.

I bet I’m not alone in this.  Sometimes we reach a point where the sum total of our woes appear to overwhelm us; they’re all we can think about.  And instead of seeking the Blesser and the Way Maker, we begin looking only for His blessings and for a way to be made on our behalf.

We must never allow our temporary circumstances to cause us to take our eyes off of what’s important and Who is important.  In fact,  when I asked God this morning, “Well, what should I be thinking about? I feel like this is all I can see.”  He took me to Matthew 6:25-34 (to remind me that indeed He is aware of my situation) and Philippians 4:8-9 (to tell me what I should be focused on).  And then, as if to drive the point home of what order my priorities should be in, He reminded me of Matthew 6:33 again: SEEK. GOD. FIRST.

2. God isn’t an ATM.  I cannot continue to go to Him, broken, seeking and desperate, taking withdrawal after withdrawal of his peace, reassurance, favor, and grace.  The reality is, this is a relationship, a two-way street of give and take.  Will it ever be balanced?  No, I will never be as faithful as God nor is it possible to out-give Him.  But He blesses and appreciates my effort.

The second part of the scripture above – “You did not even do the minimum” – really struck me.  At a minimum, God wants us to take note of all He’s done for us.  At a minimum, God wants us to say thank you, to give Him the worship and honor and glory and praise that He’s due.  At a minimum, He wants us to at least look around, consider how our lives could be and praise Him like the God who has saved our raggedy behinds time after time after time.  Like the God who made ways out of no way.  Who healed us.  Saved us. Protects Us. Calls us.  Anoints and appoints us.  AT A MINIMUM.  Doesn’t that God – that all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God – deserve the best worship we can give Him?   And not our sloppy seconds.  I’m guilty.  Thinking I’m going to stay up for a few minutes longer to get my prayer and Bible time in after I’ve given my best and my all to my job, my kids, my husband, my house, and my own interests.

How dare I?  I have not been giving God the minimum of what He’s due.

Lord, I repent.  I am so sorry.  Please forgive me.

***

This post isn’t for everyone.  I know that.  But I believe that there is someone like me who finds themselves weighed down with all the “stuff” in their lives: responsibilities, desires, wants, needs, even God-given dreams and visions.  And we’re in a place where those things are now so all-consuming that even though we desire to get back to God, we don’t know the way back.  We feel stuck, overwhelmed with a reality we no longer recognize or want.

If that’s you, know that the only things you need to do to reclaim the joy and peace that is rightfully ours through Christ Jesus are to repent for your selfish thoughts; receive God’s forgiveness; refocus on what He’s done (count your blessings! — perhaps literally!); and start giving God the worship and honor and praise that He’s due.

Period.

He’s a good God.  He won’t hold it against us that we got lost, that we ended up in this “It’s All About Me” wasteland.  And He won’t change His BIGGER, BETTER plans for us either.  He’ll just keep loving us, blessing us, protecting us, and being the awesome God that He is.

We can praise that, can’t we?  At a minimum?

I decided this morning, when I emerged from my prayer closet, that I’m taking back the joy and the peace that is mine.  I’m shifting my focus from me to others and am committed to thanking God with each breath I take through my actions, thoughts and words.

He’s just that good.

It’s the least I can do.

Monday Motivation

Good morning, good morning, good morning!

This is going to be a quick-and-dirty, Monday motivation.

(You can skip to the prayer by clicking here.)

I thank my girlfriend AZ for this reminder.

Amos 9:13-15 (MSG):

“Yes indeed, it won’t be long now.” God’s Decree.

“Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once—and everywhere you look, blessings! Blessings like wine pouring off the mountains and hills. I’ll make everything right again for my people Israel:

“They’ll rebuild their ruined cities.
They’ll plant vineyards and drink good wine.
They’ll work their gardens and eat fresh vegetables.
And I’ll plant them, plant them on their own land.
They’ll never again be uprooted from the land I’ve given them.”
God, your God, says so.

I know some of you may tire of my “hang in there” devotions, but I keep posting them for a few reasons.

First, it’s ministering to me.  I hope you all know that everything I share here is borne out of lessons the Lord has taught or is teaching me.  I write to inspire, encourage and perhaps ‘wisen’ others. If you don’t have to make my mistakes, then don’t!

Second, it’s necessary.  I KNOW that YOU are believing God for SOMETHING: new job, new house, spouse, promotion, provision to start a new business, resources to move to your “next.” Whatever it is, don’t give up on God!  I would challenge you though to ponder this: could your blessing be delayed because you’re still trying to make it happen in your own strength?  Be very careful.  My Pastor, Mark Batterson, often says, “Work like it  depends on you and pray like it depends on God.”  There is always a point when you’ve done all you can.  And in that moment, surrender, release the reigns, and press in to God’s presence so He can bring “it” home.  Still trying to make it happen – through forced emails, phone calls, meetings or whatever – only delay’s God’s divine plan for you.

Finally, it’s how I’ve been led.  Nothing I write here is of my own volition.  Rather, it’s how the Holy Spirit prompts me.  I believe that if only one other person reads this today (or ever!), it was the person for whom God ordained this word.  Nothing more, nothing less.  And as God’s vessel, His hands, feet and eyes on Earth, I just want to be used by Him.

So, where are you on the road to your next season/opportunity/position?

Has God just dropped this dream in your Spirit?  Have you written it down and are believing Him for it?  Or are you seeing the first whispers of fulfillment come to fruition?  Wherever you are on the continuum, God says, “It won’t be long now.”

Know that even in your waiting, God’s blessing you.  While we often only know that we’re blessed when there is some physical, material manifestation, the reality is that there are so many other blessings we receive around the clock that we often overlook.  Patience.  Increased faith.  Discernment.  Wisdom.  Protection from a misstep or tragedy. Kindness.  Humility.  Preparation for what’s coming.

There’s a blessing in your waiting.  There’s a purpose to your pause.  Enjoy the ride and don’t give up on the big picture!

Remember, you and I serve a God who always sees the big picture.  He knows how this pause, this valley experience, is critical for your success when you get the new house, the new car, the new job, the new salary or whatever.

Don’t let the enemy convince you that God’s forgotten you.  He hasn’t.  He won’t.  He can’t – he isn’t capable of forgetting you because He created you especially for His purpose. There is something He needs done in the world that ONLY YOU can accomplish.

So, today isn’t just a new day, it’s a new opportunity for God to grow you in ways you can both see AND not see.  In fact, if you’re reading this right now, breathing, seeing with eyes that work, you’ve been immeasurably blessed already today!  And it’s still early!

Don’t give up.  God says, “It won’t be long yet!”  And I believe God!  Don’t you?!

Know that I’m excited about what God is about to do in YOUR life!  I hope you are, too!

MY PRAYER FOR YOU:

Lord God, I thank you for every person that will read this devotion.  I pray God that you would break every shackle in their lives – shackles of fear, doubt, worry, negative self-image, lack of confidence, lies of the enemy – anything that stands in the way of them receiving all of the MORE you have in store for them.  God, I speak against the hand of the enemy right now.  I rebuke the devil on their behalf and proclaim that you are Lord of all, and Lord of their lives.  God I pray that Your will for their lives will be fulfilled during their lifetimes, and that they will right now and from this moment on begin walking in the fullness of your joy, peace, grace, mercy, victory and favor.  Heavenly Father, I know you to still be in the way-making, miracle-making, heart-fixing, mind-regulating business.  So I ask God that whatever they stand in need of you’ll provide to them according to your goodness and mercy and according to your plan for their lives, in Jesus’ name.  Heavenly Father, I bind the hand of the enemy in their lives, especially those Lord who are fighting the devil in their minds; those who are fighting to remember who YOU say they are while the enemy whispers lies of their defeat into their minds.  God, I pray that you would strengthen the Holy Spirit in them that they may hear your voice clearly and speak Your truth right back to the devil.  God I know that it is not happenstance that you brought them here.  So I stand in agreement with every one of the readers whose eyes will fall on this post, because your word says that where two agree you are faithful to do just what we ask.  God I thank you for answering their prayers.  I thank you for the overflow of peace you’ll reign on them right now.  Thank you for reminding them that you are still in control and that you haven’t forgotten them and that the best is yet to come.  Thank you God for making each one of these readers a part of my spiritual family.  I pray your blessings on every home, family, marriage and person represented by each viewer of this post, and I pray that each reader will accept you as their personal Lord and Savior.  I bless your name God and thank you for blessing these my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ.  In Jesus’ name I pray and ask all these things, Amen.

Devotional: Walking Jackpot

A few months back, on the way home from our date, my husband mentioned to me that the Powerball jackpot had reached $500 million.

I looked at him, bemused, and we spent the duration of our car ride daydreaming about how we’d spend $500 million.

We decided that we’d tithe to a number of churches, all of which had played a role in our spiritual development.

We talked about putting money aside for our children and for our retirement.

We then dreamed about being able to pay off family members’ bills, their mortgages, car notes, student loan debts.

It was fun to think about how many people we could bless with $500 million.

Once I got home, I found myself still giddy at the thought of being able to be such a blessing.

That’s when I heard in my Spirit, “You don’t have to have millions of dollars to be a blessing.”

***

It’s true: everyday that we’re blessed to walk this earth we are blessed to be a blessing to someone else.

With the gift of speech we can speak encouragement and blessings over someone else.

With the ability of our legs we could run errands for those unable.

With whatever money we have we could forego our lattes and coffees in exchange for meals for the hungry, the homeless, the less fortunate.

If we have jobs we can do those jobs to the very best of our ability, being a blessing to our bosses and organizations.

If we have a car, we can use it to help those without cars make it to their appointments or to deliver goods for charities.

If we have homes, we can open them up to small groups and bible studies to grow in the Lord with others.

I mean truly there are immeasurable ways that we can be a blessing to someone else based simply on what we already have.

Sadly though, we’re often so fixated on material things, on wordly ideas of riches, that we take for granted the little miracles that happen every moment of every day – our breathing, our thinking, our walking, our talking.

And not only do we take them for granted, we undervalue them – overlooking them instead in pursuit of worldly measures of blessings and favor.

Now don’t feel bad, I’m talking to myself here as well.

I’m guilty, too.

But you know what I realized?  This revelation reveals a new context for an oft-quoted bible verse:

Philippians 4:10-13 says this:

10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,[c] who gives me strength.

 

Now while you and I know that this is the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church of Philippi, what the Lord revealed to me is that this passage could also be a reminder to not just be content with what we have, but to be content with what we can do with what we have.

We have got to stop comparing ourselves to one another and the world – using those skewed observations to define our standards for success.

We’ve got to remember that being able to do all things through Christ isn’t just what we tell ourselves when we want to avoid cussing someone out or overcoming some fear.

No, doing all things through Christ also applies to being able to bless others as God leads us because the fact of the matter is that when God gives us vision to bless others, He’ll always also give us the provision to make it happen.

So be content with the $3 you use to buy someone a meal.

Be content with the little bit of gas you spare to take the elderly to their doctor appointment.

Be content with the time you donate at the local charity.

Realize your blessings, and thank God that you’re empowered to give back at all!

My prayer for you and I today is that we’ll take stock of our wealth, of all that we have that could be used to bless others, and that we then seek God in how to use those resources.

And, if you’re bummed that you didn’t win the Powerball, or still feel like you’d like to win something, then let me remind you that you’ve already won the greatest prize there is: eternal life through Christ.

How?

Because Jesus gave all He had – his life, which some might view as little – and He gave it on our behalf.

What greater example do we need to use every bit of our lives to be a blessing to someone else?

Devotional: Keepin’ it 100

Look, I’m just going to go ahead and call this what it is: we are a bunch of frauds y’all.

We walk around here, doing our best to look pulled together, pieced together, holding it together.

We put on a good front for others.

We say the right things, pray the right things.

We’re always calling on the name of the Lord, speaking in tongues, naming and claiming it.

 

I think my parent’s generation called it putting on airs.  And my generation now calls it faking, frontin’, or not keeping it 100.

In every case, this is when keeping it real goes wrong.

And no matter what we call it, we ought just stop with the games and be real.

 

If we’re really honest with each other (and ourselves!), each one of us is only  one bad phone call, one bad email or text from falling apart from at the seams.

Literally we’re one paycheck from ruin.

One bad break-up from thinking about ending it all.

We’re just one more thing away…

I tell you this not so you are fearful, but so we’re honest with ourselves and one another.

Because the reality is that all that we have and all that we are has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with God.

 

Look at 1 Corinthians 15:10:

New Living Translation (NLT)

10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.

And if that doesn’t convince you, listen to this…

Romans 12:3:

New Living Translation (NLT)

3 Because of the privilege and authority[a] God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

2 Corinthians 3:5:

New Living Translation (NLT)

5 It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.

 

The reality is that so many of us are trying to walk around living our lives “like it’s golden,” that we fall woefully short of living our lives like they are God’s: His vessels, His tools, His walking resume of His power, mercy and miracles.

Yeah, you could walk around trying to project the image of having it all, doing it all, and being all that.  But that’s like trying to look like you’re the man/woman while driving someone else’s car.

It doesn’t work.

More than it not working, you do a few very harmful things when you fake it like this:

1. You rob God of His glory.  How can others come to know and praise God for His power, mercy, grace, miracles and favor in YOUR life if you never allow yourself to be honest about what He’s done for you?

2. You rob others of a chance to see and know God.  For the same reasons above, how can you minister to someone – say that God will bring them out – if you don’t allow your life to support your testimony that it’s possible?  God uses each of our lives as an illustration of who He is, what He’s capable of, and how much He loves all of us.  If you aren’t transparent with SOMEONE, or allowing yourself to be held accountable by SOMEONE, you aren’t helping ANYONE.

3. You rob yourself of reality.  Don’t let the enemy convince you that you’ve got it going on because you pulled yourself up from your bootstraps.  No, you may look like you’re all that, but if you do, it’s because God ordained it, allows it, and is using it for His glory, His kingdom and His will.

Truly get this in your spirit: it ain’t about you, boo!

So, the next move is up to you.

You can keep killing yourself from the inside out with stress, worry, fatigue just trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Or you can do less “living life like it’s golden,” and more living Godly.