Purposeful Faith

Category - hope

The Power of Christ

The news tells us we’re powerless.

“Cover your face, or else… ”
“We just don’t know when we will all be okay…”
“There is no telling how many people will die…”

The endless discussion is enough to make even the most faithful Christian weary, tired or uncertain. Many of us have taken down our defenses. Now, it seems we are prey.

We feel powerless.

Yet, we are not powerless. Christ has not left us powerless, but power-full.

“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 1:19-20)

Can you even imagine? The same power that raised Christ from the dead AND seated him in the place of honor — is for us!!!

This is not theory or hearsay; this is truth.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim. 1:7)

We have a spirit of power.

Power to turn off the TV.
Power to pray.
Power to love.
Power to say I don’t agree with what I am hearing.
Power to use wisdom in accordance with peace.
Power to rise above the mayhem and into God’s rest.
Power to cast what is bothering us unto God.
Power to engage with God’s Word.
Power to have great faith.
Power to see God’s great moves in action.
Power to bless and heal others, through Christ’s love.

We are not powerless — like the enemy wants us to feel — we are power-full!

The difference between the two is often the difference between mental health and deterioration.

Prayer: Father God, I thank you that you have not left me powerless. You have not deserted me. You have not left me behind. I am not without a friend. Jesus is my friend. You are my Father. I have family. I am loved. It is well with my soul. It is well in my world. You have given me power, through Christ, to effect godly change in this world. And, I will do so! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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I Have Kept the Faith

kept the faith

I want this to be said of me…

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7)

I want to “keep the faith!” What about you?

To keep something is to hold it. It is to hold it as dear, hold it close and hold it far from harm. It is to keep using it, practicing it, and leaning on it.

Are you “keeping” faith?

Keeping faith is very practical.  It is asking God to keep you and to increase your faith. It is worshipping, praising, and reading God’s Word.  It is to pray and listen.

Do you feel full of faith? Are you believing that God is the God of the impossible or just the mundane happenings in your life? Do you believe God will show up in your day or are you just trying to make it through? Do you expect God to hear and answer prayers or are you just lobbing up words because you are supposed to?

Faith believes in the exceedingly abundantly more of God; it sees God show up. It trusts even when it cannot see, even when the promise feels far. It hopes, again and again.

I think I lost hope for a while. I started to give up. If you have given up — it is a sign you have lost hope. If you are in this place, it is okay. God is faithful to restore and renew. Just give him your disappointment, your pain, your history, your trauma, your offenses and let him bring you back to new life again. Let Him restore your faith.

Prayer: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) May your faith be so great that it acts out with extreme love. And, may your King Jesus, be glorified. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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You Won’t Get it Right All The Time!

You won’t get it right, all the time.

Last Thursday, as the blog post I wrote about “patience” hit your inbox, let me tell you — my patience was running thin. Here I was telling you why you should be patient, yet, I was snapping at my kids…

What I thought I had it figured out when I wrote the post on Tuesday, was an issue again on Thursday!

The fact of the matter is — we don’t get it right, all the time.

Some of us need to hear this loud and clear today: you won’t get it right all the time. You’ll yell when you meant to be sweet. You’ll sweat when you should have stayed cool. You’ll be anxious when you determined to have peace. You’ll doubt when you determined to believe.

You’ll say to yourself, “Why can’t I do better? Be better? Act better?”

You may put your head down, in defeat. Yet, I imagine, God lifts it up again, whispering in your ear, “Child, I still love you. Even though…  Always…”

Let that relief sink in…  You see, where we are human; God is grace. Where we feel “fed up and ready to head out”; God still wants us. Where we are moody; God is constant.

Oh, how I celebrate this! He wants me, He wants me, He wants me. Even during all my — there I go again… why can’t I… I only wish…moments. He wants you too. It is His love that changes us. His love lifts us out of our pit of condemnation and sets us on a path of transformation, so we don’t do that thing we hate that we do.

Rest under His ever-flowing grace.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

It is not by your work that you change — lest you boast.

Little-by-little, step-by-step, it is God who carries us up and out of our old pit to new actions and reactions.  He gets the credit. He owns the work. We meet Him as he prompts our new steps, sure, but he ultimately transforms and conforms us to His image, not to a pattern of repeat-wrongs.

Acceleration comes, in this process, by receiving grace. Otherwise, you strive and then seek to take credit for His glory. Or, you start comparing your self-righteousness against the next girls.

No. Grace is a gift and, through it, all glory belongs to the Lord.

Do you see the beauty here?

There is rest available to you. Accept His grace. Open your hands. Allow God to change you, renew you, free you, form you and fashion you. Obey Him as He leads. You are His masterpiece and His possession. He cares for you.

The Master is at work. Rather than putting your eyes on what you do wrong, confess, and put your eyes back again on Him. He will shape you. Entrust yourself into His hands. And, He will do it.

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The Art of Patience

We honked. Actually, we didn’t honk, but I really wanted to… The woman ahead of us was — the. slowest. drive-thru. orderer. ever!!!

Add this to the fact that we had hungry kids in the back of the car, and a near brush with a police officer who was still behind us, and people in gloves and masks all around us…and I felt nervous. C’mon lady. Move it.

Is she ever going to go? What is wrong with this person?!

I looked in the rearview mirror and then looked straight ahead trying to see what the issue was. I leaned forward looking for an escape. Tension rose in my chest.

When we finally reached the Chick-Fil-A attendant, she said, “I am going to switch to the passenger side of your car for your order. The woman ahead of you was deaf so I got closer so I could hear her.”

She was — what?! Deaf.

In my impatience, I cursed a woman most in need of — patience. I felt horrible. She was doing a great job “getting out” and here I was critiquing her.

You know, we never know what it is to walk in another’s shoes. We never know the history of someone else’s hurt. We never know all their physical limitations. The details of their day. Why they delay or act wishy-washy or make us wait.

But, God knows… He knows their quirks as much as He knows ours.

In retrospect, I wish I extended patience, instead of getting — pushy. I wish I would have been patient.

Patience is never wrong. Even if it takes time. Even if it slows us down. Even if we listen longer. Even if we have to talk more. Even if we have to get out of our own mind and into someone else’s. Even we delay our mouth or our progress…

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:2)

Patience is love. It quiets discontent. It softens its response. It lets go of its own personal agenda. It loves by the Spirit. It discerns how to go. It makes space for others’ needs. It waits with a smile on its face. It pauses with the goal of lifting the other person up. It dismisses gripes.

It is kinds to oneself. It extends grace.  It remembers how patient and kind God has been — to us — so it can really love others.4

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Under God’s Cover

This morning my 6-year old daughter wondered if there was a tornado coming. Out of fun, I checked the weather. Oddly enough, she was right. There was a tornado warning for our area. For the next hour, we should: beware.

Laying on the bed, while trying to calm her fears, I said, “Do you know what I would do, Madison, if a tornado came this way?”

“What, Mommy?”

“I’d throw my body over you, like this…” I then, laid right over her, acting like a mammoth overhead-covering so she wouldn’t get hit by the imagined fray and swirling winds.

At that second this verse popped in my head…

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge…” (Ps. 91:4)

God does what my instinct as a parent has me do….He covers.

God covers us to shield us from the worst, coming at us. Jesus proves this. His very own skin was damaged to defend us from the oncoming ravages of sin and death. Jesus, thrown up on the cross, covered our every mistake with His body as He took our pain on.

God not only protects, but He covers.

With this, let me ask you a question: If God sent His very own son to protect you this bloody way, how much more will He protect you today?

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8)

He cares to protect you. He wants to keep you.

Yes, the winds of fear surround us. But, rest is available right here — in the midst of this — under the cover of His love.  Will we enter in? God will never force us, but He will always welcome us. How? How do we this?

We:

  • Remember the cross when we get weary or doubt-filled.
  • Believe that He will protect and keep us.
  • Remind our heart of specific instances of His past-faithfulness in our lives.
  • Give Him all worry or fear. Repent.
  • Thank Him for His care and choose to dwell our mind on it.
  • Entrust our wellbeing into His hands, allowing Him to be our shield.

“He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” (Prov. 30:5)

To those who choose to take refuge — they will rest under His cover. With this, don’t look left or right to size-up what is happening with other people. Don’t get sucked into the Evening News. Don’t get pulled into fear because someone said that cats or dogs are carriers. No. Keep your eyes on Jesus; let Him cover you with His perfect peace.

Prayer: Father God, I give you my fear, my worry, my stress, and my anxiety. I don’t want to be covered by things that keep my heart nervous and tense. I don’t want to be covered by a cloud of gloom and doom anymore. I choose to move out from under these things so I can rest, under your cover. Will you forgive me for carrying all this? You are the Prince of Peace. I choose to follow you in all things, in all ways. Pour out your grace on me so I may walk near you, all my day. You are my only and my best “cover”. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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Easter Resurrection Power

“You aren’t listening.”
“I don’t feel loved.”
“I’m alone.”

Friends, while I hate to admit it — this week has been hard. The flesh-side of me wishes I could blame it on my husband, but I can’t. It takes two to tango.  I’ve accused him within my mind. I’ve raised my voice in the house. I’ve changed the atmosphere from peaceful to stressful. I’ve taken it out on the kids. I feel bad about all this…

I wonder if things might be hard at home for you too? We are living in a fishbowl, after all. Right on top of those we love, 24/7. Unable to get time alone, like before. It is a condition ripe for conflict.

Yesterday, I took a walk. One house along the path was lined with beautiful blooming flowers.  I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s a picture of grace. In the midst of virus mayhem is grace-filled beauty. Spring has no mind for the madness.”

Neither does Jesus’ resurrection have a mind for madness. It is the exact opposite of mayhem. Whereas we may argue, panic, or worry, the resurrection of Jesus is righteousness, peace and joy. For, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Just like those flowers pushed out of the dark ground, to find the bright of day — Jesus, through the resurrection, pushes out darkness to bring new light — by demolishing sin, denying the power of death, and shaming the powers of darkness…

Jesus always brings light to the darkness. He does so, even today. Even, here, in quarantine.

With this, I can’t help but think, there is a boundless nature to what Jesus can do.  Even in this time of quarantine, marriages can be healed, hope restored, depression removed, habits renewed, mindsets rewritten, finances helped. Everything is possible through Christ. Think BIG and reach towards Him in BIG ways.

Forget what the world says. The triumphant reign of Jesus is amongst us. The Spirit is in us. The Prince of Peace is present. The King of Glory is in full of glory.  Jesus has risen — and is rising up new life in the here and now.

Oh, how we praise you, Jesus! Oh, how we love you! Oh, how we need you! Oh, how we rely on you! Oh, how we surrender to you! Oh, how you are worthy! Oh, how you are everything, Jesus. We want to give you all the worship, this Easter!

Friends, can you see it? We cannot be in the darkness when we are: are in the light. We now stand in the light of an empty tomb, with the stone-rolled back and a risen King over us and — ruling!!!

“For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” (Col. 1:13-14)

The transfer already happened. We get eternity forever! Oh, the riches of that. And, thanks to the Lamb of God, the resurrection-life power of Jesus is moving in our homes. Jesus is ever-working, ever-healing and ever-transforming us. Look for him this season. Talk to Him too.

Whatever appears dead in a tomb in your life, is not. Jesus conquered the grave.

Friend, if you feel depressed, if you feel misunderstood, if you feel anxious, if you feel worried, if you feel shameful, if you feel disappointed, if you feel bad, if you feel ruined….I pray you see: new life. Starting today.

Just like those flowers busted out of darkness, in the midst of madness, Jesus can bust through any darkness or madness in your life — to bring beauty.

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Walking in the Blessing of Today

blessing

Today cannot be a time of blessing, can it? After all, we are social distancing, staying 6-feet away and looking at others like walking-viruses, ready to attack.

God, what do you have for me, here, in this weird place? This is an important question to ask.

I believe there are blessings available for those who ask. A blessing, not a cursing — for those with eyes to see. A bounty, not a backbreaking burden — for those at home.

Is that you? Or, do you feel it is unbiblical to be blessed? To seek a blessing?

You know, my friends and family…

for a long time, I could not receive a blessing. Nor, would I ask God for one. It felt self-indulgent to say, “Lord, will you bless me?” It felt unbiblical to say, “God, I want your blessings.” There are so many people who need so much more than I do. Who am I to ask. I should be a servant, not a seeker for myself…

Yet, a Psalm, written by David, a man after God’s own heart — set me straight. Within it David says:

With all my heart I want your blessings.” Ps. 119:58

If David wanted a blessing, and God inspired these very words in His Word, who am I to disagree? I can ask for a blessing, with my whole heart, without shame!

“God, I want your blessings. With all my heart, I want your blessings. In a time of Coronavirus I want your blessings!”

The fact of the matter is — I need God’s blessings — His unmerited favor, right now, in my time of trouble, more than ever. Anything less than me needing God’s blessing is likely pride in-action.

To think I can do it without God’s help and generous giving is probably self-work or pious self-proving.

Thanks to God’s wisdom on this, during this season, I have received His blessing. This is why this time of “social distancing” has become a different time. Rather than “social distancing”, it is a time of “family gathering”. I have gotten closer to my kids and husband. I have laughed more. I have played more. I have gotten to know fun without big price tags.

I am blessed! What is simple has trumped what is complex and the peace of the Lord is here — in my house.

Because of this, I give him thanks. All glory to Him; I am blessed.

Might you ask God for a risky thing: to be blessed today…?

Prayer: Father God? I ask you for more, today. More blessings! More of you! More of what you have for me! I ask without shame! I ask expecting to receive. I ask ready to give all thanks and glory back to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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God’s Divine Protection

peace

I was amazed. My daughter didn’t fall once; she fell two times, nearly unscathed. In both instances, she rounded a turn on her bike and skidded out. Her wheels flipped over and her body hit the ground, with force. Tears welled up in her eyes.

She had been riding fast. Her helmet flew off her head. But, when I asked her where she was hurt, she didn’t know. There was only but the smallest scrape on her. She escaped, nearly untouched…

“For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.” (Ps. 27:5)

For in the day of trouble, in the hour of trouble, in the moment of trouble…God is here. Emanuel. God with us.

“God with us” sends His angels to guard us. His power to keep us.  His wisdom to guide us. He is over all and in all.

We don’t know every detail of how He protects us. Or, why He doesn’t protect others.  We don’t fear what has come upon other men. We don’t fear the plague that may befall us. Don’t get entrapped with another man’s story. God deals with each of us as He chooses.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” (Prov. 29:25)

Keep your eyes on your own lane. Keep your attention on your own family. Keep your words headed up to heaven. Trust God’s provision and protection to fall down on you. He has you covered. Choose to stay under the protection of his wing and not to wander elsewhere.

Prayer: Father, thank you that you are above all. You are over all. You are ruling all. We declare you as Lord over everything we face and see. We are not wavered by the news, by people or by fear. We stand under the shadow of your wing. We choose to place ourselves under your loving-care and put ourselves under your protection. You have us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

You are a blessing, brothers and sisters in Christ. I love you, beyond measure. My hope is that I can bring much of His treasure, back to you… XOXO!

 

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A Peace-Bringing Psalm

My son kept asking, “Mom, am I going be okay? How many people are dying? Will Coronavirus get us?” When he asked, his eyes darted left and right and his hands fidgeted with jerk-like motions.

I tried to address every question, but head-knowledge hardly appeases a heart. He needed more… More than a know-it-all momma, he needed a heart-assuring Papa. Papa God.

Fortunately, my little 8-year old found his way to Psalm 91. After reading it, a sense of calm fell over him and, he said, “I am going to memorize this whole thing.” He did. Then, he prayed it over himself and the virus. Quite suddenly, peace, power, and strength returned to him. He was all of a sudden ready to battle, instead of walking like a defeated-foe.

In fact, my son, Michael, was so excited about Psalm 91 he wanted to share his learning with everyone. He did a video on Facebook about Psalm 91.  Don’t miss it! I know it will bless you. May it encourage you too!

Beyond this, I am including Psalm 91 here today. I believe it will bring sudden peace, power, and strength as you read it aloud, as you accept it in your heart and as you pray it over yourself. Don’t miss this chance. Join hands with the Prince of Peace to receive his peace. Reach out to him and you’ll find him.

God’s power is enough to keep and protect you. You are not alone. God is with you, my dear friend.

You have this! I believe in you. I am praying for you… I love you.

Psalm 91 (NLT)

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

Be blessed my friends. I love you. I am here for you.

Prayer: Father, may each of us, children, know how much you love, protect and keep us. May we rest in your love. May we run to your shelter. May we trust you to save us. We love you, Jesus. Amen.

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A Brighter Side for Today

“It could always be worse.” That’s what she said to me, as I was near-tears.

Everything felt so hard around me. Circumstances were beyond my control. I had no idea how to handle my own emotions. No matter which way I thought of things, everything was unfixable. Worst of all, I had no way to help the man I loved.

It could always be worse.

Now, I’ll admit to you all today, if she had spoken these words without credibility . . . if she didn’t know hard times . . . if I thought these words were flippant . . . if she wasn’t in the midst of her own trial . . . if she was just trying to “fix me”. . . I might have written her words off.

But, she was in the midst of a horrible trial. She did say these words authentically. And, there was heart and sincerity in the tone of her voice. . .

. . . so I took her words to heart.

It could be worse.
My kids could be in the hospital.
My bed could be on the streets.
My hope could be completely gone. 

It could be worse. And, for this —  I have something to be thankful for.

I internally mutter a “thank you, God.” And, somehow I start feeling better. More hopeful. More life-filled. More trusting that He will help me. More reflective of how God has helped me in the past.

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thess. 5:18 KJV)

What can you give thanks for today?  God’s will is that you say, “Thank you, God.” His heart is to lift you up again.

Prayer:
God, there are hurts around me. There is pain near me. There is hope that feels lost. I need you. I thank you that you are always with me. You will never forsake me. You have a good plan. Forgive me for becoming so issue-focused, I have missed giving thanks to you. I ask you to help me see the good, the hope-filled and the little things I can give thanks for. Help me to lift my head, in order to lock eyes — with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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