Purposeful Faith

Tag - hope

Overcome The Real Enemy of Worry

Overcome the Enemy of Worry

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“Mommy, can you just be with me.”

The look in his eyes, says it all – he is worried and scared about the perceived “real enemy” on TV.

Fear and worry fills his face, but, my son seems to know that having mommy next to him makes all the difference.

He knows that with the presence of a parent, he is safer.
That the TV is not real and that his mommy is.
That nothing can come against when is mommy is there.

I love both his faith in me and his desire to draw near to me in this moment.

But, I wonder am I this way when I come face-to-face with worries?

Do I choose to sit with the enemy and dwell on his tactics
or do I choose to sit with my Father and dwell on his goodness?

Do I choose to let God protect me, guard me and speak truth into my soul
or I do I choose to let the show and all it’s details play on and on and on? 

Do I choose to sit with the fear-consuming, worry-ravaging, all-powerful Father 
or do I choose a screen that replays my worst fears,
my worst case scenarios and my enemy’s worst threats?

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Ps. 16:8)

I keep my eyes on the Lord!  I. WILL. NOT. BE. SHAKEN.

Eyes on God can’t have eyes on problems.
Eyes beholding nature’s beauty can’t be beholding life’s injustices.
Eyes beholding God’s love can’t be beholding the world’s hate.
Eyes beholding God’s truth in a still moment, can’t be running circles in fear.

When we have our eyes set on God’s perfect love, and we receive it in a moment of close embrace, fear is cast out. (1 Jo. 4:18).

The presence of God that sits with us when we fear, gives us a new perspective on what looms near.  His presence confirms to our soul – we are his.

By faith he (Moses) left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. (Heb. 11:27)

Moses seemed to know God is “Emmanuel” – meaning, “God with us”.  He seemed to know, when God is with us, nothing can come against us.

When we dwell on God’s nearness, worry fades and strength pervades.

Moses knew he could move forward with “God with him”; He could persevere verses cower in fear.

He saw the one who is right there.
Always present.
Always helping.
Always leading.
Always loving.
Always protecting.
Always giving.

Do we see “God with us” in our problems? Do we allow his real and powerful presence to cast aside all our worries?

Because when we pull near, he is there and there is no room left for fear. His love pulls up and fills us up – in a real and powerful way. Then, worry has to leave.

Suddenly, we overcome the face of fear through the power of faith.
We know he is closer than any looming disaster and more powerful than they enemy.
We see him with us as we go through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4).
We remain in God – and he remains with us.  (John 15:4-5)

Worry and worship aren’t friends. When one comes, the other leaves. Stillness and a racing mind don’t hold hands either. One runs away from the other.

When we choose “God with us”, we seemingly find our way of escape, our protector, our strength, our hope, our defense. We can trust he is working all things out for his purposes, which are always good.

Enemies can try to come against, but when God is with us, we send their bags packing, because God wins every time.

Dear friend, I know what it is like to worry. I know the pain, I know the agony and I know the despair, but today, God is calling you to something greater. God is calling you to get real, honest and transparent; he is calling you to bask in his presence.

Will you call him near as the screen of life portrays images that invoke fear?  He offers the ultimate protection.

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Today, I linkup with #LiveFreeThursday and Five Minute Friday.

Kicking Shame to the Curb

Kicking Shame to the Curb

I want to be closer to God, don’t you?

Sometimes, I want to grab all that he is so I can be all that I am. I want to just get over me, be done with my ways, and move straight into his.

But then, shame shows up.

Shame comes to tell me that I am bad.
Unworthy.
Unloved.
Worthless.
Without a plan.
An orphan of God.
Distanced from love.
Unheard.
Unvalued.
Unbelievable in my actions.
(Fill in the blank)

Shame takes us by our hair, drags us to the ground and then beats us up, until all we can see is defeat. It’s the ultimate sucker punch from the devil.

If he can succeed at shaming he can succeed at defaming God.
If he can succeed at shaming, he knows we’ll stop proclaiming.
If he can succeed at shaming, he can make sure we aren’t flaming for Jesus.

I have become more and more aware of this cycle – and I am fighting back, my friend, because life is too short to live laying on the ground with bruises. You can’t get up and serve God when you are always injured.

Because the Sovereign LORD helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame. (Is. 50:7)

Fighting back shame means 3 things:

1. We allow the Sovereign Lord to help us.
2. We hold fast to the truth that Christ makes us without all shame, without any blemish – essentially “unbruisable” in him. He paid the price to absorb all shame as he took his last breath on the cross.
3. We set our faces like flint.

What? What does it mean to set a face like flint?

flint
noun

  • a piece of flint used with steel to produce an igniting spark, e.g., in a flintlock gun, or (in modern use) a piece of an alloy used similarly, especially in a cigarette lighter.
  •  a hard type of rock that produces a small piece of burning material (called a spark) when it is hit by steel  – Google Dictionary

We, like a rock, keep our face motionless in the face of impending shame. As the devil leans back to deliver his punch of shame, we stay hardened, fearless and impenetrable.  We don’t make it easy for him to hit us, because hitting a rock is never comfortable. It’s not normally something you set out to fight.

And, did you catch the result?  The result is staggering, my friend. Oh, how I love it – a spark is produced.

A spark of courage.
A spark of hope.
A spark of light.
A spark in our heart.
A spark that brightens the situation.
A spark that paves our way.
A spark of renewal.

This spark does not hold us back from the plan of God, but lights the way for it. This spark lights God’s ways in our heart. It sets us on fire for him.

It sets God’s plans in our hearts, not our insecurities in where we walk.

Today, we walk shameless. Jesus took every last bruise on our behalf, so we don’t have to walk in shame. Now, we walk with the light, the spark, of Christ Jesus that leads us in complete holiness, complete surrender and complete security in him.

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Today I am joining Suzie Eller for her fabulous #livefreeThursday, Susan B. Mead for #DancewithJesus and the Five Minute Friday linkup.

Surviving the Worst Storms of Life

Surviving the Worst Storms of Life

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God leads.
I follow.

God sets a destination before me.
I trust in him to bring me there.

God goes silent.
I start to panic.

I question his plan,
doubt his cause,
and fear his promptings.

I wonder, where did my Lord go?

Have you ever been in these shoes?
Sure of where you are going – only to question, shortly thereafter, if God has fallen asleep on you?

You are not alone.

Jesus’ closest friends felt exactly how you felt.

You see they had a destination. Jesus said to the disciples, after a time of deep and meaningful life instruction, “Let us go across to the other side (of the sea).” (Mk. 4:35)

They knew where they were headed; they had a destination and Jesus was going to take them there.

But plans were changed as a storm threatened their boat.
Despite their effort to move, to go and to make progress something stood against.
It not only seemed their journey a lost cause, but they probably felt that way too.

How often are we like the disciples?

We scream out in our storms, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” (Mt. 8:25)
“Where are you Lord? I am drowning here.”
“Lord, didn’t you tell me – to go?”

And, sometimes he answers.
And, other times – it seems – he doesn’t.

When he doesn’t, we wonder:

1. What did I do wrong?
2. How did I go wrong?
3. What is Jesus doing wrong?

We almost want to grab him and say, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’  (Mk. 4:38)

We are here Lord, we are in this rocky, turbulent boat called life, Lord!  Do you see us? Do you care? Where are you? How come you are not directing us to our destination like you planned?

We try to shake him.
We try to wake him.
We know we only need his touch – because it will do so much.

So, we bawl and we call.
And, he sees our squall.
Not to let us fall. He comes to our rescue as our all-in-all.

But, only then do his words brush up against our heart saying, “Dear one, why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mk. 4:40). Or, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ (Mt. 8:26)

And, in this moment, we realize, he was with us the whole time.
We already had the touch that we desired so much.
But, we missed his saving power.
We lost sight of him.

What if we actually believed -through the storm, rather than fearing – in the storm? 
What sort of miracle would Jesus do? 
What would we behold?

A deep sense that “we missed it” floods over us.

Because, while we thought he was sleeping and dreaming of things other than us, he was always planning to bring us through – according to his ways.

He was always in our turbulent boat, right there next to us.

We saw the storm raging, and felt alone, but he was right there – in the midst of it – not leaving our side.

While we feared waters would cover us and we would never reach the promised land, the Lord always had a hand of protection over us – even though we couldn’t see it.

Jesus calls us to grab hold of faith in storms that appear to prevent us from charting the course he set before us.

Faith that he won’t leave us.
That he is with us.
That he can be silent and working at the same time.
That he has a plan despite the circumstances around us.
That he is greater than our best efforts to calm any storm.
That prayer and joy and an eager expectancy of his rescue is the only way to go.
That he is greater than the nature of the world that surrounds us.

Jesus didn’t fall asleep on the cross. He knew where he was going.
He never lost his touch.
He is always touching.
He has already conquered all storms, all sin and all sadness.
He knows our destination and his destination for us. Nothing will come against.
Jesus always saves.

I wonder if the disciples wondered if Jesus had fallen asleep – and forgotten them – for 3 days after his death?

Or, did they remember this little boat in a big sea, that tossed like leaf in a windstorm, that threatened their destination and that made them fear?  Did they remember that Jesus was always near? That despite how things seemed, the Lord has a greater dream for them.

I wonder.

Perhaps, when the Lord greeted them this time, in heaven, he looked at them and said, “You of great faith, oh, how you have pleased me!”

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I am delighted to be joining Suzie Eller for #LiveFreeThursday!

What Holds You Back From Jesus?

What Holds You Back From Jesus

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What holds you back?
What hinders you?
What prevents you from going all-in, crazy wild for Jesus?

Is it others?
Your schedule?
Your fears?
Your money?
Your family?

What is it?

When I look at my life, I see a whole lot of blessings, but I also see a whole lot of comfort. Comfort that wraps me warm and snuggly. So warm, that sometimes I don’t want to look beyond my TV – or even the walls of my house.

Comfort that second-guesses spending time with others.
Comfort that makes it difficult to give and to let go.
Comfort that doesn’t allow me to see all that God has for me.
Comfort that keeps me stuck.

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36)

Are we gaining the world or are we gaining God?

Because a life stuck in this world is a life stuck in futility.
And a life stuck in futility, is a life without utility.
To live without utility, gives us no ability to glorify God’s nobility.

Complacency, comfort and carelessness about our condition become our greatest inhibition.

But, God is calling us. Wooing us. Pleading that we come.

Do you hear Him?
He is waiting.
Ready.
Hopeful.
He has more for us than the good “American Life”.

He will blow our socks off.
Knock us down with purpose.
Stagger us with joy.
If we let him.

Or, we can continue living in the status-quo, as we always have – content.

But are we really content?
Satisfied?
Is enough ever enough?
The house?
The family?
The money?

Perhaps God is saying…”Accepting good, is missing amazing.”

When we exchange good things for our great God, we miss the immense blessings he has prepared for us.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10)

It’s easy to walk by stagnant faith, rehearsed truths and clichéd lines, but if we want to see crazy exciting acts of God, we have to step out of “safety” and into “risky”.

“Risky” that takes time to hear God’s call.
“Risky” that prays for equipping.
“Risky” that sacrifices all to accomplish his purposes.
“Risky” that doesn’t see the way, but walks by faith.
“Risky” that doesn’t stop, that keeps going, that presses on until the work is completed.
“Risky” that avoids demanding approval or affirmation, but instead trusts in eternal rewards.

Why aren’t I risky like this?  When I take a deep look, I see, what holds me back – is me, myself and I. I am afraid. I am afraid to go to the place where I lose all control. I am afraid to see where he will take me. I am afraid.

Will it really be good?
Will he really be there for me?
Will I be good enough for Him?

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Heb. 11:1)

When we can’t see, we walk by real faith, life changing faith and powerful faith.

We can walk this way, because he has proven his faithfulness time and time again.

He has helped us and he will help us.
He has guided us and he will guide us.
He has shown up and he will show up.

Remember his faithfulness – in the past – to follow his call – today.

We are called “followers of Jesus”, so let’s do the following part.  Let’s cast aside all that holds us back and go “risky” with Jesus. It’s so worth it! He will equip us. He will help us. We can do this.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Heb. 12:1)

What holds you back from Jesus?

My will or Thy will?

My wil or thy will

Post by: Christy Mobley

1 Samuel 8:6, “But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all they say to you,  for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.'”

The Israelites were always whining and complaining wanting their own way. Their own will. They were never satisfied. They didn’t trust God to do what was best for them. They always wanted something else.  I’m sorry to say I can relate.  For most of my life I’ve been no different. Oh, I would have told you I trusted God, but still, I always thought I knew what was best.  I knew a better ending to the story. My story.

About 15 years ago (in my guesstimation) my pastor sent out an email to the members of our church. I don’t remember the exact purpose of the email but I do remember reading a few lines on prayer and God’s will that stuck in my craw. Mostly because at the time the words bewildered me.  Those words read something like this:

If you want healing, pray for God’s will to be done.

If you want safety, pray for God’s will to be done.

If you need a job, pray for God’s will to be done.

If you need financial help, pray for God’s will to be done.

If you are looking for peace, pray for God’s will to be done.

I recall thinking,  what about my will? What if God’s will and my will aren’t the same? What if His ending doesn’t look like mine? Doesn’t God care about what I want? 

It wasn’t long after, I decided my husband was bored with his job. (Notice, I said I decided.)  I felt he needed something more challenging, a promotion perhaps. And I circled it in prayer.  A lot of prayer.  I thought I knew what was best for him, for us. Never mind what God thought.  Not once did I pray honestly about my feelings and my struggles, or what was in my heart. Nope, instead I forged on, telling God my agenda, and asking Him to oblige with an answer.

And He did.

But it was not the answer I contrived in my mind. Nope, God loves me more than that.

Have you heard the saying, “Be careful what you pray for?”

God answered my selfish prayer.

He gave me what I wanted to show me what I didn’t. 

He gave me my own way to show me how His way is better.

The next  seven years were challenging to say the least.  But God used everything that took place within those seven years to mold me for His purposes. Though God did indeed answer my prayer, the path He led me down would not have been one of my choosing. I can see now that it was necessary and it gave me a clear and personal understanding of Romans 8:28, “God  works everything for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”  Because it was during this trying time God showed me –

A way out of my spiritual desert.

How to be totally honest in prayer.

How to depend on Him and not on myself.

How to be joyful in all circumstances.

How His will is better than mine.

And how He is always faithful.

In the key passage from 1 Samuel, the Israelites weren’t satisfied with God and His way. They wanted human kings like all the other nations. And God gave them their human kings. He gave them what they wanted to show them what they didn’t need.

I believe it is important to lay our hearts open to our Heavenly Father and honestly tell Him our wants and desires. He wants that, but He also wants our surrender. Because at the end of the day He knows what ‘s best.  And today I know that full well.

Jesus gave us the perfect example when he prayed “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….”

Thy will not my will. Amen

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How To Stop Comparing Once and For All: 3 Tips

How to Stop Comparing Once and For all

I recently read a famous author’s article and thought, “I could write a better story than this.”   It’s embarrassing to admit.  My words were spoken through a heart of jealousy.

Comparison, like a teeter-totter, lifted me higher than she was – for a moment.  I felt good. I felt high. I felt powerful.  And then, as fast as I went up, I came crashing down.

As I began my descent, a little voice asked, “If you are so good, why aren’t you like her? How come you aren’t doing what she is doing? Why bother Kelly? You don’t measure up. Quit.” Slam.

The impact of comparing can be shocking.  It often leaves us discouraged as we fall to the ground, feeling disappointed in who we are.  Up and down the teeter-totter goes – feel good, feel bad, feel high, feel low.   What goes up must come down. 

So, how do we gain lasting steady confidence? How do we beat the up-and-down rhythm of comparing? How do we deal with ourselves when we feel less than?  It is time you found out how to stop comparing.

 HOW TO STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS – 3 TIPS: 

1. Anticipate the Lure of Comparing & Preemptively Fight

Thoughts of comparison are like a fly, they often land on us before we realize – and are gone before we can take action.  What are we to do?  We need to fight the lure in advance – before it even lands. We do this by examining our areas of vulnerability.

Examine Yourself:
 Where do I feel less than?
Where do I feel prideful?
What do I feel I am lacking?
How have I failed?
What areas of my life do I normally fall prey to “comparing”?
What are are my greatest dreams? Hopes?
How can I pray for those who are doing better than me?
How can I encourage those who are doing better and less than me?
What can I be thankful for?

“Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the LORD.”  (Lamentations 3:40 NIV).

We are wise to open the door to our vulnerabilities and to welcome thankfulness in our lives.  When equipped this way, we can more easily shut (and lock) the door to the temptation of comparing.

how to stop comparing

2.  Bless & Decompress.  

One of the greatest things we can do to combat comparing is to pray.

When we pray, we find a better way.  When we:

Pray for our weaknesses, we find strength.

For our failures, we find hope.

For our dreams, we find new doors.

For our pride, we find authenticity.

For those in need, we find love.

For those more successful, we find a softened heart.

For those less than, we find charity.

For eyes to see like Christ, we find faith, hope and love.

We pray and God answers us with eternal rewards – lasting, meaningful and transformational rewards.  Prayer changes us. Rather than looking for how much value we get, we start to see how much value we can give.

Instead of seeing our size compared to man, God shows us our size compared to Him. 

 He can – and will – bless many.

He is not an either/or kind of God.  So, we can stop comparing, pray big and dream big for others!

how to stop comparing

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11 NIV)

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:19-21)

3. See Yourself as God Sees You.

“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  1 Sam. 16:7

To think that we will ever be without weakness, without hardships, without areas that need improvement, is not reality.  God created each of us with both strengths and weaknesses.  And, although the world tells us that we need to shape up or ship out, God just wants us to rely on Him in the midst of pain.  He wants us to look at ourselves created in his image.

We are wise to embrace who we are in Christ (click to learn more),

to believe his truths and let them  sink into the depths of our souls.

He created you uniquely and he loves you uniquely.  He wants you to rely on Him.  To trust Him.  To draw near to Him.

He knows what he is doing.  Posture your heart towards him and trust him to manage the rest.  You are a work in progress – and he won’t finish until his masterpiece is finished.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on
to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Phil 1:6)

***BONUS TIP:  Embrace Grace

No one is perfect – not one.  Jesus didn’t die for us to be perfect; he died to extend us grace.   We are growing more and more into the likeness of Christ, but it is a process.  God has you covered – with the blood of Christ.   Rest your deficiencies in the arms of Christ. He desires to hold your pain and work them to accomplish his goal in the most exciting exhilarating ways.

Now that you know how to stop comparing, trust him and let go of the up and down ride of comparing that only serves to leave you wind blown and frustrated.

Now that you have learned how to stop comparing, be sure you don’t miss Part I (The Shocking Truth about Comparing) & Part II (3 Ways Comparing is Bad) of the Comparing Series.

When Love is Blocked

Have you ever tried to reach out to someone but failed? Have you ever tried to help someone, but felt unappreciated? Have you ever tried to do something for God, but it didn’t work?

If so, I totally understand. Many years ago, God brought a young lady into my life, at what seemed the perfect time. During her regular visits to help with my son, I could clearly see she struggled with various life issues. I could clearly see her pain. I could clearly see she had major insecurities. And I could clearly see that I was the one to help her with this. I thought, “God has a plan for me to work on this one”.

Boy was I dead wrong.

I tried and I tried – and I tried some more – to pull her out of her shell. I tried to pour out words of encouragement. I tried to smile all the time. I tried to help her whenever she needed it. I tried to be flexible with work hours. I tried to tell her about God’s love. I tried to be super careful with feedback. I tried to take an interest in her life. I tried to ask her one hundred questions. I tried to offer food. I tried to offer help. I tried to make jokes.

What didn’t I try? I tried it all.

What did I get back? Nothing. Silence. In fact, what I got back seemed to be irritation and annoyance.

I felt so discouraged. I felt devalued. I felt frustrated. I felt angry, both at her and at God. Didn’t God see how much I was doing? Didn’t God know how bad she needed help? Didn’t she see how hard I was trying to be there for her?

This mission was a big FAIL. It failed because I totally missed the point. I am embarrassed to say that I was pursuing another’s heart with completely the wrong motive. It wanted to fix her. This motive left a mess in its wake.

When I felt my love was blocked, I tried a little harder. I gave a little more. I pushed it on her because I didn’t want to be rejected. I was seeking value based on her response. My heart may have been looking to love her at first, but after a couple of rejections set in, I was looking for even more love, admiration and appreciation. This was about “My Mission” not “God’s Mission” and therein lies the problem. The result? I felt rejected and she felt smothered. Not only was she trying to do her job, but she was also trying to satisfy me. We were both frustrated.

When we look to others to fill us and to approve us, we miss God’s plan. We miss his work and his miracle. When we work by our  might it turns into a fight. When we work by his might, it is a delight.

So what are we to do?

We are to pray, to listen and to obey – in his timing.  We are to trust him. We are to do what he calls us to do, not what we feel we need to do in order to garner a “feel good” response. We are to do our part, independent of other’s reactions. Then, the Lord will  approve us as we move forward in his calling.  Our love is not reliant on others.   It is reliant on God’s love for us.   This means, we don’t need to over work or over try. He will give us just the right direction. Our works are for him – and by him.

When we listen, hear and love as he loves, not as we love, we are in his will. He blesses this reliance  with our hearts great desire – acceptance, love and purpose.

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:6)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14)

When we wait, God makes our love great.