Friday, April 18, 2014

Jesus is Enough

"For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  We are hard-pressed on every side yet not crushed, we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed--always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body."  1 Corinthians 4:6-10

The other day I was feeling discouraged.  I was feeling inadequate and ill-equipped and full of fear of failure in regards to some ministry assignments I have coming up in the next couple of weeks. The weight of these thoughts was beating me down.  I cried out to God in the midst of my struggle to tell Him how inadequate I felt and how much I needed Him.

I said, "Lord, you know me.  You know I am broken.  You know I am inadequate.  You know I can't do this."

Very quietly in my spirit, I heard.  "You're right. You can't.  But I can."

Immediately the heaviness left me as I had the revelation that I can't do it and that is ok because I KNOW the One who can.  I am not adequate, but I KNOW the One who is.  I am broken, but I KNOW the One who makes us whole.  Jesus is enough and I don't have to be.  How freeing!!!

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, the excellence of THE POWER may be of God and not of us.

Jesus died for us so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body.  Jesus died to give us everything we need in Him.  He alone is enough!!!

My pastor, Jeremy McGinnis says:   Jesus + nothing = Everything

Jesus is our everything.  He is our all in all.  He triumphed over darkness and over the enemy.  He defeated death and sin on the cross.

If you are feeling inadequate or less-than today, I just want to encourage you that YOU ARE RIGHT, you are... by yourself!  But, WITH JESUS, YOU ARE ENOUGH because HE IS.  YOU ARE ADEQUATE because HE IS.  YOU ARE MADE RIGHTEOUS because of HIM and the price He paid for you.

Happy Good Friday Living Free in Him readers!!  When you see the cross, remember He paid it all, there is nothing left you can or need to pay.  Oh, we praise your name, JESUS!!!  May you be glorified forever!  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Our Rock of Help

Today I leave for Illinois to help minister at the first Deeper Still Retreat in Illinois.

This trip is important to me for many reasons.  I hope to share more on why later.

 In the Deeper Still Prayer Devotion this week, I shared about how Samuel set up a stone in 1 Samuel 7 to remind the Israelites of God's faithfulness.  He called the stone Ebenezer, which means, "the rock of help". Samuel then declared, "Til now the Lord has helped us." (verse 12).

I believe every single word I type (or I wouldn't type it) and this week, I had to live it out for myself. Sometimes we believe the Word of God, but it isn't until we are faced with having to put it into practice that we realize how strong we believe it or not.   I had to decide if the words I wrote were just letters on a page or if I believed them for me as I fought a health battle.  In the devotional I wrote:

"The Lord subdued Israel’s enemies and delivered His people.  We can be assured that the Lord will subdue the enemy and deliver His sons and daughters.  He has been faithful in the past and He will continue to be faithful in the future.  He will do what He has said He will do.  He will fulfill the call and do it, we just need to trust."

Would I believe the Lord would fight for me?  

Would I believe the Lord would subdue the enemy and deliver me? 

Would I believe the Lord would be faithful as He has been in the past?  

I also had to decide if I would believe God over the lies of the enemy.  God had told me I was going to Illinois for this "mission trip" months ago and I know it was His voice and it had been confirmed over and over again.  

Would I believe God or my body?
Would I believe the Word of God that says by Jesus stripes I am healed or my symptoms?  

I decided to believe God.  I believe He is faithful.  He is my Healer.  He is my Redeemer.  He is my Strength.  He is my Everything.  He has overcome every sickness, every disease, and every bondage.  Every force of the enemy is under His feet.  

As I am typing this, it is 15 minutes before we leave.  Until this morning, I had been in bed for 4 days straight with a high fever and bronchitis.  Nothing in the natural made any sense that I should be going on a trip.  As of now, my temperature is normal and my breathing is normal.  God is My Healer.  His will will be accomplished!  He will be glorified!  Praise to our God, our Help, our Defender, our Deliverer!!! 

He is our "rock of help"!  

I hope you go check out the Deeper Still Devotional I write and pray for us this weekend!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

True Love Conquers All {With a Frozen Twist}


The most powerful force there is.   I love Disney movies and princess analogies.  : )

The evil villain places a spell on the princess that can only be broken with... true love's kiss.  The prince comes in to rescue his love by giving her true love's kiss.  She awakens. Evil is defeated.  And true love conquers all.

However, the most recent Disney movie, Frozen, places a new twist on true love breaking a curse, a more accurate depiction of true love.

"Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends."  John 15:13

I don't want to spoil the movie in case you haven't seen it, but in it there is a selfless act of true love that saves the princess.  She lays down her life in love for another.

Where fear had once dominated and controlled, love set the curse free and true love overcame fear.

Love conquered fear and broke the curse.

Jesus defeated fear and every other scheme of the enemy on the cross.  He demonstrated His perfect love for us by laying down His life for us.  His act of true love conquered fear and redeemed us from the curse of the law. (Galations 3:13)

The enemy wants to hold us in bondage to fear. Faith and love work together to conquer fear.  Galations 5:6 says "Faith works through love."

Perfect love casts out fear, and it takes faith to operate in that love.

 "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.
But he who fears has not been made perfect in love."   1 John 5:10 

We have Jesus' conquering kind of love inside of us!  (1 John 4:12)  Fear flees when we choose love.

Rest in His love today, His love abides in you.  Give it away.  Love will drive fear away.

True love conquers all.  


Friday, March 28, 2014

Bowling with the Guardrails Up

Last week, while my kids were on Spring Break, we ventured to the bowling alley.  My 11 year old son, Joe, wanted to bowl with the guardrails up.  However, I wanted to see how he would do with them down. Without the guardrails, he bowled a total score of 16 (or was it 9?).  Any rate, it was far below par (or is that just a golf term?  I know nothing about bowling other than you try to hit the pins and I rarely do that!).

For the second game, I gave in to his request for the guardrails.  Wouldn't you know it?!  He got two strikes right off the bat (wrong sport again-sorry) and he DIDN'T even use the guardrails!  I thought it was so interesting that with the guardrails down, he repeatedly threw the ball in the gutter, but when the guardrails were up, he did not even come close to hitting them!

For the first 6 frames, his ball stayed clear of the guardrails and he had a score of over 60! What was the difference?

The only conclusion I could make was that it was all mental.  Having the guardrails up boosted his confidence.

We also need guardrails in our lives.  The Word of God is our Guardrail.  Without our Guardrail, we end up in the gutter over and over again.  When the guardrails are up and we are in God's Word, we have confidence to move forward with the Lord.  We know He is protecting us and keeping us in the center of His will.  We can know He is there as our shield and ever-present help so we can be victorious rather than roll along the edges of life never reaching our goals (or pins).

Knowing what a confidence booster guardrails are, I may never bowl without the guardrails again!

I am thankful for the Word of God being my Guardrail!

Power Verses and Reflection Question: 

"Our soul waits for the Lord;  He is our help and our shield."  Psalm 33:20   

"For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught."  Proverbs 3:26

1.  How does the Word of God, as a guardrail in your life, give you confidence?

I'd love to hear from you in the comment section!  :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Flower Pot Pens {and Other Hidden Talents}

Five years ago, my daughter, Sarah, made a beautiful craft for me in Mother's Day Out.  It was a flower pot with 2 silk flowers in it.  I love it and have had it on my windowsill in the kitchen for all these years.

Well, the other day I was at the doctor's office and there was a flower pot on the counter.  Inside of it were   flowers that were actually pens.  I thought it was the niftiest idea!  When they weren't being used, the incognito pens could double as flowers in the pot and add a touch of beauty!  Amazing!

I left the office and didn't think much else of these miraculous pens.

A day later I was standing in my kitchen and my flower pot with the silk flowers caught my eye.  Hmmm.  I thought, "I wonder if those flowers are pens."

I walked over to the pot and took out one of the flowers.  They were pens!! All these years I had pens in that flower pot and didn't even know it!  I thought it was just a pretty decoration.  I had no idea of its practical use!  (Please don't judge me)  {Smile}

We are all flower pot pens. We all have talents that are hidden beneath the surface, however, may not realize our full potential and usefulness.

"For we are all His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them"  Ephesian 2:10

When God made you, He made you with a specific plan in mind.  He designed you thoughtfully and purposefully.  Whether you see it or not doesn't matter, it is there, hidden temporarily until you are ready to discover it.

"For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should  come to light."  Mark 4:22

I want to encourage you today to ask the Lord if anything is hidden in you that needs to be brought to light. Ask if there are any hidden talents or gifts that He would like you to discover to reveal your true purpose.

Perhaps God has called you to be a "pen" for Him and write for His glory.

For years I was like that flower pen and didn't even know I could write.  Don't be like me and have a perfectly good pen not fulfilling its writing destiny.  If you are a pen, write!

Whatever is hidden, God will reveal in His timing.  One thing is certain, there are hidden talents in every one of God's flowers.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Being Shelved

Sometimes God speaks to me through Disney movies.

Just recently, He reminded me of Toy Story 2.

In Toy Story 2, Woody's (the cowboy doll) arm gets torn and he is placed up on the top shelf instead of getting to go with his owner, Andy, to cowboy camp.  Woody had been "shelved".  He wondered what his owner was doing.  He wondered why Andy didn't take him to camp.

Didn't Andy love him anymore?  
Didn't Andy want him to go with him?  
Why did Andy leave him seemingly abandoned on the top shelf?
Does he think I am unworthy to play with because I am broken? 

All of these questions possibly filled Woody's mind.  However, the truth was that Andy lovingly left Woody on the shelf because he was in need of repair.  It was because Andy loved Woody that he left him on the shelf until the proper mending could be completed.

God brought this to my mind because there have been seasons in my life where I have felt like God put me on a shelf.  During these seasons, I didn't feel like I was being used by God or going anywhere with my "Owner".  I felt like I was just collecting dust and waiting.  During the times I was "shelved", I wondered what God was doing.

Like Woody, I thought that perhaps I was unworthy to be used by God.  I questioned if God wanted to use me.  I mean, after all, He has plenty of other people He can use for His glory.  Perhaps I was just too broken and too much of a mess to be useful.

None of the above were true.  However, God knew I needed repair.  He knew that if I came down from the shelf too soon that it wouldn't be good for me.  He had some mending He needed to do first.

God does use the broken.  Otherwise, no one would be used by God.  We all are broken vessels held firmly together only by the bonds of His love and grace.  However, sometimes we have to get to a certain place of healing.  God keeps us safely placed in His loving care preparing us for His purpose, mending us stitch by stitch until we are ready.  He doesn't want our arm to fall off!

If you have been feeling like God has put you on a shelf and has forgotten about you, I want to encourage you today.  He knows exactly where you are.  He is waiting.  He is healing.  He is preparing you for His good purpose.  Let Him mend.  Let Him sew.  Let Him perfect everything that concerns you.  He won't keep you on the shelf for long.  He needs you.  Your Owner desperately desires to take you where He is going.  He knows you are broken and He loves you anyway.  You are irreplaceable to Him.  You are His treasure and He will hold you and care for you and never let you go.

Power Verses:

"The Lord will perfect all things concerning me."  Psalm 138:8

"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."  Phil 1:6 

Reflection Questions (I'd love to hear your comments below!) :)  

1.  Do you feel like you have been "shelved"?

2.  Have you ever felt like God put you on a shelf for a season?  Looking back, can you see His purpose in it?

3.  Do you feel too broken to be used by God?  How does this post encourage you today?

Friday, March 21, 2014

So Long Fear...Moving Forward Towards Jericho

This week in the In the Gap Online Bible Studies as we are studying "Kicking Fear to the Curb" we looked at three heroes of faith--David, Joshua, and Jesus.  All three were triumphant in the face of fear.

Joshua stood out for me this past week and he is an excellent model to emulate in our faith over fear walk!  In Joshua 1, God tells Joshua 3 times in the first 9 chapters to be of “good courage”.   Each of the three verses coincides with a reminder from the Lord of what is needed to help his people “be of good courage” to face their fears.   

What the Israelites did to prepare their hearts for belief is an example we can follow to prepare our own hearts to believe God and conquer fear. Below are the verses God spoke to Joshua and how God spoke to my heart regarding how to apply this to my life. 

“Be strong and of good courage for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. “  Joshua 1:6

1.       Remember God’s promises.   God said He swore to their fathers to give them the land.  Anytime God makes a promise, I can expect Him to deliver on that promise.  I do not need to be afraid.  He will do what He said He will do. 

      Before Joshua led the Israelites to Jericho, he reminded them of God’s promise.  “The Lord your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land.”(Joshua 1:13)  I  must also remember and remind myself of God's Word when I am afraid and speak His Word to overcome my fear. 

“ Be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses, My servant, commanded you; do not turn form it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:7

2.       Obey His commands.  Living pure and holy lives is important in overcoming fear and walking in boldness and confidence.   In Joshua 3:5, Joshua exhorts the Israelites the day before the Lord opened the waters for them to cross over the River Jordan.  Joshua said, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”   When I am living in the truth of God’s Word, I can have confidence to do what God has called me to do and believe that the Lord will do wonders!  

 “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1: 9

3.       Remember God is always with me.  Throughout Joshua 3 and 4 there is an emphasis on the Ark of the Covenant being with His people and going before them as they crossed over the River Jordan on dry land.  The Ark is mentioned in in Joshua 3:3,6,8,11,13,14,15 and Joshua 4: 5,6,7,9,10,11,16,18. Of course, the Ark of the Covenant is symbolic of the Lord being with them. 

When facing difficult circumstances and overcoming fear, it is important to remember my God is with me, for me, and goes before me (Psalm 139:5).  I must keep my eyes on Him.  They had a physical symbol of the Ark.  I don’t have an Ark, but I have something better, the living Word of God and the Holy Spirit.  

4.  Remember what God has done for me in the past.  In Joshua Chapter 4,  I love how the Lord asks Joshua to put 12 stones up in the midst of the Jordan River (Joshua 4:3-9)as a reminder to the Israelites and their generations to follow of how the Lord parted the waters so they could cross over the river on dry ground.  God is always faithful.  He has always been faithful in the past and He will always be faithful in the future.  He will come through to save, deliver and rescue no matter what the situation.  (I think I might just go get some stones to set up!!)

5.       Watch my words.  God had the Israelites remain silent until they shouted for the walls of Jericho to come down. “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth until the day I say to you, “Shout!” (Joshua 6: 10) 

My words affect my faith.  Words of unbelief and doubt reap actions of unbelief and doubt.  Words of belief and faith, reap actions of belief and faith.  Words of doubt feed fear.  Words of faith feed courage. 

Joshua used the the train of thought--belief-faith-courage-action-success.  He believed God’s promise, encouraged himself and others in that faith through God’s Word, and he took action on what God said to do.  In the end, the walls of Jericho came tumbling down and Joshua entered into his promise land.    

As we follow the same train of thought, we build up our belief in God which feeds our faith, inspires courage, which in turn empowers action and our walls of Jericho will come down so we can enter our promise land as well!! 

So long fear!!!  We are leaving him behind as we move forward into our promise lands!!! 


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