Monday, May 25, 2015

Stop Praying

It was an early morning run.  My friend and I met up, shoes laced and pavement ahead.  Running can be therapeutic, especially with a friend.  As we ran, we talked about life, about God, about our struggles and our victories.  Friendship is a beautiful thing and I'm very thankful for this friend.

That morning she shared how she had been praying and praying about something for years, to the point where she was beginning to get discouraged about this one area in her life.  I listened.  Then, two words, almost counter intuitive, rose up inside of me.  They could seem shocking or even blasphemous...

Stop Praying.

I'm sure my friend thought I had lost my mind on the last hill during those three miles.

Before you start thinking this girl just took the oxy out of oxymoron...

"Answer this question:  Does the God who lavishly provides you with His own presence, His Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does He do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust Him to do them in you?" Galations 3:5-6 MSG

My point is actually not to stop praying.  In fact, that would be not be Biblical.  We are called to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thes 5: 17).  However, what does praying without ceasing look like?  Isn't is just continual conversation with the Lord about all things, then trusting Him to work out everything together for our good? (Romans 8:28).

Yes. Pray. Please. Pray.  But...  After you have prayed, there comes a time when you must enter in His rest and just trust.

Does the Lord who lavishly provides you with His own presence, His Holy Spirit, working things out in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does He do these things because of your striving or because you trust Him?

The answer is simple.  Trust.

It isn't up to you! Now, that is liberating! 













Monday, May 11, 2015

Fear Steals

Fear steals.

The sun shone down warming my shoulders as we road a ski lift up to the top of a fanciful water amusement park.  At the top was a mountain plunging a near vertical 12 story drop!  However, the water monstrosity didn't scare me nearly as much as the ski lift to the top.




I never have noticed a fear of heights in me, but that day, fear was there.  All around me was beauty and a magnificent view as we scaled higher above the trees.  However, the beauty all around me escaped my vision due to fear. 


But, that is what fear does.  Fear steals.  Fear steals the beauty around us and causes us to focus inward instead of looking outward.  

Fear of rejection causes us to focus on our own insecurities instead of the beauty of the people around us.  

Fear of failure can cause us to cower instead of step out in adventure and risk.  Fear of failure can also steal our destiny if left to overtake us.   

Fear of abandonment can cause us to miss intimacy in relationships and open ourselves up to the beautiful friendships the Lord has placed in our lives.  

Fear of the unexpected can paralyze us right out of God's perfect will. 

Fear causes us to miss out on the blessings God has placed all around us.  

And fear of heights can cause us to miss out on the amazing God-given views above our eye level. 

Plain and simply fear steals. From views to value to valor to vulnerability, fear keeps us from freedom.  

Instead of allowing fear to hold us in chains, we need to take fear captive.  

I pray we would rise up with courage, cast down our fear and stand firm in God's love and care.  Fear, we are onto you.  We know how you come to steal.  You are a thief and thieves belong behind bars.  

"We demolish arguments and very pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ." 2 Cor 10:5 

"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. We love him because he first loved us."  1 John 5:18-19

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?"  Psalm 27:1

















Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jill and Tilly

Shortly after I became a Christian, in 1998, the Lord led me to a Bible study with two other ladies from my Sunday school class at church.  It was such a blessing because I really wanted to grow and develop strong Christian friendships.  Due to my past, I didn't feel worthy of Christian friendships and thought anyone in my Sunday school class would surely reject me if they truly knew about my past.

One day at Bible study, my friend, Jill, asked us to pray for a friend of hers who was considering having an abortion.  I said I would pray.  As I began praying, tears began to fall.  Tears turned into sobs to the point where I could hardly even pray.  I apologized and quickly brushed it off as just getting emotional about praying.

That night, the phone rang.  I answered the phone and it was Jill.  She said, "Sue, the Holy Spirit wanted me to call you.  I feel like He wanted me to ask you if you have had an abortion."

Pause.

My heart pounded as I softly answered, "Yes."

Jill was the first Christian friend I had ever told.  She was the first person I had shared openly with about the abortion other than my husband

The response I received from my friend that night was life changing.  I expected that if my Christian friends knew the truth, they would reject me and condemn me.  The enemy had me believing a lie and it was the furthest thing from the truth.  Jill extended so much grace and love to me that night.  My heart began healing that very night, and all because my friend was obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit and made a phone call.

The Lord was at work and the next week, I was listening to the Focus on the Family radio program when the story of Tilly by Frank Peretti came on the air.  Again, my heart softened and began to heal.  The Lord was revealing that He was at work and wanted to heal my heart.  I can't explain it, but to know the Lord loved me so much and was so interested in healing me, overwhelmed me.  I remember sitting there on the floor of my apartment, on my knees, listening to Tilly, tears flowing and wondering how could this be that the Lord would want to heal me.

He does heal.  And not only does He heal, He desires to heal.  He is very involved in your life and interested in your healing.  Healing is most often times a process.  Just like the couple of steps I just shared with you.  There have been many more steps since that first year the Lord began my healing. And although I have had much healing, I know the Lord continues to heal me even now.

I don't believe we will be finished here on earth.  It is an ever-going process with the Lord.  But, the day is coming when we will be complete in Him.  And oh what a glorious day that will be!

"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

Lord, I thank You for Your promise that You will complete the good work You begin in us.  Lord, I pray for those who maybe feel like they haven't started the process.  Lord, I pray for you to bring them their Jill and Tilly.  I pray for You to lead them and guide them in the next step and in every step towards complete healing in You.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 









Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Catching Up and a Little Diving


Hey Friends,

First of all, I want to start today with a letter before my post to apologize for not writing on here for three weeks!  I don't recall ever going that long in the four years I have been writing without posting something on here.  Life has been busy and crazy and I just flat out have not had much time to write.

My dad had surgery a few weeks ago and then had to undergo the same surgery again due to complications.  Much of my emotional energy has gone into what is happening with him.  But I want you to know I haven't forgotten you and I love you all very much.  The Lord continually shows me that I am in His will with writing and to continue no matter the results at this time.  So with all that being said, I am happy to be back with you today and pray for the words the Lord gives me to bless you and encourage you to continually live free in Him.

Love,
Sue

I am currently leading the Bible study, Children of the Day by Beth Moore, and I wanted to share something the Lord showed me the other day.

"We have access to the Holy Spirit welling up in us like a spring. Tapping into Him requires deliberation and cooperation so God can love through us. Like me, you've probably asked Him to love through you, then fizzled out within the hour. Here's the catch: we cannot love when we perceive ourselves as unloved. We cannot offer to others what we don't possess."

Jude 21 says, 'Keep yourselves in the love of God, expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.' That means practicing the mindset of being profusely loved by God. We must invite our souls to plunge into His love like a dolphin romping in the sea. Actively engaging in His unending, extravagant, no strings - attached affection for you is not narcissism.  It's necessary. It can mean our survival when we're faced with loving the loveless." -Beth Moore

I loved this! "We must invite our souls to plunge into His love like a dolphin romping into the sea." 

We must plunge into the depths of His love!

The Lord said to me, "Sue, this is what you must understand, know, and believe...YOU ARE LOVED. You cannot love well unless you know YOU ARE LOVED."

It seems so elementary, but I think here in lies the mystery of why loving is sometimes hard. We forget how loved we are by the very Creator of the Universe!

At times, we may feel rejected, judged, unaccepted, overlooked, hurt or abandoned by others. However, when we are submerged in the depth of His love and know we are loved, it is a protective covering that deflects the darts of unlove.

He will never reject.  He will never hurt. He will never abandon. He only loves.

YOU ARE LOVED.  


Friday, April 3, 2015

Stoop and Look


"But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb." John 20:11

Mary stood outside the empty tomb weeping.  She knew the tomb was empty, but only by stooping down and looking into the tomb did she receive the revelation of glory!  The tomb was empty because Jesus is alive!

Without the belief that Jesus is alive, Mary had no hope.

The word "stoop" is parakypto in Greek and it means "To look at with head bowed forward."

Mary received hope because she stooped or bowed her head forward.  "Stoop" seems to me to be a kneeling position, the position of prayer.  In the position of prayer, her viewpoint eventually changed.

Her understanding came as she knelt down and sought answers, slowly, each step revealing new enlightenment.  She could not see the True Hope was right there in front of her. Hope was literally right there in front of her eyes.  Jesus was standing there...ALIVE!  

"Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus." John 20:14

Friends, I want you to know that Jesus is standing right in front of you.  I know you may feel empty inside, but as long as the tomb is empty, we can be full!

The tomb is empty because Jesus is alive!  Your circumstances may look dismal and bleak.  It may appear that all hope is lost, but Hope is standing right there!

Bow your head and eventually everything will become clear.  You will see Hope standing right in front of you.  

Do you know what I love about Jesus?  No weeping is insignificant.  No tears are misplaced.  He is standing by His beloved even when our vision is fogged or faulty.  Even when we are blinded to His presence right in front of our eyes, He calls. He waits. He answers.

The Living Hope is standing right in front of you today.  We soberly remember Good Friday and the goodness of our Lord and Savior Jesus.  We reflect on the price paid for our freedom and salvation.
And we celebrate His glory and victory over sin and death!  We celebrate the empty tomb!  Jesus is not in the grave.  He is alive and standing right in front of us!

Stoop down and look.

Happy Resurrection Sunday!!!  He is ALIVE!!!








Thursday, March 26, 2015

Happy Endings

The other night I was reading to my daughter from her Little Princess Devotional when my daughter asked me a question:

What is hope and faith?

We had just seen recent blockbuster Cinderella.  Therefore, with fairy tales fresh on the mind, I explained hope and faith in the best way I thought an eight year old could understand.

Hope is to believe in a happy ending.





"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 NIV  

Biblical "hope" is having a confident expectation of a positive outcome.

Therefore, to have faith is to believe or have a confident expectation of a positive outcome when the evidence is not yet seen.

In the movie Cinderella, there is a point when Cinderella nearly loses her hope.  She almost can't believe in her happy ending.  But, we all know what happens, don't we?  Yes.  Her fairy God-mother shows up!

Sometimes in our lives, we may nearly lose all hope.  We may even feel like we can't go on and there is no use in trying.  It is at those times that we must not lose our hope.  We must continue to believe there is a happy ending.

Cinderella almost gave up.  If she had, it would have cost her a prince and a happiest of endings. Her prince came to her rescue and so will our Prince.

I love this picture of hope as believing in happy endings mostly because it is so simple and child-like.

The Lord says in His Word that we are to have faith as a child and come to Him as a child (Mark 10:15).  Believing is child-like faith.

I understand that life can be hard and your circumstances may look dismal.  In fact, perhaps you are at that place where you have almost lost all hope...hopelessness.  If that is you today, my hope and desire is to encourage you to have hope.  My aim is to encourage you that God has a good plan for you.

We play a part in writing our own stories.  Yes, we make choices daily.  We decide in what direction the plot will turn.  However, as long as our pens are in sync with the Author, we can rest assured He is guiding our story towards a happy ending.

This is the great mystery.  How do we write our own stories when there ultimately is a divine Author.  I may not be able to answer that question, but I do know the Author and I know He is good.

Sometimes our happy endings look different than how we would have written them, but He is a better writer than us  We need to trust the Author.

I trust the Author.

Lord, I trust you.  I pray my pen is hand in hand with Yours.  I thank you that I can be confident for the things I hope for because I can be confident in You.  Thank you Lord for happy endings.  I believe.  Amen. 

Hope...Believe...Trust






















Monday, March 23, 2015

Grace Runs Towards

"And he arose and came to his father.  But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him."  Luke 15:20

"Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing...But he was angry and would not go in.  Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him."  Luke 15:25, 28.  

Both of the verses above are found in Luke 15 in the story of the prodigal son.  If you haven't read the story before, I encourage you to go read Luke 15:11-32 now and then come back.  We'll wait.{smile}

Great story.  The first son had squandered away all his inheritance, he turned his back on his father and family and decided to live only for himself.  The second son stayed at home, was in sense "a good boy" and worked hard on the farm.

Who sinned?  Did the first son sin who wasted all he had on foolish living?  Did the second son sin who worked hard for his father?  Yes.  And Yes.

Both sons sinned.  In Romans 3:10, it says, "There is no one righteous, no not one."

Both sons were in need of grace.  So, let me ask you some questions...

Who is the Father for in this passage?  Who does the Father care more about?

The answer:  Both.

The Father is not for one of His sons and against another.  He is for both.  He desires both.

The body of Christ is not in competition with each other.  The second son in the passage made the mistake of thinking that if his father was for his first son, then he was somehow being robbed.

Not so.

And what I found so incredibly beautiful is how the father ran to both sons.

It says in the passage the father ran to his son even when he was still a great way off.  The Father will run to His sons and daughters even when they are still a great way off.   Grace runs towards.

And when the second son was also in sin and angry (and most likely self-righteous, prideful and jealous), the father didn't abandon him either.  "His father came out [to him] and pleaded with him." Grace moved toward this son as well.

Grace runs towards. 

What I want to point out in these verses is how in both cases the father moved towards his sons even when they were struggling with sin.

As Christians, I think we are sometimes afraid of those we see who are struggling with sin.  Maybe we are afraid we will "catch" the sin like a disease.  Or maybe we don't want to associate ourselves with those in sin in fear of what people like think of us.  Or maybe we are just full of self-righteousness and pride like the second son and think we are better than our brother.  Ouch.

The Bible does clearly warn us to be careful when attempting to restore a brother who has been in sin so we don't fall into temptation (Galations 6:1), however, it is only saying that to remind you that you too are prone to sin and no better than your brother.

If we can truly look at others with the eyes of grace, realizing that we are not better than others, I think we would be able to run towards our brothers with grace with open arms and loving hearts.

To abandon one when they are weak or in sin is to misunderstand the heart of God.  Grace runs towards the broken and lost.  

I am speaking to myself as well here.  I need this.  All I know is that when I was in the depth of sin, there was no one running toward me.  All I felt were people pushing me away.  How beautiful it would have been to have felt the loving breeze of grace running towards me in my greatest time of need.  I pray I would remember and be that breeze of grace for others.

Today, I want to encourage you to run towards someone.  Be that breeze of grace.  It may be just the breeze they need to lead them back to the Father.














 
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