DON’T LOSE HEART

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we are studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the past fifteen years. As we work our way through this passage of verses you’ll see it build on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart.

 

Stretched Faith.

Sometimes life gets tough as we press into the destiny that God has called us to. Our faith gets stretched to limits we’ve never experienced. We may find ourselves questioning God’s plan and purpose. We may even begin to doubt that God is with us because He seems so distant.

Count trials as joy.

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. ~ James 1:2-3

Scripture encourages us to count our trials as joy before us as we follow in Christ steps of suffering. And we can count on God’s joy to strengthen us for our journey. Math is Jesus’ Kingdom is unlike that of the world:

When the world counts troubles:  BAD + BAD = WORSE.

In Jesus’s Kingdom:  BAD + BAD = JOY

 

The author of Hebrews calls us to keep our eyes on Jesus and to follow His example.  As He endured the cross, He focused on the joy of the coming Kingdom rather than the suffering He was experiencing. So too, can we. As we keep our eyes on Christ and the joy before us in His Kingdom we will be less likely to lose heart during our trials and struggles.

We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God! ~ Hebrews 12:2 

Prayer guards our heart.

In Luke 18:1 Jesus tells we are always to pray and not lose heart. Meaning that prayer encourages steadfastness in our spirit and guards our soul against disheartedness while we are waiting on God to answer us.

Trust The King

There will always be opportunities to lose heart and be disappointed. People will let us down. We will even let ourselves down. But with Jesus the King of our heart we can’t lose! No matter how things look today we can trust that God will never let us down!

Contemplate on Jesus being the King of Your Heart today as you watch/listen to this beautiful Bethel Worship song.

All Scripture quoted in this article are from  The Passion Translation (TPT).

The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com

STILL WATERS

On the second Friday of each month in 2019 we are studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: PSALM 23. Join me as we bring fresh application of this beloved psalm to our lives.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pasture, he leads me beside still waters…

We weren’t created to live in state of frenzy… stressing to make it to the next paycheck so we can pay off the debt we accumulated buying things we never use… Hustling to make it to the next rung on the corporate ladder so we can feel better about ourselves.

Life seems to be focused on what we don’t have today. Many of us are stretching ourselves to the breaking point just to get the next best newer things.

When God created Adam and Eve He gave them a peaceful home. They were privileged to live in a Garden created just for them where they walked with God in the cool of the morning. Because The Garden of Eden was the perfect home, I imagine it must have had a beautiful lake where Adam and Eve could sit by the still waters and enjoy the evening sunset with God at their side.

For me one of my most relaxing things is to sit beside water. Whether it’s the ocean, a lake, a river or stream it makes no difference. Water soothes my soul. It brings peace to my spirit and resets my mind after a hard week.

Sheep require still waters before they will drink. Sheep are nervous around moving water and they won’t drink. Because they fear flowing water they’re unable to be refreshed unless the water is still.

We need to find stillness to be refreshed. This is a good lesson for us. It might not happen every day, but we can make a point to regularly find a place of stillness to spend alone time with ourselves and God.

Let technology help if you can’t get to a natural source of water. There are apps and Internet videos galore that can give you a sense of being near water. I listen to an app during my lunch break at work most days. It helps me to rest, reset and prepare for the afternoon.

Seek time with the Living Water. In Scripture Jesus is called the Living Water. So as we’re able to spend time reading God’s Word our soul and spirit will be refreshed.

“All you thirsty ones, come to me! Come to me and drink! Believe in me so that rivers of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your innermost being, just like the Scripture says!” ~ John 7:37-38

Contemplate the Still Waters that God provides to refresh your soul today as you watch/listen to this lovely video by Stephanie Bayne.

“We are blessed, not cursed, when what happens naturally for someone else has to happen supernaturally for us. We will have a divine encounter others may live a lifetime and never experience.”   

~  BETH MOORE  ~

ONE DAY AT A TIME

In The Serenity Prayer column each month we are studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today. These posts will be published the first Friday of each month in 2019.

 

Life is short and it’s getting shorter by the day!

When we are young it seems like time goes by so slowly. Maybe it’s because we are anxiously waiting for important rites of passage: attending school, becoming a teenager, driving a car, graduation, college, etc.

Time seems to pick up speed.

As adults time is fleeting. Our days, weeks, months and years fly by at a speed that seems to match our age. When we’re 30 time flies by at 30 mph. And when we’re 60 life speeds up to a whopping 60 mph! The older we get, the faster time goes by.

Multi-Tasking steals our time.

I think we lose time because we’re multi-processing too much. Eating breakfast in the car on the way to work instead of simply enjoying the morning drive. Checking email messages on the SmartPhone while watching your children on the playground instead of playing with them. Listening to voicemail messages while taking a walk instead of listening to the birds singing, appreaciting the fresh air and sunshine.

Count your time.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. ~ Psalm 90:12
In the above Scripture Moses challenges us to rethink how we live our life. He wants us to make the most of our days since they’re so few. When we come to a full understanding that life is short we will be better stewards of our time. The more conscious we are of time will make us better at using the time we’ve been given for an eternal good.
In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus encourages us not to worry about life, clothes, food, or money. He takes it a step further and tells us not to worry even about tomorrow. He wants us to take each day as it comes trusting that God will be with us no matter what it may bring.
Deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. ~ Matthew 6:34

Enjoy this awesome new video! Josh Wilson’s song will help us live One Day At A Time and not borrow from tomorrow with worry and stress today.

BOOK REVIEW: LIVE THE LET-GO LIFE by Joseph Prince

LIVE THE LET-GO LIFE:

Breaking Free from Stress, Worry and Anxiety

by

Joseph Prince

 

 

With beautifully applicable stories and a fresh look at some familiar Scriptures, Pastor Joseph Prince challenges us to take a different walk through our daily life.

Rather than allowing the worry, stresses and challenges of life to choke the flow of God’s grace; we must relax and let go of situations that are ultimately out of our control and allow God’s amazing grace to flow as He intends it to to the needed areas of our life.

 

“God is always supplying by His grace. Our part is to let go and let His supply flow.” ~ Joseph Prince

 

Pastor Prince tells us, as long as we are worried and in strife, we preventing the flow of God’s grace to come where we need it the most. While we are so caught up in the worries and trying to solve issues, we are actually preventing God from doing the work we are asking for.

“If it’s a miracle you need, a miracle you will get— if you remain in peace.” ~ Joseph Prince

 

The teachings in LIVE THE LET-GO LIFE  go against everything in our human nature. It takes committed determination to persevere to the peace that God wants us to have in our lives. We must labor to rest, to believe in the promise that Jesus made,  that the peace He left us is ours. It’s up to us to accept it and keep accepting it each and every moment of every day.

I highly recommend LIVE THE LET-GO LIFE by Joseph Prince. If you struggle with stress, worry and anxiety, this is God’s answer for you today!

THANKSGIVING OVERFLOWING

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we are studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the last decade. As we work our way through this passage of verses you’ll see it build on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

 

Someone is always watching.

Depending on how we walk out the different seasons in our life will determine how others see God. If we’re always stressed out and worried, the people around us are not going to think too highly of the God that we worship.

Keep your head and heart high.

If we walk out a challenging time with our head held high, with a smile on our face and a good attitude in our heart, trusting that God is going to provide our needs as they come up, then those around us will believe that our faith is genuine and that God is real.

Share God’s Grace.

As we experience God’s grace and share this outpouring with others they will know that He is the only one who could have brought the breakthroughs about. Just as the portion of our verse for today says, we will see thanksgiving overflow to God’s glory.

Allow thanksgiving to overflow from your life!

When our lives declare the love that God has spoken over us God is lifted up. When God is getting glory for something in our life, no matter what brought it about, it’s all worthwhile! Live grateful, watch God be glorified and see others give thanks to God on your behalf.

Contemplate gratefulness with ElevationWorship’s video.

GREEN PASTURES

On the second Friday of each month in 2019 we are studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: PSALM 23. Join me as we bring fresh application of this beloved psalm to our lives.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures…

Sometimes the pasture may seem greener on the other side of the fence. I think the other pasture is greener only because there’s more manure there. If you get my meaning. But seriously, just because other pastures appear to be better doesn’t mean they are.

Don’t believe everything you see.

Don’t compare your pasture to that of others. Stop and see the lush green pasture God has provided for you today. Your pasture may not be all you dream for, but I’m pretty sure this pasture is better than where you came from. I know mine certainly is!

Striving and stressing.

Are you striving to keep up with your friend, neighbor or co-worker? God wants us to rest in the green pasture He’s already provided for us. Yes, we can work to improve our pasture where needed. But to strive and run after things that are not in God’s plan for us today will wear us out. If we are experiencing frustration we’re working in our own power not God’s power.

Cultivate thankfulness.

We must find our way to gratefulness. If we can’t be thankful for what God has given us today, why would He want to give us more to complain about tomorrow? The enemy of our soul tries to keep us in a state of discontent. Our challenge is to push past the battle in our thoughts to find the joy in our hearts that God has given us. Then we will be able to rest in the green pastures God has given us today.

Contemplate God’s goodness that surrounds you right this minute as you listen to this classic Bluegrass Gospel song recorded by Ricky Skaggs.

WISDOM

In The Serenity Prayer column each month we are studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today. These columns will be published the first Friday of each month in 2019.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

wisdom: knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgement as to action, discernment or insight; knowing what is right and doing it.

Feelings are our worst enemy.

When we come to the decision point described in The Serenity Prayer asking to know the difference between things we can change and  the things we can’t change; often our emotions blur the process. Our feelings often keep us attached to people, things and behaviors long after we should’ve let them go.

Where can we get the wisdom that we need?

Scripture tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10) So if we start by having a holy reverence for God we’ve made a good first step. James tells us that if we need wisdom to ask for it. (James 1:5) It seems pretty basic and simple. Our biggest challenge is to put aside our pride and ask!

How do we know we have wisdom?

There are several characteristics of wisdom we can look for in our life.

…the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. ~ James 3:17

Let peace be the ruler of your heart.

When we’re at a decision crossroad, we can filter our process through the character qualities James teaches us. We can be gentle, showing no favoritism, yielding to others when necessary. Walking in mercy, compassion and sincerity we can prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us with the peace ruling our hearts.

When in doubt do without.

For many years this has been my life motto. When shopping for groceries, buying a car, or taking next steps with important decisions… I stop and check the peace in my gut. If I don’t have a peace I won’t go forward. If there is any doubt at all, I will wait. It’s better to wait than to rush and make what could be a costly mistake.

The Spirit of Wisdom.

As Christians we have within us the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit that created all things is available to guide and direct us in our daily lives as we follow the peace.

As you listen to this beautiful worship song, take a few moments and prayerfully meditate on God’s wisdom and grace that is available to you for the asking.

TURN FROM WILLFULNESS

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The second step of humility is that we love not our own will nor take pleasure in the satisfaction of our own desires.  ~ (Rule of Benedict 7:31)

I have come not to do my own will, but the will of the One who sent me. ~ John 6:38

Jesus is our perfect example for life.

When He walked the earth, Jesus’ disciples saw him perform many miracles. But amazingly they didn’t ask him to teach them how to heal people or raise the dead. The disciples only asked Jesus how to pray. In this model prayer, Jesus taught them to ask for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. This is our starting point.

We can’t accept God’s will until our heart’s ready for it.

It will be impossible for us to turn from our self-will and embrace God’s will if we are completely immersed in our own view of reality. This means examining our heart’s desires. What’s at the root? What is the motivation? Why? Maybe it’s from past abuse or poor parenting. As we read God’s Word and pray the Holy Spirit will transform our mind. Gradually our heart will softens in humility and become able to follow God’s will.

One with the Father.

Our life is to be modeled after Jesus. He did nothing and spoke nothing that wasn’t from his Father in Heaven. This is where our heart and mind need to be: one with our Father’s will. To think like Jesus thought. That will come as we continue to stay in God’s Word and in His Presence. Only then can we hope to turn from the stubborn willfulness that plagues our humanity and live God’s best life.

Contemplate trusting God’s will for your life as you listen to this sweet song from Hillsong Young and Free.

GRACE IS REACHING

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we are studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the last decade. As we work our way through this passage of verses you’ll see how it builds on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people…

It seams we’re hearing more about God’s grace than ever before. God’s grace certainly isn’t a new thing. For some reason we are more in tune with it or maybe we are more aware of it. Grace may appear simple but there are multiple layers to the concept of grace.

Grace defined.

Biblical grace is defined simply as the undeserved favor and blessings from God. It is a gift from God through Christ which gives us the power and ability to do what God wants us to do. Grace not only is a gift from God to us, it is working in and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How grace reaches me.

For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9 (GNT)

We have access to God’s grace simply through faith. God’s grace is freely given to us the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. But really it was the grace of God that even opened our heart to know and receive Christ to begin with. God’s love is full of grace. God’s grace is full of love.

How grace reaches others through me.

Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it.  ~ Matthew 5:16 (VOICE)

My proper response to God’s amazing grace is a life well lived for Christ. And that is exactly how God’s grace reaches others through me. They will see how our attitudes have changed, we may have freedom from an addiction or recent healing in our relationships. We may be exhibiting a special gift: teaching, giving, leading, or encouraging those around us.

Whatever the case, we must remember in each and every season of our life we have a cloud of witnesses watching. Whether it’s our neighbors, family or co-workers… someone is always watching to see how we’re walking life out. I pray by the power of God’s grace I will leave His influence in my wake.

God, keep us near your grace-fountain and bless us!
And when you look down on us, may your face beam with joy!

Send us out all over the world so that everyone everywhere
    will discover your ways and know who you are
    and see your power to save.  ~ Psalm 67:1-2 (TPT)

Contemplate how God’s amazing grace is reaching in and through your life as you listen to one of my new favorite songs by Elevation Worship.

*The Voice Translation

**The Passion Translation