What a mess! Can God do anything with this??

What a mess!!Messy room with girl in it

Sometimes it’s easy to look at our life and wonder “Can God do anything with this?” We look at all of our faults and question if there is any way that He will ever be able to truly change the mess inside. But the good news is He already has done something about the mess! The word of God tells us that we are redeemed and restored to glory – that old things have passed away and all things have become new.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

But the enemy will lie to us so consistently and so believably pointing out our flaws and our failures that our consciousness of who we are in Christ becomes deadened and our focus on the lies becomes acute.

What is the solution for this? I believe that thanksgiving plays a major role in keeping God at the center of our focus and not placing weight on the wrong things. Do we have flaws?  Yes, we do. Do we have failures? Yes, we do. But believe it or not, those things do not define us. God has clothed us in the righteousness of Christ and he sees us as perfectly redeemed and restored. He doesn’t see us that way as in seeing us through a hopeful vision of who we may become someday. He sees us that way NOW.

Galatians 3:27
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

 

Romans 13:14

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

So why do we continue to struggle with the old man? Why is it so easy to see ourselves as defeated, as a bad person, as a failure?

It’s because we have lost our vision of the truth. But thanksgiving will put the truth back in the center of our focus. It will put the miraculous work that God has done in us and for us on Center Stage. We can’t afford to lose the awareness of God’s presence for one moment or we will succumb to the pressures of this life and to a worldview of ourselves and our limitations.

We serve a God who is unlimited and who calls us to live an unlimited life of adventure and holiness, so a small-minded view of ourselves will hinder God’s plan.

  • Do you wake up excited for a new day? Do you rise in the morning with an awareness of God and a feeling of intimacy with him?
  • Or do you wake up feeling already defeated, hemmed-in by your life, by your obligations and by your poor self-esteem?
  • Do you see other people’s successes and envy them because you feel you will never have success of your own?
  • Do you see goodness in other people and feel condemned by it because you wonder if God is disappointed in you?

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that God adores us and loves us the way he does when we are so busy comparing ourselves to other people. But He does love us each uniquely. He created us and he loves who he created. It is unhealthy to focus more on the problems in our lives and in ourselves than on the goodness of God. Thanksgiving turns our perspective around changing our thinking from focusing on the negative and on our failures to focusing on the work of God.

Now you:

  • Do you want to wake up with a positive attitude about the day and about your life?
  • Do you want to stay aware of the goodness of God throughout the day.

Thankfulness is the key to keeping God at the center of our focus.  We can set a reminder on our phone or place sticky notes around our house to remind us to be thankful.  We can teach our children the difference between being thankful for what they have and complaining about what they don’t have.

I was with a mother last night who had her daughter with her.  The daughter is around 10 or 11 years old.  When they were leaving the cafe where we were meeting, the daughter started to complain that the mom hadn’t bought her a cookie.  The mom calmly stopped her by lifting up her finger and said, “That’s complaining.  That’s not being thankful.  How about being thankful for the wonderful salad with chicken and tomatoes that mom bought you? How about being thankful for your family and for your blessings, like swimming lessons?” The daughter proceeded to try to voice her complaint but the mom stopped her again and said, “If you want to complain, you’re not going to do it front of me. You’re blessed and you need to say ‘Thank you’ to me, not gripe and complain.” The daughter, seeing that her complaining wasn’t getting her what she wanted relented and said, “Thank you for dinner.”  I thought that was such a great lesson.  Instead of telling her daughter that she didn’t want to hear the griping, the mother focused on the fact that being thankful should be her attitude and she helped her daughter by focusing her thoughts on things to be grateful for.

Let’s parent ourselves well and stop that little griping child inside from voicing complaint after complaint.  Let’s put a finger to our mouth and stop ourselves from being unthankful, rather reminding ourselves of things that we can be grateful for! Amen!!

 

Do it like Daniel: Dedicated prayer brings discernment and answers

The praying woman

Sometimes when I’m reading the Bible, I am prompted to write out the scripture as a prayer or a declaration for myself or for someone else. Other times, what I have read prompts me to write a prayer of dedication as I did in the journal excerpt below.

As I am reading in Daniel chapter 10, I see examples of what happens in the heavenlies when people pray. I see angels sent to bring forth Your word, to do warfare, and to deliver messages, encouragement and direction. I see the angelic host being withstood by the demonic host. But I also see that you have victory over all the power of darkness even if for a time darkness seems to be winning. I know that your word is filled with wisdom, insight, and revelation about spiritual warfare. I believe that through Your Word I can learn how to be successful in spiritual warfare. I pray dear Jesus, that I would learn, that I would devour your word in the area of spiritual warfare that I may become bold and wise in how I pray and intercede. I want a hunger to be placed in me to see your kingdom come and your will be done on this Earth as far as it concerns me. Help me to grasp the hidden mysteries in your word as revealed by your Spirit and to live my life according to that truth. Regardless of what I see with my eyes, let me lean completely into your truth. Let me burn with a zeal in my latter days that will bring revelation and freedom to the captives. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Now you:

  • Do you desire to learn how to pray so that things change?
  • Rather than throw up weak, faithless prayers that you’re not certain even get heard, do you want to learn how to be led by God’s voice into a strategy that impacts your world?
  • Do you believe that God still moves today?
  • Do you struggle to believe that God hears you or cares about the things you pray for?

The first step in successful spiritual warfare is to learn to discern the voice of God from all other voices that would seek to keep our attention. Yes, we have an enemy. And yes, we need to realize that he hides in camouflage so as not to be discovered. But the Light that you have on the inside of you, if you are a child of God, is so much greater than the darkness, that we needn’t spend all of our time in prayer combatting the devil. In fact, Daniel wasn’t combatting the principalities during his three week fast and prayer vigil.  He was seeking the Lord’s face and answers for the condition of his people. Let us be like Daniel, discerning the times, bringing our concerns to God in faith that He is able to make a difference and then let God and his angelic host do the part we cannot do. Ask God today to give you heart to see His Kingdom come and His will be done on the earth. That’s a big prayer…and we serve a big God who told us to pray that way!

I encourage you to read Daniel chapter 10 and then use my prayer of dedication as your own or write a prayer of your own to pray!

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Jesus isn’t Spider Man – He is the Son of Man: So how did he do the miracles he did?

Spider ManWas Jesus like Spider Man?  Was He human one minute, changing into a superhero the next?? I used to struggle silently with these questions because it made no sense to me how Jesus could operate at such a miraculous level.  It seemed to me as though God gave Jesus an unfair advantage during his life on earth that I don’t have. I mean, how can I be expected to live like Jesus? I’m not the Son of God, right??

But here’s the truth that I have been wrapping my brain around for last number of years: Yes, Jesus is referred to as the Son of God, but his favorite moniker was Son of Man.

Jesus was fully human every minute of his earthly life, whether laughing and walking with his disciples, or walking on water, or making a mud pack for a blind man’s eyes curing his blindness. He did everything as a man.  It’s a mystery to me how He could do this; but somehow He left his glory with the Father and took on human flesh. He chose to have to live as we do, reliant on the voice of the Holy Spirit to relay the will of the Father and empower Him for miracles.

As a result of that choice, we now have an example of what God’s glory shining in and through a person completely surrendered to Him looks like.

Just because it’s hard to imagine how he could live a perfect life as a man like us doesn’t make it untrue. Just because you’ve never walked on water doesn’t mean that Jesus used cheater powers to do that.  If Jesus did the miracles that he did using a power that we don’t have access to, then we could be impressed but unchanged and un-challenged.  But knowing that he completely shed his former glory while living as one of us on the earth, makes us accountable and challenged by the life he lived.

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Yikes! It’s time to make a change: How to find the strength you need

Feet overlooking waterHave you ever known that there is a change that you need to make in your life but you have absolutely NO desire to execute that change? Have you ever wrestled with the impossibility that you will be able to follow through or be successful in making the change you know is needed? Maybe you know that you need to start an exercise regime, but you’re completely overwhelmed by the prospect of all that is involved with getting to the gym, going out for a run or walk on a regular basis or of sticking out the commitment to be physically fit.  Or maybe there is a habit that you know-that-you-know you need to quit but the thought of living without “…” is daunting and totally unappealing.  You hate the habit but you NEED the thing you’re attached to, and it makes you almost panicky to think of life without it. Or maybe you want to add healthy choices into your life like better ways of eating, being a more connected friend or serving in your community, but the thoughts of what the cost will be and everything in your life that will have to adjust in order to make room for this new lifestyle is keeping your feet in the blocks.

If any of these life challenge screen shots describes you, I GET IT!! I have been there in each and every one of those tight squeeze places where who I am and who I know I am supposed to be are as far apart as the edges of the Grand Canyon.  But I have a word of encouragement for each of us.  The good news is that God knows that we cannot traverse that chasm in our own strength.  He sets the vision for the next place that He wants to take us and He is fully prepared to get us there.  The problem is that since we’re locked in these things called “Time” and “Space”, we get freaked out when the change doesn’t happen overnight.  We would prefer that the moment the revelation hits that we should start to exercise, cut out sugar, stop cussing, turn our gossiping and critical mouth into a thankful and praising mouth, or start being faithful in reading the Bible and prayer, that the desire and the ability to execute would also be there.

But it doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately, I have found that the Preview of Coming Attractions comes way before either the desire or the ability.  And even once the desire comes, it can be quite a while before the strategy or the ability come as well.  And that can cause a lot of frustration (What is wrong with me? Why do I still fall short in this area? Why can’t I quit “…”? Why can’t I start “…”? and so on).  But from this frustration is born the moment of choice that God needs from us. He will never shove His will down our throats.  He simply pulls back the curtain and lets us see the better way but at the end of the day, it will always be our choice whether we want to go down the path that will bring life and freedom or remain in the place where we are.

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Victorious: A word to the Church for the days we are in

Girl praying.jpg

On Sunday, August 20th, the Lord impressed this word on my heart and I shared it with our congregation.

I, the Lord your God, am a consuming fire. I am the God who makes days, times and seasons. And your times are in my hands.  The times of all creation are in My hands.  Make ready your hearts.  Make ready your homes. Fill your lamps with oil, says the Lord. Fill your lamps with oil for yourself, for your families, for your neighbors, for those I am calling. There is abundant supply. Access the abundant supply. Not just enough for you, says the Lord, but enough to give away, enough to draw the nations. My heart, My heart is crying out for the lost and you are the answer. You are the healing. Your hands are my hands, says the Lord.  Our feet are My feet. Where you go, I go. I send you, says the Lord, not in your own strength, but in My strength. You are not as you appear. You are Jesus on this earth and nothing, nothing can stand against My church.  You go now. You go now in the strength of My Spirit and nothing can withstand you, says the Lord.  There is no power in hell that can stand against you for all has been defeated and you are in Christ.  You are Mine. And I have made you for this day, I have made you for this time. You are where you are because I have placed you here. And there are those you will touch, there are those you will speak to that you have been destined to minister to. You are My children and you have been marked with the seal of My Holy Spirit – My Holy Spirit. My Holy, Holy Spirit lives in you. You are My vessel. You are pure. You are refined. You are sanctified.  You are marked with the blood of the Lamb and nothing will stop this mighty moving force that is My church, says the Lord.

Now you:

  • Do you believe that these are the last days as referred to by Paul in 2 Timothy?
  • Do you know that you are the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth today?
  • Do you know that God has placed you in the family, the job, the church and the neighborhood where you are so that you will be His representative on this earth? If we are His body, what would Jesus do for your family, your friends and your colleagues if He were here in the flesh? What problems would He solve, what healing would He bring and what truth would He convey?

Even though I was the one who delivered it, this word is challenging me in considerable ways.  When the Lord says, ‘Get ready’, we better take note and get ready. When he tells us that we are able to accomplish our assignment and that nothing will be able to stop us, we need to quit making excuses.  I am challenged and taking this to prayer.  I am asking the Lord to help me make changes and evaluate my life properly.  This life is not a dress rehearsal.  We have one shot on this ball of water and dirt and I personally don’t want to abuse the privilege of carrying the presence of Jesus in my mortal body.  I want to represent the Father and Jesus well and be His hands and feet on this earth.  I believe you do, too. Let’s pray.

Father, we can do nothing without you, that we know. But we forget is that WITH You, we can do mighty things.  You are waiting for us to get up and do those mighty things and live out the truth that it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us.  Let us grow in devotion, in passion and in boldness to bring your goodness into this lost and dark world.  You have prepared good works for us to walk in.  Help us to see what to do and be obedient to do it. Help us to be relentless in cleaning the junk out of our hearts and minds so that your Presence can flow through a pure vessel.  You are good and patient and we thank you for your mercies that are new every morning! Amen.

Thought For the Day: We should REHEARSE all of God’s benefits to ourselves and others

StrawberriesThought for the day: Not only should we not FORGET all the Lord’s benefits, but we should REHEARSE all of His benefits OUT LOUD to ourselves and to others.  Speaking about the benefits and blessings of the Lord keeps His presence at the forefront of our minds.

It’s too easy to lose sight of God’s greatness and goodness in our tiresome lives. It’s too easy to focus on everything that isn’t happening.  So the Lord gave us a solution for our ingratitude and shortsightedness.  In Psalm 103, He tells us to forget not all of His benefits.  The opposite of forget is remember, right? But simply remembering His benefits in the solitude of our mind doesn’t create the atmosphere of God’s favor that speaking about His benefits does.

Have you ever been around a person who is talking about something great that happened to them? As they speak, you can see how they are reliving that situation in their minds as if they were there. The same is true for when we tell others about the things that God has done for us.  As we relive His goodness and power, people can see that our God is real and moving on our behalf.  A God who once was a theory in their mind now becomes the Living Wonder that He truly is.

And as far as it concerns us, I have noticed that when we lose sight of God’s benefits, we grow cold in our affection towards the Lord. But when we remind ourselves and others of what God has done for us, we refocus ourselves on the fact that the that God who poured out His benefits before can do it again.

So today, let’s open our mouths to our families and friends and tell them of the benefits that God has poured out.  Ask the Lord to bring situations back to your memory and to give you opportunities to share testimonies of His care with people who need to be encouraged.  You never know how the goodness that God has poured out in your life will bless someone else – and I KNOW it will certainly bless you!

And if you’re having trouble thinking of anything to applaud as a benefit, I recommend reading all of Psalm 103 where the Psalmist rehearses many of the benefits of the Lord. Those displays of God’s goodness, mercy and patience should never lose their luster in our affections; and if they have, repent for your hard-heartedness and ask the Lord where the root of bitterness has sprung up. He will show you, wash you up and restore the joy of your salvation!

Psalm 103:2 – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.

Psalm 116:12 – What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?

Now you:

  • Can you think of a time that God poured out His goodness and mercy upon your circumstances? Can you recall times when you could imagine the worst, called out to God for rescue and then watched Him work His wonders on your behalf?
  • Do you ever spend time in prayer just thanking God for what you have rather than asking for something more?
  • Do you know people who are discouraged and who don’t believe that God would ever want to do anything good for them?

Dear God

Today, let’s make it a point to thank God for all we have instead of asking Him for anything more,  Let’s exalt the ways that He has blessed us and create an atmosphere of His goodness around us that others can draw from.  Amen!