Position Yourself to Receive from God

IMG_0011When you agree with God, you position yourself to receive from God.

  1. FORGIVENESS. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
  2. SALVATION.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:16-17).
  3. LOVE. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
  4. ACCEPTANCE. “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by an new and living way opened for us through the curtains, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-22, emphasis mine).
  5. REST.  “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
  6. STRENGTH.  “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead…” (Ephesians 1:18-20).
  7. SECURITY. “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:17-19).
  8. PRESENCE. “If you love Me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17).
  9. PEACE.  “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).
  10. WISDOM. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
  11. PROVISION.  “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31-33).
  12. OVERFLOWING LIFE. “Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:38).
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Be Free from Worry

Freedom from worry is a reality, and the basis for such a state comes not from a prescription drug or from a cushioned life. God’s all-encompassing love secures your freedom and my freedom from worry.

Worrying is bad. It’s never healthy, so stop believing that. Stop with the excuse of defining yourself as a worrier. There is no place in Scripture that God defines you as a worrier in Christ. Warrior, yes. Worrier, no.

Worrying chokes the work of salvation in your life. Jesus told the parable of the sower and said the seed that fell among the thorns never had a chance to produce. He likened that seed to the truth of God’s Word falling upon a worrier’s heart and mind. Hashtag, unfruitful. You don’t want that final assessment upon your life, and neither do I. (See Matthew 13:1-23.)

In teaching the realities of the kingdom of God, Jesus told His hearers, “Do not worry” (Matthew 6:25). He emphasized the unproductive state of mind, not just once but five times. Repetition is the best teaching method, and this topic requires highlighting pounding if we’re going to go forth in freedom.

So let’s pound this out!

The truth about your surrendered life is this: Nothing will be able to separate you “from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). So, through your identity as a child of God, the assurance you have from the Father is because you have believed upon His Son, you are afforded presence, and not just any presence.

“If you love Me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17).

So, we say with the psalmist, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6). And this brings us to the point of discovering the root of worry. It’s easy to identify concerns that lead to worry; it’s harder digging out the root cause, namely, a fear of abandonment, failure, or death.

Think about it: why do you worry for your kids or your grandkids except that you believe they will fail or  potentially will be unsafe and perhaps die? Why do you worry over relationships except that in the end you fear abandonment? And why do you worry over finances except that you know little income or poor financial management could lead to loss and failure? These are but a few examples of worry stemming from core fears common to man.

Here’s a truth that requires our full acknowledgement: We make many decisions based on fear. I wish I could say it ends there, but the ripple effect of maligned thinking produces messy results, and our lives get more complicated than necessary. Do you see why Jesus pounded the truth that in God’s kingdom there’s no room for worrying?

Consider the fear Peter confronted and responded to when Jesus was arrested. Keep in mind that Peter heard the Lord counsel them to have a sword for what they were about to encounter. After Jesus and the twelve finished the Passover meal, “He said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: “And He was numbered with the transgressors”, and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in Me. Yes, what is written about Me is reaching its fulfillment'” (Luke 22:36-37). The disciples presented two swords which satisfied Jesus.

Following the meal, Jesus and the disciples went as usual to the Garden of Gethsemane. After He engaged the Father in an intense time of prayer, Jesus readied Himself for the betrayal that was to come. Peter also readied himself by wielding the sword upon one of the temple servants making Jesus’ arrest. Interestingly, Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword back in its place… for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).

So, which is it? Did the disciples need a sword or not need a sword? Did Jesus just contradict Himself? Hardly! He knew what was beyond the betrayal, arrest, and suffering. Jesus was hours from dying, and His death immediately would bring something the disciples had not experienced over the past few years of following Him- separation. Sure, we know it’s Friday but Sunday is coming, but the disciples did not have the Lord’s pending resurrection on their radar. In the two days of separation from their Lord, they would know fear. Their Master died; surely, they saw their own deaths as imminent. With Jesus absent, perhaps a sword or two present would warrant a greater sense of security.

Do you identity with the feeling of vulnerability that the disciples undoubtedly faced? Do you wonder if you and your family are truly safe? Do you fear having sufficient means to face tomorrow’s uncertainties? Do you worry that a state of abandonment will be the death of you? Do you have a white-knuckled grip on a sword or some material substance like a bank account? Are you gripping onto an ideal that because you successfully employed every resource money can buy that you are protected? Are you tight- fisted on some fountain of youth promise because you fear the results of age will leave you unattractive and unwanted?

Fear. Worry. How am I going to protect myself? 

The disciples had two swords while holed up in a room fearing for their lives. But the point Jesus made in suggesting the swords is that He was about to be away from them. While He is with them, they are safe. Allow these words to wash over your soul:

While Jesus is with you, you are safe.

You see, in Gethsemane, at the time of His arrest, Jesus was with the disciples, so their self-protection was unnecessary. After Jesus reprimanded Peter for using the sword to harm a man, He said, “Do you not think that I can call on my Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). We know that Jesus never would have disobeyed the Father and escaped fulfilling the needed salvation for sinful humanity, but the principle to grasp here is the supernatural protection that accompanies Him– twelve legions of angels can fill a Texas football stadium! We’re talking sixty to seventy thousand! Child of God, that’s an inconceivable throng of protection for all of us who are hidden in Christ! He is the God of the Angel Armies! When you have Jesus with you, you have all of heaven’s resources with you as well! 

Why would I bring life to fears through worry? Why would I grasp onto meager resources when the reality of heaven is I am well defended in every situation? Jesus is with me, even better- in me! “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).

You are not to live a life plagued by worry because you can put your confidence in God’s unfailing love. He takes care of you infinitely more than you could ever take care of yourself!

These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence (1 Corinthians 10:11-12, MSG).

What Is Your Sense of Safety on a Scale of 1 – 10?

I caught a short news segment this morning about the Super Bowl preparations this week in Houston, and safety is the buzz word.

Isn’t safety a concern every day and everywhere? While terror threatens people all around the world, we look for ways to promote our personal and communal security.

As soon as my family and I moved last month, I realized that gone are the sounds of the fishing boats’ diesel engines and come is the daily buzzing of a nearby army base’s helicopters. I hear them day and night. I wrote this in my journal concerning our new environment:

In the same way the helicopters hover and see from above, so You hover and see all and protect me. You are always alert and active.

Then I read a quick devotional spotlighting the same theme of safety:

“My Presence watches over you continually, protecting you from both known and unknown dangers. Entrust yourself to My watchcare, which is the best security system available. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.“1

Beautiful! How can His child not respond with a resounding YES! God, You are who You say You are, and You do what You say You do!

“… In God I trust; I will not be afraid” (Psalm 56:4).

1 Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011. Pg. 32.

Are You the Agreeable Type?

Batah (Hebrew): to attach oneself, trust, confide in, feel safe, be confident, secure. The basic idea signifies firmness or solidity. Denotes a confident expectation.1

Studying this term today I realize afresh that God is completely confident in me; He’s completely confident in you.

Now before you reject the notion of God’s confidence in mere man, hear me out. When He calls, He equips. The Father equips the called with Himself, and he has a perfect record of success.

Of course, you are lacking in areas; you’re under skilled to do what you have before you to do, but He is with you. You are qualified. Period. He. Is. With. You.

Moses disagreed with God. He heard the call clearly, but he couldn’t understand how he could be the one to lead the Hebrews out of captivity. Moses argued his points of being an exile and a shepherd, not one people would listen to, not certain of Whom he was representing, not believable, slow of speech, and not the best choice. But I love my Father’s point right from the beginning of Moses’ resistance: I will be with you (Exodus 3:12).

This year is a year of change. I’m writing this post to myself. I’m done doubting. If God places it upon my heart, I’m going forth in faith. The results are upon Him. My part is to make agreement with Him. He is more than capable, and He has confident expectation- in Himself. And He is with me.

He is with you, dear child. Just make agreement and move forward.

1 Lexical Aids to the Old Testament. Portions taken from: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1980.

 

The America I Want

Friends,

We have taken the bait and we’ve become divided as a nation. God help us and heal us because we are weak in our distorted viewpoint.

The America you want is not the America you see, OR the America you want is on the horizon. While one laments, another rejoices. There’s only one common factor here- America.

Perhaps like you, I have been overwhelmed to tears by the grace of God choosing that I would be born in a nation so great as America. Freedom is truly beautiful; freedom is freeing!

And, perhaps like you, I have celebrated with friends who took an oath to become a naturalized citizen of our nation. Freedom is attractive.

Freedom knows no limitations except those which we place upon ourselves. Think about that, because there are legitimate and illegitimate purposes to those limitations.

I don’t hold an unfavorable opinion of you if you voted differently than I did. (You wouldn’t care if I did, anyway. What does my opinion matter? You are not dependent upon man’s approval, and neither am I.)

But let us come to a conclusion… What I value as a Jesus-follower, as the wife of a small business owner, and as a mother of two college students, may not be what you value, and that’s okay. What you value drives your pursuits and support of various institutions, and that’s okay.

Perhaps it’s naive to think that we can still have unity as Americans, but I keep moving toward that goal. Isn’t that the wonderful ideal of this nation? You can think your thoughts and act upon them within the realm of your constitutional rights!

So how do we participate in the democratic process and maintain civility with our neighbors? We definitely make our voices heard– only we direct our voices to the appropriate sources.

First, to God, if you are a person of faith; for He is sovereign over all, yet He also cares for your soul. Everything that affects you spiritually, emotionally, relationally, physically, daily- it all concerns Him, so talk to the Father in heaven about it often.

Secondly, take your political concerns to the source. Within weeks of Obama going to the White House, I went to the website’s correspondence link and shared my thoughts about his proposed entitlements. 4995 words later, I had spoken my peace. (Yes, I remember that total as 5000 was the word limit!)

Call your local, state and federal elected officials concerning issues pertaining to their respective jurisdictions. They want to hear from you. And, if so inspired, run for one of these seats. You have passion, and you have worthy things to bring to the table of governmental leadership.

Let’s do our land a huge favor and stop attacking one another. You will not convince me to change my mind, nor will I convince you. We have decided our positions in accordance with our conscience.

If you’re unhappy with President Trump, I understand. After previous elections I suffered much frustration, shock and sometimes disillusionment. I’ve had grave concerns for the future while watching things go down in other lands and knowing the dark mission was to bring the same terror to our nation. I talked to my kids and told them that when faced with a choice to denounce Christ and be spared or die by sword, God’s grace will carry you into His presence in that moment. Yes, I’m speaking of those kinds of talks based on the reality that we may not all die a natural death. So if you carry concern about what is to come, you’re not alone. Hold on and pray through. There’ll be another election soon.

say good-bye to excuses

We must self- examine our tendency to justify our decisions.

sharing love and truth

Get ready, Sharing Love and Truth readers! Today we’re saying good-bye to our excuses!

Photo Credit: drewleavy via Compfight cc Photo Credit: drewleavy via Compfightcc

Let’s be real: We make excuses to ourselves; we make excuses to others, and we make excuses to God. Oftentimes, the excuses we make to ourselves are in the form of justification. We seek to justify our attitudes, words and actions in an effort to cleanse the conscience. And let me tell you something: you can justify anything you want to so your little mind is at ease.

Using your rationale, you can justify a deliberate offense against your own body, against others, and against God. We do it when we fall to temptation to lust, to overindulge, to be lazy, and to let our emotions control us. We often will employ justification when we make decisions concerning our use of money.

Anytime we compromise the truth and present our…

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Keeping Focused

After a full day of Christmas shopping with friends at Richmond’s Bizarre Bizaar, I definitely can attest to the real struggle of remaining focused on the purity of Christmas. At this time of year, Christians worldwide remember the reason for our hope: Jesus came into the world in human flesh, lived a sinless life, was crucified, died and resurrected on the third day. The most valuable gift in all the universe- the promise to forever know the presence of God, His love and acceptance- has been granted through faith in Jesus Christ having shed His blood for the payment of the sin of humanity.

I am an eternally blessed woman for having believed, and I pray that my desire for knowing God will stir a hunger for others to know Him as the Lover of their soul. That is my Christmas wish, and I must work at keeping focused, for the pull of commercialism is strong, my Friend!

I placed beautiful scripture cards written by the talented Alexandra Rutkowski on some of the Christmas tree limbs. May I remember truth and continue to reflect on the goodness of my God this Christmas and always.

May your Christmas season be full of heartfelt celebration bringing honor to our King!

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