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Simply Receive

While I was reading Psalm 116 this morning, verse 12 jumped out at me.  It asks “How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?”  It’s a good question.  How do you repay someone who has given you something in excess of your ability to pay?  How do you repay such a good God for being who He is?

When I read the next verse it seemed like it was changing topics because it was talking about lifting the cup of salvation.  So I looked up lift, cup, and salvation in the Strong’s.  Here’s what I found:

Lift (H5375) can mean to accept, take, lift…etc…

Cup (H3583) is from a root that means to hold together.  It means container (cup).  Figuratively it refers to a portion or lot.

Salvation (H3444) is Yeshûw’âh.  It means the whole package of deliverance:  deliverance, victory, prosperity, aid, help, health, salvation and welfare.  It is everything that Jesus died to give us.

I added this all together…. Willingly accept the whole container of salvation is how you repay the Lord’s goodness.  I pondered this because it doesn’t seem good enough to me.

So, I asked Him, “How do I repay Your goodness, Lord?”

His answer,  “By accepting it.”

The truth is usually much simpler than we make it out to be.

 

Musical Monday-Dream for You

Today’s encouraging Musical Monday song is Dream for You by Casting Crowns.

Your plans for the future might be good but God’s are bigger and better.  Trust me on this.  For the past year, God has been taking my little itty bity dreams and plans and showing me His version for me.  Let me tell you, even with my stellar imagination, God’s creative powers are vastly superior to mine!

No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.”  I Corinthians 2:9 MSG

This scripture has been proven again and again in my life this year as I seek to partner with Him in all He has for me.  Knowing that God believes that I am capable of achieving these dreams in partnership with Him, has not only bolstered my confidence and made me want to take risks, it’s allowed me to let go of the things that have been holding me back.

One by one I’ve been laying waste to every single back up plan I’ve ever had and moving forward in what God has for me.  Is it scary?  Yes.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  I’ve never been happier or more excited in my life.

PS:  I know the details what God’s doing in my life have been vague.  Sorry, but that is on purpose.  I have a policy that I don’t share what’s going on in my life with everyone until I have victory in it.  I do share it with people who are prayer partnering with me.  Specific people the Lord has put in my life for this purpose.

With social media and such it’s easy to put every single bad day, bad mood and negative thing in your life out for the world to comment on.  I do not do this.  I will not do this.  Like David, I take my emotions and situations and vent them to the Lord and a grand total of 2 other people.  Two people who I trust to not let me get away with wallowing.  Two people who intercede for me like I intercede for them.  The information that goes out to everyone else is filtered.  It has to be.

My goal in this blog and in everything else I do is to encourage people.  Most of you know exactly what you’ve done wrong and your issues.  You don’t need me for that. What you do need is someone to remind you who God says you are, and that you are deeply loved.  It is not too late to start making good choices.  God is for you not against you.  Just like God has big plans and dreams for me, He has them for you too.  Yours will be vastly different from mine because we are two completely different people with different gifts and talents.  I want to see you be the best you that you can be!!!

And I promise you this, when victory comes in the situations and circumstances I am facing.  You and everyone else will hear what the Lord has done for me.  Until then it is encouragement all day every day!

All In

Perception is everything.  What you believe matters.  What you believe about yourself determines how you allow others to treat you and how you behave.  What you believe about yourself and God will determine your relationship with Him.  What you believe about God determines whether or not you are willing to have faith in, commit to, and trust Him.  If you don’t believe God is good and that God loves you, you will be unable to trust that He works all things out for your good.  If you are unable to fully trust Him, you’ll never commit to go all in.

It can be scary to go all in.  You may have doubts.  You may not fully understand.  Think about Mary when she was visited by the angel Gabriel.  She was confused and did not fully understand what he was telling her.  But she did believe that God was good and she trusted Him. So despite her doubt, Mary went all in.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.  “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.  And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.  For the word of God will never fail.”” Luke 1:26-37 NLT

Mary could have heard what the angel had to say, and dismissed him.  She could looked at teenage self and said, “Yeah right.”  She could have listened to her doubts and refused to believe that this was possible.  She could have missed being the mother of the Savior, the Messiah, if she chose not to believe.

But Mary did not miss what God had for her, because she chose to go all in.  No back up plan.  No rationalizations.  No strategies.  Just belief.  “Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.””  Luke 1:38

You alone choose what you believe.  No one, not even God Himself, can make that choice for you.  Mary chose to believe, and she gave birth to the Savior.  What will you be capable of if you choose to believe God and go all in?

You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.”  Luke 1:45 NLT

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”” II Corinthians 2:9 NLT

“So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.” Hebrews 6:18 NLT

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”  Matthew 19:26 NLT (Verse also found in Mark 10:27 and Luke 18:27).

Musical Monday-Out of Hiding

The Parable of the Talents is found in Matthew 25:14-30.  You’ve probably heard it or read it.  Mostly it’s about stewardship of money and other things that are in your hands.  But today when I was listening to Out of Hiding by Steffany Gretzinger I had a different perspective on it.

This “unprofitable” servant looked around and could plainly see the gifts and abilities in others.  But either could not see them in himself, or felt he was inferior to those already using talents similar to his.

Maybe he had a brilliant business idea, but had seen others around him fail.  So he hid the talent.

Maybe he was an artist and wanted to invest in a creative venture, but feared failure.  So he hid the talent rather than lose it.

Maybe he was a writer and wanted to use it to publish his book, but feared failure.  So he hid the talent.

Maybe he had failed before and didn’t want to fail again.  So he hid the talent.

Maybe no one believed in him before the master did.  So he didn’t believe in himself, and buried the talent deep.

Maybe people told him he was stupid and his ideas were stupid.  So he didn’t even try, he buried his talent.

Here’s the Parable of the Talents in the Message translation:

“It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.

“After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

“The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

“The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

“‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. (MSG)

Don’t be like the unprofitable servant and bury your gifts, talents, and abilities. Take a risk.  Try.  Believe in yourself. Come out of hiding!

Not Moved By Circumstances

There’s a difference between knowing in your head that God’s able to be your rock, salvation, defense, provision, refuge, strength, and etc. . . and standing firm in that knowledge no matter what your circumstances look like.  I turn to the Psalms a majority of the time when I am stressed out or my circumstances are not so hot.  David went through a lot of trials and he is a good example on how to vent your emotions and then declare what the Lord says over your circumstances.  David also shows us how not to be swayed in the wind by every single thing that happens to us and around us.  Even when the thing happening to us originated with someone close to us.

Here is the first two verses of Psalm 62:

Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.” (NKJV)

The I shall not be “greatly” moved, to me, is like saying I am really bothered by this but I will not let it wreck me.  It’s the knowing in your head that God is for you.  Biblical scholars believe that King David wrote Psalm 62 during the time of his son Absalom’s rebellion (Beginning in II Samuel 15).  I can see how the first few verses could be written during the events of II Samuel 15:13-14:

Now a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.”  So David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, or we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword.” (NKJV)

This beginning of this Psalm is David’s way of convincing himself that God is still for him and not against him.  It’s David remembering what God had done and in his head asking, “God’s still for me, right?”

Later in II Samuel 15:25-29, David tests that theory by sending the Ark of Covenant back to Jerusalem.

Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. But if He says thus: ‘I have no delight in you,’ here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.”  The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.  See, I will wait in the plains of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” Therefore Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem. And they remained there.” (NKJV)

It is then, I believe that David chose to stand and declare “I WILL WAIT RIGHT HERE FOR THE LORD AND I WILL NOT BE MOVED BY THIS!”  It’s when his head knowledge became practical and he decided to stand no matter what.  Believing that God would defend him.  Then David wrote verses 5-7:

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.” (NKJV)

David continued on with verse 8, reminding all of us that we can fully trust God at all times.  No matter the circumstances.

“Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.” (NKJV)

God did deliver David from Absalom’s rebellion and he continued to rule the people for the rest of his life.

On the Potter’s Wheel

Unending love + Unlimited patience = God not giving up on you! Your failures, mistakes, and brokenness do not disqualify you from a good future. He will continue to stand by you until you are whole, see your value, and find your place.

“So I went down to the potter’s house & I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” Jeremiah 18:3-4 NIV

I Shall Not Be Moved

I know that I haven’t done Musical Monday in a while, so today I’m going to give you a two-fer.  One is old school and the other is a few years old and my on-going theme song.

Old school classic:  I Shall Not Be Moved sung by Mr. Johnny Cash.

This song is sourced from Psalm 1 and/or Jeremiah 17 (which quotes Psalm 1). Biblical scholars believe that this Psalm was written to Rehoboam from his father, Solomon, as he was about to succeed him as king.  It warns Rehoboam to choose God’s way, and what will most likely happen to him if he does not.  Solomon had been led astray by several of his wives and he did not want his son to repeat his errors.

I am a big fan of the Prophet Jeremiah’s flare so here’s Jeremiah 17:5-8 NKJV:

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

Your bonus song is my theme song.  I know I’ve posted it before, but like I said, it’s my theme song.  So here is the lovely Ms. Natalie Grant singing I Will Not Be Moved.

Like everything else, you choose how you react to things.  Choose to be still and know that He is God, even if Monday is attempting to take you down.  Choose to remain planted in His promises.

Love, like fashion, is a choice.

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”  Colossians 3:14 NLT

Every day you go to your dressers, closets, or wardrobes and choose something to wear.  It is the same with love.  God’s love is there every day, but you choose whether or not you receive it.  There are people around you every day, and you have the choice whether or not you will love them.

Love is not a feeling.  Love is an action verb.  Love, like fashion, is a choice.

Just like you are the one who decides to put on a tie with your shirt or scarf with your outfit, you choose to wear love every day.  You are in control of how you treat the people who annoy you, entertain you, need you, boss you, care about you, or happen to pass by you in the hall every day.  You can choose to blow up.  You can choose to be rude.  You can choose to be unkind.  Or you can choose to react in love.  So love, like fashion is a choice.

God, The Creator, designed love to be worn every day.  Will you choose to clothe yourselves in this ultimate fashion accessory every morning?

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 NLT

God loves you. He made you on purpose for a purpose and gave you the measure of faith you will need. Don’t compare yourself or your purpose to anyone else.

Comparison is a thief that will steal your joy, and therefore depletes your strength, as much of our strength comes from joy. In addition will do one of two things: puff you with feelings of superiority or deflate you with feelings of worthlessness.

If you see yourself as less than, you may not bother doing your best. You may not even try. You may think it brilliant to be a carbon copy of someone else. Your love for others may be replaced with envy and jealously or even loathing and hatred.

God wants you to stop trying to be someone else! You have value. You are loved. Your identity is in Him. He made you with care so that He can love you. He needs you to be you because you are vital and important, even if it doesn’t feel that way. The world needs what you have inside you.

If you are feeling superior because of your gifts, abilities, or position you are in danger of being puffed up with vanity and pride. Being puffed up steals your love for others and separates you from people. You may begin to speak condescendingly.  You may feel entitled.  You may begin to treat people poorly.

God wants you to know that He loves you and values you. He made you with care so He could love you. He entrusted you with these gifts to be a blessing, not to lord yourself over people. You need what is in others just as much as they need you.

Let God love you. Receive it so you can love God in return. The next step is to learn who you are in Him, therefore learning to love yourself properly and in balance. Then you are able to love others as you love yourself as Jesus commanded in Matthew 22:37-40

There’s a reason I Corinthians 13 (AKA the love chapter) is sandwiched between two chapters on gifts and abilities. Comparison is the thief of joy and the opposite of love.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” I Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT

I will leave you with this…

Jesus never once compared Himself to anyone, nor did He say to any disciple, “Why can’t you be more like so and so?” God values us individually but created us to be a unified family. Comparison is a destroyer of unity in the family, as much as it is the thief of joy.

Work-Rest Balance

I know few people who really get the work-rest balance. I know I struggle with it at times. I either work until I drop or tune out and be completely and utterly lazy. But that is not the example God provides, nor the example Jesus provides.

We are made in the image of Elohim, the Great God of Creation. He is imagination and creativity.  Genesis 1 and 2 are the example Elohim gave us.  God said, then He saw, and then He said it was good.  He finished what He started.  Then He rested.  God understands the importance of rest.  Not laziness.  Not work avoidance.  But true rest.

And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”  Genesis 2:2-3 NKJV

Jesus also understood the work-rest balance, even in the midst of people continually hounding Him.  His example can be found in Luke 9:10-18.  Jesus had taken the disciples to a place of solitude to rest after all that they had been doing.  But the crowds found him.  Jesus had compassion on the crowds, and fed the five thousand + people both spiritually and physically.  This means He did not blow up at the people who needed Him, or were seeking Him out.  He tended to them, and then went off alone to recharge.  In verse 18, we find that Jesus has left the crowds again.

And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him…

Jesus understood that He had to be recharged by time with the Father.  It was the only way He would be able to have anything to give His disciples and the people that they were ministering to.  Jesus took time to Himself to spend with God, even though He was continually sought out.  This tells me that, like Jesus, we NEED time to recharge in order to be at our best.

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Jesus is both our example and our Shepherd.  Psalm 23 tells us that our Shepherd leads us to peace and rest, even when times are hardest.

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.”  NLT

The point is that God blesses the work of our hands and He also blesses a day of rest.  Balance helps you stay healthy and strong.  It makes you better at work and better with people.

Happy Labor Day!