Home » 2014 (Page 2)
Yearly Archives: 2014
When someone gives you a gift, just accept it and say, “Thank you.” It’s really not a difficult concept. But when receiving from God, I still tend to struggle with this. I feel as though I need to clean up my own mess and earn God’s help. That is the definition of religion, people trying to impress God with what they do and to make themselves worthy of God’s notice.
Well if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this; God already loves you as much as He’s ever going to. Do you know why that is? Because He already loves you completely and unconditionally. What you do or not do doesn’t change the love He has for you. He’s a good God who wants to bless people and enjoys giving good gifts.
The story that kept popping up to me was the story of God giving Naaman a gift. It’s found in II Kings 5. Naaman was a great Aramean warrior, who was beloved by his king, and also happened to also to be a leper. Naaman’s wife had a maid from Israel, who told Naaman that she knew of a prophet who could heal him. So Naaman went to Elisha’s house. Here’s the story beginning in verse 9 and going through verse 16.
“So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”
But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.
But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!
Then Naaman and his entire party went back to find the man of God. They stood before him, and Naaman said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
But Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept any gifts.” And though Naaman urged him to take the gift, Elisha refused.”
Naaman’s pride said, “That’s it??? There must be more than simply bathing in a dirty river? This can’t be right. Shouldn’t there be some sort of ritual or cost involved.” But there wasn’t. God simply required Naaman to believe, then He healed him. Naaman was the leader of the army that had just defeated his people in battle. Yet still God loved him. Yet God healed him without expecting anything in return. That’s the goodness and giving nature of God.
This just blows my mind.
Today is a random pondering day for me. I’m thinking about the change and why I love to hate it. I’m sure you’ve heard the quote by Heraclitus of Ephesus,”The only thing that is constant is change.”
He also said, “Everything changes and nothing stands still. You could not step twice in the same river; for other waters are ever flowing onto you.”
It’s why I love photography so much. Capturing a moment in time and preserving it forever. A baby’s first smile or steps. Your childhood best friends who you swear will always be there. A flower in full bloom or that ever flowing river that will never be the same again.
The danger is holding so tight to those moments that we get stuck and refuse to move forward. I can’t ever get yesterday back. I can’t stop my nieces and nephews from getting taller than me or my grandparents from aging. There are times I want to go back and relive moments and times when I want to go back with a giant eraser. But I can’t. None of us can.
All we can do is find a balance of taking the memories with us but not letting them paralyze us from embracing the new day we are in right now.
I like the quote by W.Somerset Maugham, “Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.”
Embrace every day and every new season. Be all in. That’s my goal right now. To really live, not to just exist. Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly. He didn’t come so we could just survive.
I know I’m all over the place but it’s where I am right now. I’m in a time of serious transition. I don’t have any idea what will happen tomorrow. Hence my quoting of quotes and rambling. I feel like I’ve been in a season of constant motion. I feel like I’ve got motion sickness and the speed of which the days and weeks are rolling by are making me dizzy with a tinge of nausea. I feel like I spend so much time trying not to fall down and figure everything out that I’m wasting these precious days I should be living to their fullest. I feel like a fan, vacillating back and forth between fear of failure and fear of missing out on what my life could have been.
That being said, here’s a change quote from me…”There are two constants in this life;one is change and the other is a God who doesn’t.” -Jill Nicholson
I have to keep reminding myself that I can rely on God to constantly love me every day. He loves me whether I’m embracing life that day or I spent it sitting on the couch with my knees pulled up sobbing. I can trust that He is the same every day. He is forever faithful and keeps His word. I need those reminders daily lately, because all my safety nets are gone now. I have the words God gave me and the promises. That’s it. And it’s scarier than vampire clowns to someone who has grown accustomed to schedules and routines.
I have always trusted God in theory. I mean He’s done some spectacular things through random and ordinary people. I know he can do anything. But I also know me. I tend to be like that ever changing river that flows down the easiest path. I’m not a fan of mountains or climbing. I like the view but the risk of the fall vs the spectacular view…well I choose to purchase the photo of the view from someone who was crazy enough to climb said mountain.
Do you know what happens when you trust God only in theory? He tests your theory. When God tests your theory, He proves it beyond any doubt. I’m witnessing with my own eyes how faithful He is. I am experiencing what peace in chaos actually feels like. (FYI it’s awesome) So while I still have no idea what will happen tomorrow or how all the chaos in my life will be worked out. I know that it will be worked out for my good, because that is the God I serve and love. He does not change. He is always faithful. He is always trustworthy. He always loves and reacts in love.
This is what I am telling myself today. Change is constant. But so is God.
“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” Numbers 23:19 NLT
“I am the Lord,and I do not change.” Malachi 3:6 NLT
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NLT
Generally when I ask people how they are they reply, “Busy.” or “Tired.” We are a society of busy and tired. We all have obligations competing for our attention. I know I do! But when I take time in the morning to focus on hearing what Holy Spirit has to say, I find it easier to prioritize. I get more accomplished in my day than if I skip God time.
Crazy Kicks In by Francesca Battistelli is a fun reminder to keep God first.
You never know what kind of gem you’ll get in your God time. Maybe it will be encouragement. Maybe it will be a solution for something you’ve been unable to figure out. Maybe it will be something that makes you laugh and keeps your day joy filled. Maybe it will be a business strategy that changes everything for you. Maybe it will be a verse or a word that will encourage someone you’ll encounter that day.
When you show up expecting, He’ll show up too. No games or tricks. Just a promise that when you seek, you’ll find.
“In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Jeremiah 29:12-13 NLT
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.
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!
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).
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!