How’s your hearing? Your sight?

How's your hearing 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 20:12 (NLT)
Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the LORD.

I can see a beautiful, early morning snowfall outside my window. Steady. No wind. Blanketing the ground and accumulating perfectly on the trees and rooftops. Stunning. I am grateful today for my eyes and the ability to see all that surrounds me.

Yesterday, I was listening to a new worship project. It was really, really good. I get to do that as part of the work I do. It’s a privilege and I am so thankful to be able to hear good music and occasionally even great music. And, I am even grateful for the ability to hear and not enjoy music that isn’t so wonderful!

Yes. Ears to hear and eyes to see are both tremendous gifts and blessings from God. Today, I am encouraged to ramp up my awareness of these simple, significant gifts. To acknowledge the Giver and His goodness. More consistently.

There’s another dimension of hearing and seeing that is ours, too. An amazing gift from our Father…part of our new life in Christ. Beyond the physical. Beyond the obvious. A progression over time. Things changing, being made new, and renewed in us begin to change us. One of the best indicators is how we see and hear things differently than we did before. [Read more…]

Making the Swap – Choosing the Sweet

Proverbs 27:7
A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.

Did you ever look at a friend who wasn’t being treated well in a relationship – and knew it – and wonder why that friend kept taking the kind of treatment she was receiving? Maybe her boyfriend was a cheater. Maybe he was cruel in some way. Maybe he ignored her. Whatever the hurtful behavior…it was bad; and, she stayed in it. You just couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t break it off and move on.

How about a friend who had some sort of life-damaging issue, addiction, or behavior? An eating disorder, promiscuity, hoarding, self-harm, drug use, isolation?

Ever find yourself focusing on the negative about yourself, life, or someone else to the point that it is almost impossible to see anything else?

I remember seeing a news clip probably 20+ years ago when Robert Downey, Jr. was being sentenced AGAIN for drug issues. This brilliant, talented, valuable man said the most heart-breaking, tortured thing. “It’s like I have a gun in my mouth and my finger’s on the trigger and I like the taste of metal.”

We’ve all done the same in one way or another. Because of some need or deficit – some hunger in our lives, we learned to eat the bitter until it tasted normal or sweet to us. The danger is two-fold. We establish an appetite for the bitter and unfulfilling. And because it cannot satisfy, our appetite for it increases and we eat more and more while remaining forever hungry in that area.

I will occasionally see articles on the internet aimed at helping us make better food choices. They’re called, “Eat This, Not That.” The premise of the articles and website is to do “swaps.” Instead of “that” choice at the grocery store, restaurant, salad bar, etc., choose “this” better thing that will be good for you and taste wonderful.

Maybe we’re eating self-pity, loneliness, judgmental and critical thoughts and conversations, feelings of inferiority and unworthiness, offense and hurt, envy, jealousy, strife and arguing, shame and guilt, resentment, condemnation…the list goes on. Let’s get our fingers off the trigger and the metal out of our mouths. We need to belly-up-to-the-bar and have a heaping helping of who we are in Christ and the crazy sweet love of God. We need to get so full of “this” we cannot imagine eating another bite of “that.”

  • Your love, Lord, is priceless and unfailing and doesn’t discriminate (Psalm 36:7
  • I am the temple of God and I meditate on His unfailing love (2 Corinthians 6:16, Psalm 48:9)
  • His love for me reaches from earth to the heavens and His faithfulness to the skies (Psalm 36:5)
  • I flourish in God and trust in His unfailing love forever and ever (Psalm 52:8)
  • You, Lord, are compassionate and gracious, not angry with me and your love and faithfulness for me is HUGE! (Psalm 86:15, Isaiah 43:25, Hebrews 8:12, Hebrews 10:17)
  • Nothing can stop Your love for me (Romans 8:35-39)
  • Your love for me will never end (Psalm 136:26
  • You love me and are delighted with me (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • Knowing You love me so much brings peace and quiet inside me (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • You love me so much, You sing over me – with joy and celebration (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • You are with me and because You love me, You bring Your strength and power to save me (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • Your great loving-kindness compels me into closeness and intimacy with you (Jeremiah 31:3)
  • You don’t love me because of anything I’ve done to earn or deserve it – You love me just because You love me. Just because You are Love (Titus 3:4-5)
  • Because You love me, Father, You sent Jesus for me. Through Him, who I am is completely different than who I was or who I could ever be without Him (John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • I am God’s child (John 1:12)
  • I am God’s friend (John 15:15)
  • I am justified and righteous through no merit, works, or effort of my own (Romans 5:1)
  • I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19)
  • I am the temple of the Holy Spirit – He lives in me (1 Corinthians 6:19)
  • I have been chosen by God, adopted by God, and His grace is lavished on me (Ephesians 1:3-8)
  • I am forgiven and redeemed (Colossians 1:13-14)
  • I am complete in Christ with all of His fullness in me (Colossians 2:9-10)
  • I am not condemned (Romans 8:1)
  • I am secure – no matter what – in His love (Romans 8:31-39)
  • I am secure in my place in Him and His place in me. I don’t have to wonder (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

[Read more…]

We Have His Word On It!

God keeps His promises

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 30:5
Every word of God proves true,
 He is a shield to all who come to Him for protection.

 

It seems like politicians make a long list of promises before we elect them and then have a longer list (generally blaming someone or something else) later about why they couldn’t fulfill their promises.

Divorce court is the place to finalize the brokenness of “forever” promises between husbands and wives.

In a world of cheap promises and meaningless words, the solidity and veracity of God’s Word and how clearly it reveals His character continues to breathe fresh life into this new life in Christ. I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and He made me new. As a “new creature” because I am now “in Christ,” the Word says that old things are passed away (dead) and all things have been made new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

It is through the Word that I hear the wisdom and instruction of the Lord on how to live this new life. The new person I am cannot function in the deadness of the person that I was. The Word gives us the history of our new family, the way our new family and each of its members should operate as representatives and ambassadors of this new life, and clear instruction and correction to get there – and most of all reveals the love and heart of God towards us…His children.

2 Peter 1:3 (NLT)
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.

When we come to know Him – through His Word and through His Spirit bringing His Word to life in us, the new life in Christ becomes HD…High Definition. It is clear and it is beautiful and limitless in the ways God’s love can be expressed in our lives. Jesus said that if we are alive in Him and His Word is alive in us, we can ask God for anything and receive it. (John 15:7) Pretty bold stuff! Jesus said it…so it’s true. But, how? Especially when it doesn’t seem to be showing up that way…

We became alive in Him when we received Him and became believers or Christ followers. That didn’t take any effort on our part other than believing and acceptance. Done. For the word to become alive in us, we have to hear it, read it, study it, seek Him in it. Receive its truth.

1 John 5:14-15 tells us that the confidence we have in Him is that if we ask ANYTHING according to His will, He hears us. And, when He hears us, we HAVE whatever we have petitioned Him for. Anything? Really??? ANYTHING????????? [Read more…]

Money, Money, Money

 money, money, money

 

Proverbs 23:4-5 (NLT)
Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich.
 Be wise enough to know when to quit.
 In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, 
for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle.

There’s nothing wrong with being rich. Nothing at all. There’s something quite wrong with wearing yourself out to get rich. It sounds good and noble to push and push that direction. It’s not. Why? We cannot count on money to make everything alright. To fix things. Or, to last forever. It is vitally important to put it in proper perspective. If our security or our trust is based on money, we will never be safe or satisfied.

Be wise. Be diligent. Plan ahead. Be well informed and smart about purchases and investments. Be the kind of employee or entrepreneur that is noticed and blessed for how you conduct your business affairs. All of that is good and admirable. BUT DON’T OBSESS AND GET ANXIOUS AND MAKE THE FINANCIAL REWARDS YOUR PRIMARY FOCUS.

In Matthew 13 and Mark 4, when Jesus is explaining the meaning of the parable of the sower, He talks about the third example of good seed bringing no harvest. The seed is the Word. In this case, the Word brings no harvest or benefit or blessing because of the thorns that “choke” the Word and it becomes “unfruitful.” The Truth of the Word – the message God has for His beloved children – is crowded out and doesn’t thrive or survive.

Why?

Cares. Anxieties. Distractions. Worry. The lure of wealth. The deceitfulness of riches
 (the lie that money and material things solve our problems and will make us happy). Desiring and focusing on other things more.

A scripture that is misquoted more often than it is quoted correctly is 1 Timothy 6:10.

1 Timothy 6:10 (NLT)
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

LOVE of money. Money isn’t the root of all kinds of evil. Loving it is. Some people, craving money, pierced themselves with many sorrows. Money isn’t evil and it isn’t the having it or not having it that is the problem. It is the craving of it. We bring sorrow on ourselves when it is our focus and obsession. Ever had any sorrows because of chasing or craving money? You’re not alone!

Having money doesn’t equal craving it or loving it. Not having money doesn’t equal NOT craving it or NOT loving it. In fact, the percentage of people without much money who crave and obsess about it is probably just as large or larger than those who have lots of money. IT ISN’T ABOUT THE MONEY. It’s all about the role it plays in our motivations, actions, focus and priorities. [Read more…]

Righteousness – Something to Shout About!

celebrate righteousness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 29:6 (NIV)
Evildoers are snared by their own sin,
 but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.

You know what I love about this verse? It is the second part that pertains to us. You know why? It is because WE ARE RIGHTEOUS!

2 Corinthians 5:21 – Jesus – Who had never known sin became sin so that we could become the righteousness of God through Him!

Philippians 3:9 – We don’t have to count on our own righteousness through what we do. Instead, we became righteous through faith in Christ! God’s way of making us right is through faith. Through receiving the finished work of the cross. The exchange of our sin for Christ’s righteousness.

Romans 5:1 – We’ve been made righteous and right with God through what Jesus has done for us; not through anything we’ve done for ourselves or for God.

Romans 4:24 – God declared Abraham righteous because of his faith and we are assured of the same. He counts us righteous if we believe in Him.

Romans 4:5 – We are declared and made righteous not because of any work or anything we do, but because of our faith in God.

We are righteous because of grace. The gift of grace. We couldn’t earn it to get it and we don’t earn it to keep it. Righteousness is ours. Given to us…by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The first part of Proverbs 29:6 talks about how sin is a trap and a snare. It is. But it doesn’t have to be for us. We’ve been made righteous. Because of that, sin isn’t our master…because of grace! (Romans 6:14)

That’s what we have to shout for joy about and to be glad about!!!

God is good and He adores us! Shout for joy!

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The Wisdom Walk

Proverbs 28:26 (NIV)
Those who trust in themselves are fools, 
but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

Proverbs 28:26 (AMP)
He who leans on, trusts in, and is confident of his own mind and heart is a (self-confident) fool, but he who walks in skillful and godly Wisdom shall be delivered.

I have yet to meet someone who feels strongly about something and yet is quite sure that they are wrong.

Including me…

We just do not quickly or easily admit we are wrong – even when we get pretty ample evidence. Often, as evidence begins to mount that we might have been wrong, we scurry to defend or justify our position. We blame it on wrong or inadequate information. Someone else’s action, manipulation, or influence.
 
Too many times in the past, I let my emotional response or what I thought I knew guide my decisions – and it didn’t work out well. Emotions and perceptions are not the basis for sound, wise decisions with predictably solid outcomes. Perceptions are so easily skewed. Emotions are so easily manipulated and quite fickle. FOR ALL OF US.

Remember the bad boy you thought you couldn’t live without? The trip you couldn’t miss that you couldn’t afford? The relationship that was ruined because of misunderstanding and both parties are still sure the other is totally wrong? The job that looked fabulous and turned out to be a nightmare? The house that was just perfect and turned out to be a money pit? That word bomb you had to detonate because you had to have the last word and the biggest word?

Think about the folks from different races, religions, tribes, nations, or political leanings that have allowed those different ways of being and seeing to lead them down horrific paths of destruction, hate, murder and even genocide. Have you ever talked to a racist? As astounding as it is, they really believe their stuff and believe it is right.

You know what we have in common with the obvious crazies? We really believe our stuff, too. Even when it isn’t working and we actually have ample evidence. It is hard to let go of what we FEEL and THINK. Even when it’s wrong. That’s why it’s called “foolish” to make our own emotions and perceptions the basis for our choices.

Thank God we don’t have to live that way if we don’t want to. Because He loves us so much, God didn’t leave us vulnerable to the shifting winds of our emotions. You have probably heard this, but we are not souls. We are spirits. Our spirit is who and what we are. We have a soul (mind, will and emotions) and we live in a body. But, our spirit is who we are. By and large, we are used to operating almost strictly by the dictates of our souls and not our spirits.

That’s where godly and skillful Wisdom comes in. As believers, we have free access to the wisdom of God and the mind of Christ. Given to us. (1 Corinthians 2:16, Proverbs 2:6, James 1:5, 1 Corinthians 1:24, Colossians 1:9) But, it doesn’t just automatically take over. We have to choose it. How?

ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WE NEED IT AND HE’S GOT IT

Lord, your thoughts and ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Lord, anything that seems wise in this world is foolish compared to Your wisdom. (I Corinthians 3:19)

All true wisdom and understanding comes from You, Lord. (Job 12:12-13)

ASK FOR WISDOM

Your Word says that if I lack wisdom, all I have to do is ask You for it and You give it generously. (James 1:5)

RECEIVE WISDOM

I am called by God and Jesus has been made the wisdom of God to me. (1 Corinthians 1:24)

In You, Lord, is all of the wealth of wisdom and understanding – insight into Your ways and purposes. When I seek You, I find that wisdom. (Colossians 2:3)

Sounds good, right? Now what?

Here are some practical ways to access and walk in the wisdom of God. I’m certainly not saying I am an expert at this – but, I am pressing in and pressing toward it!

Put significant importance on knowing more and more about God’s ways and thoughts by putting your thoughts and attention and appropriate time and focus in that direction. If you wanted to become really skilled at any other thing, you wouldn’t think it was unusual or a real burden to spend time learning what you needed to learn and practicing what you needed to be able to do. No different here.

One teacher gave the assignment to go through the book of Proverbs and make two lists. One of everything it says a fool or the foolish do and another of what it says the wise do. That gave me a whole lot to think about.

Here’s a little quick checklist of God-wisdom qualities to consider when you are wondering what to do…

According to James 3:17, the wisdom that comes from heaven is:

PURE – So, check my motives and my emotions
…see what is driving the decision.

PEACE-LOVING – Will this choice bring greater peace?


GENTLE AT ALL TIMES – Is this kind, amiable, caring?

WILLING TO YIELD TO OTHERS – What is in the best interest of others here?


FULL OF MERCY – Am I being compassionate even when someone has done wrong to me?


FULL OF GOOD DEEDS – What is the opportunity for me to do good for someone here?


SHOWING NO FAVORITISM – Is this impartial and not from a place of emotional preference
?

SINCERE – Is this genuine and without a personal agenda?

When I think of checklists, one of the things that comes to mind is how pilots have a checklist that they have to go through before they take off. Even if they’ve been flying for decades, they go through the checklist. Every trip. Every time. It is to insure that the plane is ready for a safe journey to the desired destination. Got a desired outcome? Want to get there safely? Well, before we take off, let’s go through the checklist!

Look at that list. It will tell you a lot about our Heavenly Father and His great love for us. It describes His thoughts and ways. How blessed are we that we belong to Him????

God is good and He adores us!

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Guard your heart…Here’s how.

guard your heart

 

THIS IS NOT POLITICAL. It is an analogy. A metaphor. An allegory. A illustration. Any of these things that strikes your fancy. But, it is not political. Ok?

“The first lesson is to never underestimate a threat, never underestimate an enemy, never ignore the signs of danger. We can’t assume the enemy will act in ways that are convenient for us. The enemy can surprise us. Israel will not fall asleep on its watch again.” – Benjamin Netanyahu

How many of us have fallen asleep on the watch over our hearts, minds and lives?

Know that we do have a serious enemy…satan.  (Btw, I purposely don’t capitalize his name.) This isn’t some playground bully. This is an enemy who wants to devour every good thing in our lives. His sole purpose is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Don’t underestimate or ignore that he really has plans and will do all he can to bring destruction of every kind.

1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)
 ~ Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

John 10:10 (NLT)
 ~ The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

But, you know what the super good news is? He’s just not powerful enough to accomplish his goals without our cooperation. The enemy needs us to get skeptical, lazy, offended, self-absorbed, distracted, or distrusting of God – asleep on our watch – to give him access to devour us.

I am determined to be inedible. Not fit for enemy consumption. Not a tasty morsel. If that evil punk or one of his minions tries to take a bite out of me, I want every taste to be so unpleasant and sickening that I quickly become unappetizing.

Sounds good. But, how?

James 4:7 (NLT) ~ 
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Again, sounds good. But, how?

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NLT
) ~ And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Most of us don’t think that we get angry very often. Almost all of us underestimate our readiness to be angry. Learn to recognize anger in all its disguises. Offense. Hurt. Disappointment. Impatience. Unforgiveness. It isn’t always evidenced by rage and shouting. In fact, it rarely is evidenced by outbursts and extreme behavior. It’s usually bubbling right under the surface – at the ready to feed on anything that inconveniences us, offends us, or hurts us. Give it control or sustain it…give a foothold to the devil.
[Read more…]

Seek Him. Find Him.

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  • I love all who love Me. Those who search will surely find Me. Proverbs 8:17 (NLT)
  • For whoever finds Me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. Proverbs 8:35 (NLT)

One of the things I love so much about the Lord is that He NEVER plays hard to get. Ever.

Did you ever play hide-and-seek with a very young child? They generally choose the obvious places to hide and aren’t very quiet while you “seek” for them. They giggle and wiggle and may have a foot or other body part hanging out in plain sight.

God brings it to a whole different level. While He tells us to seek Him… [Read more…]

Living Well

Live long and prosper!” ~Spock

I always loved it when Spock said that.

The problem is that he never really told us how to make that happen…

Dear Friend, do what I tell you, treasure my careful instructions. Do what I say and you’ll live well. My teaching is as precious as your eyesight – guard it! write it on your hands, etch it on your hands, etch it on your hearts. Proverbs 7:1-3

The more time I spend in the Word, thinking about it, meditating on what I discover about God and myself, getting clarity on how to apply what I study, and seeing the clear results and promises of being a doer of the Word (James), the more I treasure it. It is on purpose. Intentional. Active.

Shakespeare’s writings and plays captured my attention at a relatively young age. That probably slotted me right into some weird nerd status for some of you! I loved the beautiful prose. The clever dexterity of his writing. The wild ride of the repartee. I looked for and delighted in the subtle hidden wit, winks, and barbs. I enjoyed discussing what I read with others who were of like mind. I wasn’t a casual admirer.

I cannot be a casual admirer of the Word and begin to treasure it the way this and many, many other verses in the Bible instruct us to do. It begins with a quality decision to explore and continue exploring and to discover the precious and valuable gems and treasures inside. To hold them up to the light and become intimately familiar with them. [Read more…]

Give me eyes of GRACE…

Seven Things God Hates:
Here are six things GOD hates,
 and one more that he loathes with a passion: 
eyes that are arrogant, Proverbs 6:16-17a (MSG)

The NKJV and KJV both say “a proud look.” The NLT says “haughty eyes.”

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines “haughty” as “blatantly and disdainfully proud.” It defines “disdainful” as “contemptuous and scornful.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve read this verse countless times without stopping and assessing myself to any serious degree. Why? Because right there at the top of the list of things God hates is something I’ve excelled at since I was a little girl. Proud, arrogant, haughty eyes. Being judgmental.

Think about our everyday routines and how much judgey behavior and thinking we indulge ourselves in. [Read more…]