When things aren’t like we want them to be…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Habakkuk 3:17-18

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Wow! That is quite the list!!

We may not be growing figs, grapes and olives or breeding and tending livestock, but most of us are working to grow, prosper, and increase in the ways that bring good things to life in our lives. We want to be able to have decent food, shelter, and clothing. To enjoy good relationships. To see strong results from our efforts. And we aren’t too happy when things aren’t working out like we want them to work out.

I’ve been thinking about joy. How it has NOTHING to do with circumstances. Being happy has to do with circumstances. Being joyful is an inside job. A choice. An action. A way of being.

I love how the writer declares that in all of this crisis, loss, and emptiness – in all that he sees around him, he WILL rejoice in the LORD. He WILL be joyful. Not about the circumstances. Not about the challenges. Not about the difficulties. Not about the disappointments. In spite of them. Smack dab in the middle of them. A quality decision. Purposed joy. Purposed focus on God. His goodness. His faithfulness.  [Read more…]

The promise of new and better

Flourish

 

But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. Psalm 92:14

Have you received Jesus Christ as your Redeemer, Savior, and Lord? If we have Christ in us and we are in Christ, we are “the godly.” Believe that, receive that, walk in that and it is a rich, strong life. A life of flourishing. What does it mean to “flourish?”

  1. flourish verb
    grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment. To grow, thrive, prosper, do well, burgeon, increase, multiply, proliferate. To spring up, shoot up, bloom, blossom, bear fruit, burst forth…
    “wild plants flourish on the banks of the lake”
     
    vigorous adjective 

    strong, healthy, full of energy, robust, spirited, vital, vibrant, full of zest, tough, sturdy, peppy

Wow.  I want to grow. To thrive. To prosper. To bear fruit…in a vigorous way! The whole list – in every aspect of my life. You?

Weak? Not growing and thriving? Let’s make sure we are really inhabiting that favorable environment – us in Christ and Christ in us. The result? We will flourish and be very, very strong. In a vigorous way. F

We have His Word on it.

 

Lord, You are the shield around me

 

 

 

Oh, Lord…You are the shield around me. You are my glory. You are the lifter of my head. (Psalm 3:3) Thank You for wrapping your faithful goodness and protection around me. Thank You for being my glory – the only reason there is hope and a future. Thank You for lifting my eyes and giving me vision beyond circumstances and situations. I set my sight and my mind on things above. Thank You that Your Word endures forever. You are good.

God is up to nothing but good

 

 

God is always, ALWAYS up to something good for us. Even when this life, this broken world, other people, or our own choices bring us difficulty, disappointment or pain…He’s ALWAYS got a plan that will bring the good and make things whole – when we believe it and receive it.

That may not always look like I think it will or even how I think it should. But He does work everything to my good. Even when “everything” isn’t good…He will turn the end result in my favor. Bring good. 

Whether it looks a little bleak or a whole lot of awful, think something like this, “Well, this is going to be interesting. Whatever He is working out to make His goodness and my belonging to Him obvious has got to be pretty wild. But, I WILL see it. That’s just Who He is. That’s just who I am to Him. He said so.” (Romans 8:28 and other scriptures)

God is good & He adores us.

God’s heart towards us is loving

 

 

Want real peace? Begin to meditate on the immense, endless, measureless love of God. Specifically for you. For me. For your best, most loved friend. For the person who has hurt you most of all. For us all. Never failing love. No matter what.

He’s not holding one thing against any of us. Not one thing. Doesn’t matter how broken. Doesn’t matter how bad. Doesn’t matter how unforgivable in the minds and hearts of others. Doesn’t matter if it is hard to forgive ourselves. (See Hebrews 8:12, Hebrews 10:17, Isaiah 43:25)

God’s heart towards us is loving, good, kind, merciful, to bless, to heal, to give.

God is good & He adores us. He really, really does.

Never stop dreaming…

Don’t let anyone or anything steal your dreams. No matter what.

Sin is dirty business…

 

“You never know how good it feels to be really clean until you’ve been really dirty.”

This was said to me about taking a shower after doing some pretty dirty work. Hot, dirty, unpleasant work. It immediately struck me in my spirit.

Sin. The filth. The degradation, decay, and stench of it. I’ve been there. You, too.

In John 7, a woman of less-than-sterling reputation is lavishing love and gratitude on Jesus while He visits Simon (not Simon Peter), the Pharisee. Simon is disgusted that Jesus would be so kind to her given her reputation and past.

John 7:47 (NLT)
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown Me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
 
What I love about this whole passage is that Jesus isn’t saying that her sins were worse or bigger or more numerous than those of the Pharisee He was addressing. He was confronting the Simon’s perception that her sins and mistakes made her unworthy while Simon had no sense of his own issues. He thought that he needed little to no forgiveness. So often, we look at what others have done and think of ourselves as having needed less forgiveness. Or, having needed more forgiveness. The reality is that whether we have a Pharisee’s perception of ourselves as pretty clean or this dear woman’s awareness that our sins were many; we have all needed the finished work of the cross. Forgiveness and redemption. All sin is sin. We’re the ones who’ve categorized it into what is and isn’t as dirty. It’s all the same to God. It all required the cross.

The awareness of forgiveness. Not necessarily for things done naked or with a weapon. Murder. Adultery. Those, too. But equally for things that happen in our hearts, minds, and with our words. His forgiveness eradicates our wrongs. No matter what we’ve done. Gone.

The correlation between our awareness of His grace to our ability to love is clear.

1 John 4:19 (NLT)
We love each other because He loved us first.

Struggling with being judgey (judgmental), harsh, or critical? Struggling with what it really means to love the Lord? Especially with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength (Easy to quote. Hard to understand. Impossible to do on our own.)? Struggling to be good to people who aren’t being good to you? Struggling with a spirit of competition or superiority? How about condemnation and shame?

Take it back to the most basic place. Focus on His love for us. His grace. His favor. His goodness. The absolute, unconditional love of the Father. The sacrificial love of Jesus. Redemption. Newness. Blessings. For us. For you. For me. The goodness and mercy of the Father.

We’ve all been forgiven much. When we revel in that grace…that love…that mercy…that goodness…we will love richly and freely and generously. We will live more consistently in the understanding and expression of the righteousness that He gave us as a gift. We will love much.

It is like living fresh out of the spiritual shower we all needed so desperately and Jesus so lovingly provided…

God is good. And, He adores us.

Be led…

Peace – it’s up to us