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Miracle Worker

23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 21:23

Father in Heaven, you are a God of miracles.  You bring light when I am in darkness through your healing powers and in ways I can never fully understand.  Help me to see even the tiniest miracles that you perform throughout my day so I can lift up my voice in glory to You. Amen

If you were asked if you believe in miracles, what would you say?  Your answer would probably depend upon how you define a miracle.  Some might call it a rare event.  What if instead, you changed your perspective and recognized that God works miracles in our lives every single day?

A standard definition of a miracle is  “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.”  And again, how would you define “extraordinary?”  As I’ve grown closer to God and understanding His ways, my view of the world has certainly changed.  When seen through the lens of creation being the work of God, we can find any number of impossible things made possible.

37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

I’ve been blessed with being pregnant and giving birth twice.  Each time I marvelled at what was occurring in my body.  A tiny human being built from microscopic pieces of the universe in a body that itself is the perfect factory for human creation.  The parts all fit perfectly, just about every single time for thousands of years, millions upon millions of instances.  You don’t need to know statistics to grasp how impossible that should be.

Many say “that’s just science.”  Of course it is!  Science is the study of God’s amazing work – where the impossible happens all the time.  But let’s set human biology aside.  I can state for a fact that miracles happen regularly because I have experienced them.  Oh, if you had only known me 30, 20 or even just 10 years ago. You wouldn’t have seen Christ in my life.  You would have seen a woman desperate for peace.  Longing for joy.  Fearful of not being loved or appreciated.  A couple of years ago, a friend who has known me for some time commented how she could now see the work of Jesus in me.  Truly a miracle.  I’ve seen the same work in a few friends.  Ones I thought would never change.  And the change that has occurred is one that only the hand of God could’ve accomplished.

When you think “miracle” do you only think of cancer being healed?  A death avoided?  A financial windfall?  If so, you need to rub the scales from your eyes.  Just the fact that the sun rose again today was God’s miracle of creation.   His glory is revealed in so many ways.  Some include our continuous acts of human creation.  While other times through the medicines He has placed here for us to “discover.”  His miracle work is revealed each time a sinner recognizes their sin and asks God to change her and He does.  And yes, whenever we are blessed financially when we need it most. 

Friend, God’s glorious miracles are at work right now in your life.  Like our future Eden, He doesn’t need any outside source to cause the light to shine because He makes impossible possible.

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The First Priority

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-12

My Lord and Savior Jesus there is no other above you!  You are the touchstone for everything and person in my life.  Help me to place my thoughts first on you today, God.  There is nothing I should chase after that is placed greater than You. Amen

Misplaced priorities, oh how I have had (have) quite a few.  I can easily forgive myself for the years I wasn’t a Christian.  Even those years I was a baby Christian I look back upon with grace.  But today?  Today when I put my yearnings above God there’s really no excuse.  I know better.  And I find myself doing it anyways.  I’m getting better day by day.  As my friend Betsy calls it, I’m making imperfect progress.

“8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8

The apostle Paul was certainly a man on fire to give all glory and honor and praise to Jesus.  We “normal” folks can sometimes look at the very faithful and think, “I have family that’s going through (fill in the blank) and that needs my attention.”  Or even, “My job takes a lot out of me and it’s important work so I don’t have the same time as Paul to devote to my faith.”  We can list endless reasons why we aren’t on fire for the Lord.  Or worse, we just are ambivalent.   Paul was not a man with time on his hands. Although Bible scholars aren’t in total agreement, some believe that at one time he was married. He also had a thriving tent making business which he took on the road during his mission trips. Whatever his full biography was, he clearly placed his everyday activities secondary to God.

I’ve come to finally realize that once I have begun aligning my actions, yearnings, words and more to God’s priorities, life has gotten a lot simpler and clearer.  It doesn’t mean it’s easier.  However, knowing my highest authority is our Lord, my worries and thoughts get pulled into His ways and purpose.  

Friend, if you’re chasing a need or desire that places an earthly object, goal or person above God you are just spinning your wheels.  You may get the fame or the fortune but you won’t have the fruit.  God alone deserves the highest place of honor and glory in your life.  He has no rival; He has no equal. Pursue Him with great passion over everything else and you will see Him at work.

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Everyday Glory

“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11

Holy Spirit, whatever decisions and choices I make today help them to be in service and glorification of God. Amen

I read an Instagram post the other day that asked this question: “Are you doing what makes you happy or what glorifies God?”  I would venture to say on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour basis we probably lean toward what makes us happy.  Sure, when it comes to bigger more difficult decisions, we may seek God’s counsel.  But how often when we are choosing what to eat, what to do with our free time, when we go about our chores and errands, before we open the door to enter work or school do we think, what’s God say about this? What could I do in this very situation that would make God happy?  What could I say to my spouse/friend/adult child that would sound like a word from the Lord?

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

We can take this piece of scripture and use it as a sort of “out” when it comes to our everyday lives being aligned with God.  We can never know all that God is thinking so we just go about our lives as best we can, right?  That may be true if we never study scripture or pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom.  Because when we do those two things, God will constantly be on our minds and lips.  He may even want that mundane day you have planned turned into something that glorifies Him.

We will never be fully satisfied with making our own choices about our lives.  It may appear that some people who have fame and fortune without God “have it all.”  As Christ followers we know true satisfaction, however, comes from the only constant thing in the world – God.  He knows what’s best for us.  He knows what will work in our lives to glorify the kingdom.  

Friend, when we change our daily thinking to God’s plan, not ours, we will also enjoy the fruits of the spirit – peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. And that sounds a lot better than anything I might’ve planned for my day.

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A Useful Servant

If you ever talk to a non-Christian and they give you the line, “The Bible is just some old book written thousands of years ago and society has evolved since then,” you might want to share the story of a slave named Onesimus, which means “Useful.”  Not the Onesimus in the book of Philemon – we’ll get to him later.  No, the Onesimus of 1716.  It shows God’s total sovereignty over this world and how He weaves His way throughout all time.  He works through all of us to complete His plan – whether a believer or not.  The story of the black slave Onesimus shares striking parallels to the Bible’s slave written of in the New Testament.  

Puritan minister Cotton Mather of Boston was gifted a slave by a parishioner in 1711. It’s believed Mather changed the slave’s name to Onesimus. And like Philemon’s slave, Onesimus was considered a liar and a thief by his master.  But in 1716, Onesimus told Mr. Mather something he did believe: That he knew how to prevent smallpox. He shared with his master how in his home country people would rub pus from an infected person into an open wound on the arm.  This would cause mild symptoms and would inoculate the person against smallpox.

Mather was fascinated. He verified Onesimus’ story with that of other enslaved people.  Mather, while attempting to spread this great news during the smallpox epidemic, was vilified.  How dare he take the word of a slave? A black slave at that? But Mather pressed on. Combining efforts with physician Zabdiel Boylston, the two inoculated their children and enslaved workers.  They then began inoculating other willing Bostonians.  Of the 242 people they inoculated, only six died—one in 40, as opposed to one in seven deaths among the population of Boston who didn’t undergo the procedure.

While history doesn’t give much credit for Onesimus being a key part of the development of immunizations, he can be found in the story.  Like Naamans’ Jewish slave girl, his desire to be useful and seeking a better relationship with his master saw him sharing a cure for so many.  

"It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me." Philemon 1:9-11

How useful are we to God?  How are our new beginnings lived out for the world to see the glory and gifts of God?  For the Boston slave Onesimus, he appeared to never have accepted his master’s Christian religion.  He did, however, buy his own earthly freedom by giving Mather enough money to purchase a different slave.  But for the Bible’s Onesimus, who stole from his master and ran away to Rome, his freedom was purchased for him.  Once by Jesus, when he, after being discipled by both Philemon and Paul, accepted the Lord as his savior.  And his earthly freedom was paid for by Paul who stated, “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.”  (v 18)

Paul exhibited a great lesson of our faith in Jesus, to stand for those who cannot stand on their own.  And in doing so, lived out an example for Philemon to follow.  If Philemon believed in what Jesus taught, not just believed “in” Jesus, he knew he must live out the fruits of the spirit – kindness, compassion, forgiveness, grace, etc.  This was no small feat.  Just as in the world of the 1700s, slaves were a valued commodity.  And allowing a slave to run away without punishment was bad enough, but to allow a thieving slave (like both were) to do so was unheard of.   Mather suffered public humiliation by accepting his slave as an equal partner in curing a deadly disease.  Philemon was certain to suffer the same fate from other slave owners if he accepted Onesimus back as an equal in Christ.

But what about the Bible’s Onesimus?  Where does he fit in God’s plan?  Notice that our worldly sins and crimes are not erased without any repercussions.  Paul did not say Philemon should just welcome Onesimus back with all debts forgiven.  A crime had been committed and it needed to be repaid by someone.  

Onesimus took a number of steps in his life to become useful to God.  He first sought out Paul in Rome when his life had become a mess.  He accepted Jesus as his savior.  And like the first 3,000 Christians, he sat at the feet of a great teacher to learn about Christ and his expectations of us.  He then, apparently, asked to go home and face Philemon, his old master.  

15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. Philemon 1: 15-16

We can only imagine the scene of Onesimus and his fellow travelers arriving at Philemon’s door.  Hat in hand.  A posture of humility most likely.  Asking for forgiveness.  He became God’s instrument to help others learn how to forgive, how to love, and how being a Christ follower transforms us.  My friend Andrea has been the person in my life to model forgiveness.  I’ve watched how she has forgiven well-trod hurts and has been eternally grateful for receiving forgiveness.  By seeing her transformation, it has helped to transform my heart.  She has been very useful to God!

Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 steps are well known by many.  And placed in a Christian context may help some of us to follow in Onesimus’ footsteps to being fully available for God’s purposes.  To be “useful” in our new beginning.  With a few minor edits, those 12 steps are:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over (sin)—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Come to believe that (God) is greater than ourselves and can restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God (forgive) all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove(/forgive) our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to (all sinners), and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Jesus paid the price to be our intercessor, our kinsman redeemer.  We are accepted by Him in full.  But it’s now up to us to do the work to live out being acceptable to Christ each and every day with our new beginning.  

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Busy or Fruitful?

Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:20

For much of my life I sought busyness.  If I wasn’t “doing” then I was not worthy.  It didn’t matter what that doing was, I just needed to do something.  When I quit working to be a stay at home mom my greatest fear was to be seen as worthless.  A non-contributor.  And yes, I know I was doing the important work of raising a child.  But having grown up through the 70s and 80s, being a homemaker was not a goal any of my friends wished to attain.  

When my husband would come home from work and ask me, “What did you do today?” I took that as a judgment of my worth.  I felt the need to provide an hour by hour list of all the important things I had accomplished.  

Fast forward to 2020 – yes, the Great Lockdown.  I see that time as a sifting of sorts.  If you weren’t tied to a Zoom-based job you either embraced staying at home working on little projects around the house, completing endless puzzles, catching up on all those books you’d ignored, jumping in to Bible studies or you were going mad with boredom and itching to “do something important.”

What does this all have to do with praising God?  I realized the other day that I need to be thankful to Him that He never asks us to live a life of “busyness.”  I praise Him for instead expecting us to live a life that bears good fruit.  Quality over quantity.  He is not a task master.  He doesn’t have verses in the Bible about accounting for every hour of our day.  Yes, He doesn’t want us to be idle.  But that means not wasting our precious time doing things that don’t produce good fruits.

Time spent in mediation is not idle.  It helps me commune with Him.  Time spent in study brings me closer in line with what He wants of me.  Time spent in nature helps me appreciate and praise Him.  Time spent with my husband during a round of golf brings us closer together and strengthens our marriage.

But busyness distracts me.  It physically causes my heart to race thinking I need to accomplish something – anything.  It darkens my heart when I equate my doing with my worth.

Jesus came to change our hearts.  To remind us that our wrong intent is just as bad as our wrong doing.  And knowing that releases my heart and mind to live in a peaceful state. 


 

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Bucket Of Joy

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. Psalm 4:7

Have you ever ridden on a carousel where the operator, at some point, drops down a metal arm toward the riders and a brass ring drops toward its end?  The riders on the outside stretch and strive to grasp that brass ring.  The prize?  A free ride to the one person who can attain that ring.  I think that’s how I was looking at joy for many years.  Not only from a grasping and striving point of view but from a scarcity mindset.  There’s only one ring and lots of riders.  You have to be on one of the outside animals to even have a chance.  And once the ring is taken by a rider, your chance is gone.  I searched in earnest many years for joy.  How to attain it and how to hold on to it.  And what I discovered is that joy, freely given in abundance by God, is right in front of me for the taking.  

Praise God that His joy, unlike the joy the world offers, comes freely and is never ending.  It is available to all.  In the carousel world, as we spin around and around, we can choose the outer seat or even one of the animals constantly moving up and down, never finding rest.  But how about instead we pick one of the colorful, stable sleds?  And sitting there on the bench as we take our seat is a replenishing bucket full of shiny joy rings.  Not just one free ride but endless opportunities for laughter and cooling breezes hitting our face as we go round and round.

God’s joy is available to everyone, not just the chosen few.  It’s there for the taking when we sit nestled in the promises and gifts of His Holy Word.  We pick up a ring from the bucket each time and hand it to the operator saying, “let’s ride!”  All the while we watch the outer edge riders stretching for the measly gifts of the world.

The thing about riding a carousel is we carefully pick which animal or sleigh to ride when we jump up to the main stage.  We are drawn to the exciting and the colorful, to the chance to grasp the ring.  Isn’t that like the world?  The bells and whistles of the flesh pull us to stretch for even more?  To search for a bigger and better brass ring?  But God says, “Come and rest and I will fill your bucket overflowing with joy.”  All we need to do is choose Him.


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Hanging By A Thread

Can a mother forget the baby 
at her breast and have no compassion 
on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will 
not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on 
the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
Isaiah 49:15-16

I just was having a bad day.  Nothing really seemed to fall into place.  My husband got some bad news from work which makes me worry about him and our financial situation.  And then we decided to go get my car washed.  My husband was vacuuming the back of my hatchback.  I decided to walk around the back in order to reach the passenger front window.  Unbeknownst to me he had pushed the button to close the hatch as he walked away.  I walked square into the corner of the door with the top of my head.  My husband was completely unaware as he was now on the opposite side of the car.  I bent over holding my head trying to 1) not cry like a baby and 2) stay conscious. 

I cried out to him like a mewling lamb.  My first reaction was to blame him and then I apologized, saying it was just an accident.  But that was the last straw for me that day.  I  wanted to sit down and sob.  It has taken so much out of me to stay in tune with God during the trials and tribulations of the Covid pandemic that I just wanted to give up.  No more joyful grasping for God.  No more peace resting in His Word.  I just was done.  

Come to me, all you who 
are weary and burdened, 
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

And God whispered to me, “I’m still here. And I still love you.  And I know you are having a hard time.  Come and talk to me.”  

I still find it so hard to pray when I’m truly struggling.  But God is so compassionate to us.  He knows when we are holding on by a thread.  He will take even the tiniest snippets of prayer from us to help us hold on.  Like the mother in the Isaiah verse today, He longs to hold us in His arms if we would just run to him – or even crawl.  

The process of sanctification this year made me realize quickly that I was shrinking away from not only God but my husband at that painful moment.  I didn’t want to burden my husband any more than he already was. But after a little while, I shared with him how I was feeling.  I know it’s hard for men to see their beloved wives in pain and not be able to fix our ills.  But he gave me what I needed — a listening and compassionate ear, and a hug.  

That’s what God wants to do for us too.  Although we shouldn’t turn our prayer time into a litany of complaints, we should bring him our pain.  

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, 
holy and dearly loved, clothe 
yourselves with compassion, 
kindness, humility, gentleness 
and patience.
Colossians 3:12

I like this visual of clothing ourselves.  The fruits of the spirit are God’s way of giving us that spiritual hug and listening ear.  He is compassionate, kind, gentle and patient with us.  And Jesus was certainly humble.  When we encase our minds and hearts in these gifts and then turn those fruit outward toward God’s people, we get them back tenfold. 

My husband is a godly man.  Because of this, God used him to give me the compassion and gentleness I needed that day.  And I was able to pull myself back on track. 

I could have easily given in to my despair.  I mean my head was killing me and felt like I had a concussion.  Nothing I could do would fix any problem around me.  But I have learned to grab hold of the promises of God for my rescue. 

Be on your guard; stand firm 
in the faith; be courageous; 
be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13

My head still hurts a few days later but I can almost (almost) laugh about it now.  I’m glad I don’t have to keep apologizing to anyone for losing it – since I pulled back my anger almost immediately.  My husband felt bad enough as it was.  And my compassion toward him helped me to stay in line with God’s Word.

I thank God for His promise to never forget me, always hold me tightly and guide me with the fruits of His spirit. 


Join me starting January 11 for my next series! Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help create a vision of you! The words we speak and think and pray have a great impact on our life. We will embark on a journey of praying changes into our lives. New Year’s resolutions have nothing on what God can accomplish when we ask for miracles to transform us!

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Hold The Line

The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.”

Isaiah 26:7

My BSGs (Bible Study girls) are currently doing an advent study.  In it we are reminded of the many promises of God through Jesus Christ.  These are the promises that so many Christians are most familiar – hope, peace, love and joy through trusting in the Lord.  And even though I’ve been a Christian for some time now, being reminded of the Peace of God through righteousness is so necessary in this broken world. 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give 
thanks in all circumstances; for this is 
God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 
Do not quench the Spirit.  
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

We humans need constant communication with God, constant reminders of His promises, constant reminders of the reason why He sent us His son, Christ Jesus.  Why? Because we are constantly bombarded with opposite messages.  The chaos of this world desires to bring us to our knees in fear and worry.  It never stops.  But God’s peace, love and joy are solid promises.  

I’ve been led to call this process of constant communication, “holding the line.”  We have a narrow path which God wants us to walk with Him.  For some of us it means constantly looking down at that line and grasping tightly to His promises.  For others the line is a gentle garden path in which they easily stay within the boundaries.  In discovering the many promises of God, we can grasp them tightly as we work our way through those bombshells thrown at us by this broken world.

Suddenly a great company of the 
heavenly host appeared with the angel, 
praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, 
and on earth peace to those on whom 
his favor rests.” 
Luke 2:13-14

Notice the very last line of this glorious verse?  “To whom His favor rests.”  When I read this recently, I realized that last part is frequently left off.  “Peace on Earth.”  Taking this out of context changes the meaning of this promise.  Yes, God has promised to never leave us, but so many of His promises are actually a covenant.  

Covenant:

“a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action”

“Between two or more parties.”  That means God promises and we promise back.  An agreement.  Throughout the Book of Isaiah we read of two worlds – the broken agreements and the renewed ones.  God’s promises can only come to completion when we do our part – when we grab hold of that line and follow Him. 

I’ve heard there are more than 5,400 of those promises in the Old and New Testament.  In this new series I want to remind us of just 25 of them and help to bring to the forefront our role in our heavenly handshake.

God is doing 10,000 things in your life and you may only be aware of 3 of them.

John Piper

Let’s study together, in Isaiah, these next few weeks as we learn how to “Hold The Line” and prepare to celebrate the gift of God’s greatest covenant with us – the gift and promise of Jesus Christ.

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10 Bold Bible Verses To Read Today

What lies are you fighting right now? Bold faith, trust in God, and knowing His love for you are the weapons against satan’s ever present lies.

1. “The One born of God keeps me safe — the evil one cannot harm me” 1 John 5:18

You are a child of God. A raging battle is going on in the spiritual world for your soul. Knowing that your father is fighting for you and trusting that all things are done for your good gives us strength. Many Christians have issues with the idea of satan. But as I discussed with a fellow Christian, the Bible does not shy away from satan. Jesus had a number of conversations with him. If you are going to accept the blessings from God you need to accept that satan is at work trying to keep those blessings from you.

2. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jer 31:3

The only love that will never fade is the love God has for us. It never wavers, it never decreases. Even if your physical world is not filled with love, we can draw on God’s love to persevere. This is not an easy task. A mom in a struggling marriage, with children who always seem disappointed in her said, “I remember that God loves me but sometimes I just need someone to physically hold me.” Run to the arms of the father. Fully surrender that need to God. He will light the way.

3. “He has rescued me from the darkness and I have redemption and forgiveness of sins.” Col 1:13-14

When we accept Jesus as our savior we throw up the lifeline to rescue us. Notice the word is rescue. If someone doesn’t want to be rescued they can make sure they aren’t. Throw up your hand and grasp His. You will be pulled out of your darkness. I have a Christian friend who had been a drug addict and alcoholic for many years tell me she had a dream of being a fish and a hook dropped down from out of the blue. She bit at it and it hooked her mouth and yanked her out of the sea. The next day she knew she never wanted another drink again in her life. God speaks in so many ways to us, just reach out.

4. “We are God’s handiwork.” Eph 2:10

When women sit around talking you’ll frequently hear us complaining about one body part or another. “I’m too chubby.” “Ugh, my hair.” “I wish my lips were plumper.” But think about it — you are uniquely you. You were created out of tiny DNA pieces that became you! It pains me to see satan’s forces at work taking our little complaints and elevating them to destroying our self-esteem. And worse, convincing people they are a mistake and must chop off body parts or take dangerous drugs to limit natural growth. No matter your height, your hips, your lips, your tomboy nature, your kinky hair, you are you and you are God’s creation. We’d save a lot of money and angst if we accepted that every time we looked in the mirror.

5. “I call you friend.” John 15:15

Boy do I wish I had known this when I was younger. An intimate relationship with Jesus and the Father not only brings us so many blessings but brings joy to the Almighty. He longs for that friendship. He will never stab you in the back. He will never forsake you. He is with you at 7:00 a.m. when your feet hit the floor and at 2:00 p.m. when you find out you were laid off. He’s even with you at 3:00 a.m. when your bills are swirling in your head. Pick up your spiritual cell phone and give Him a call.

6. “And I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Rom 8:28

I once heard a funny twist on “why do bad things happen to good people?” Instead, how about “why do good things happen to us bad people?” When we say “bad people” I’d bet most people think, “well, it’s not like I’ve killed someone or stolen a million dollars.” But a pastor asked, “Have you stolen anything at all? Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? Have you not been able to forgive someone? Have you ever coveted something?” In fact, there’s only one truly good person that something bad happened to — Jesus. And Jesus suffered on the cross so that our sins are forgiven. So with that in mind we must be thankful for the good stuff God sends our way and trust that any bad that we encounter God is working out a blessing for us somehow, someway in the end.

7. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs.” Eph 4:29

Yes, yes, we know not to gossip and to be kind to others. But are you gossiping about yourself? Are you unkind to yourself? When we talk to our friends, family and strangers how much do we tear ourselves down with “I’m not good at xy or z.” Or again with the physical degradation of ourselves? That’s not to say we should be boasting. But remember, we ARE God’s creation. So speak in positives. Don’t give the devil a hand up on tearing yourself or other’s down.

8. “As God’s co-worker (fill in the blank).” 2Cor 6:1

We are in this together. The entire story of the planet is built on covenants WITH God. He could’ve just made the animals and plants and wiped his hands on his robes and said, “Looks pretty darn good. Time for a nap.” But no, He made us. He made everything else FOR us. So He expects us to work with Him to tend to the needs of this glorious place. That includes sharing with others His love for His creation.

9. “We have the mind of Christ.” 1Cor 2:16

How often have you finished a prayer with “In Jesus’ name, Amen”? Do you know what it means? It means that Jesus is standing beside you, writing shorthand as you pray. He then takes that prayer to the Father and speaks for you. But the responsibility of a mature Christian is to discern the mind of Christ while speaking that prayer. We know His values and have His desires for us in mind. When we have the mind of Christ we can pray boldly and act boldly because we know that we are aligned with the spirit of God.

10. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

We can say we know God. We can know God loves us. We can see the blessings and be thankful. We can know the right things to do. But if we don’t go boldly and actually DO the Word of God can we really say we truly know God? We need to obey His Word and leave the consequences to Him. Surrender, trust and receive full blessings.

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Farmer Jesus

What seeds are you planting lately? Luke 6:43-45 explains that “no good tree bears bad fruit and no bad tree bears good fruit.”
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Back in early March we planted our warm weather garden — bell peppers, cilantro, and four tomato plants. My hope at the time was none of them would die in a week. I took extra steps this year and learned more about achieving good fruit. And that basket in the picture is just a small reaping of what we have sown. It’s been a constant tending of the needs of each plant. And a constant battle with pests. But the reward is oh so good!
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How many of us take the same care with our spiritual life as we do those things in the physical world? How many of us are struggling even just to tend to our daily lives with loving care? We reap what we sow. We need to pay special care to what we plant in our hearts and minds because even the tiniest seed can reap ten-fold — good or bad.
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A healthy relationship with the ultimate farmer— Jesus— guides us and teaches us the right seeds to plant, when to plant them, and how to tend them. Like my desire for a more fruitful garden we need to actively seek out His teaching.
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Do you want to be a plot of unused, hard dirt? A weed-filled plot? Or a luscious, fruit filled place in this world that shares their harvest with others? Be bold my friends. Ask for gardening advice today 🍅
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