Saturday, January 30, 2016

So you must live as God’s obedient children.  Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires . . .  1 Peter 1.14
Slipping happens in a New York minute.  I’m reminded of this especially this time of year because I live in the icy, snowy state of Michigan.  If I'm not careful, if I'm distracted or in a hurry before I know it I'm flat on my back on an icy driveway.  

Traversing icy walkways takes focus and concentration and this life with Jesus is no different!  It takes intentionality, determination and single-mindedness.  The call of our old life is strong.
But God has gifted us with the Holy Spirit, God himself living inside of us, who fills us with His desires and empowers us to live as obedient children.  We don’t have to do this on our own, in our own strength.  Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4.30 (MSG), “. . . His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself.  Don’t take such a gift for granted.”
We don’t have to attempt to live this life by ourselves but we do have to surrender to the Holy Spirit’s leadership.  Jesus said it best when He declared, “No one can serve two masters.”  There can only be one master in our life, it’s either us or its God.  We can’t have both.  We must let His Holy Spirit reign in our lives in order to experience victory.
However, it’s in the re-asserting of ourselves onto the throne when slippage happens. 
When we lose focus, become distracted with life, allow fear to dictate our choices, before we know it, we find ourselves flat on our back in the muck of our old life, our old habits, and our old way of living.  And we lay they’re wondering how this could’ve happened AGAIN.
We will never drift into this life of surrendered-living.  Just like it takes focus and intentionality to walk on the ice without slipping, it takes purpose, effort, and tenacity to live a life surrendered to the power of the Holy Spirit.  It takes work to keep from re-asserting ourselves onto the throne.  It takes fortitude and perseverance to keep from going back to our old way of life. 
It takes a heart that desires God more than anything else!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Living Stones
May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.  Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 15.5
In music harmony adds dimension and fullness to the melody.  The beauty of harmony is its different parts working together to enhance the song; adding flavor and depth.
The same is true of the family of God.  It is not all the individuals doing and saying the same thing but all of them working together, each using their unique gifts and abilities to bring depth and dimension to the ONE purpose.
And there’s the rub.
Working together brings friction, conflict and tension.
We all are familiar with this chafing but often we fail to see the beauty that comes from this abrasiveness.  It is in the friction where beauty is born. 
Working together with other people who are broken and imperfect like us, is God’s beautiful design.  We are like rocks in a stream; bouncing, rubbing and polishing off each other’s rough edges.
So we welcome the tension, open the door to conflict allowing it to refine and perfect us.
If you find yourself in conflict with another follower of Jesus, don’t be surprised.  Remember, we’re ALL still in the process of being perfected.  Peter tells us, “And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple . . . “ 1 Peter 2.5 (NLT)
Know this; God wants to use this friction in your life to polish you into a beautiful living stone for all the world to see!
Heavenly Father, I know you designed family.  It’s part of your plan but I confess there are times when I don’t like the pain that comes with it!  I want to run and hide.  I want to escape the hurt, throw it to the winds and be done with it.  But teach me to STAY.  To embrace the pain and see the beauty.  Amen.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Word for the Year

Last year around this time I wrote a blog post entitled, One Word.  I had been challenged to let go of New Year’s resolutions and focus on one word I sensed God wanting me to focus on in my life.  I chose, UNDIVIDED.  The verse I chose that centered around this theme was Psalm 86.11,  

               Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. 

When I chose this word, I never dreamed how powerful it would be.  How God would constantly remind me of my heart’s desire.  How He would shape and form me.  Weeding out those places of impurity and dividedness in my heart.  How my heart’s cry every day became . . . “Give me an undivided heart.” 

The reason I chose this word, was because I could see myself so divided in my genuineness towards other people and God.  How jealous I was when someone would get what I had been longing for and how angry I would be that God wasn’t giving me what I wanted.    

I craved a pure heart . . . one that would genuinely rejoice over someone else’s success, without bitterness or jealousy raising its ugly face.   

And God did that and so much more!  He took me to places in my heart I never knew were divided.  Culminating in a confrontation by a friend that I was harboring bitterness towards someone who had hurt me long ago.   It led me to meeting with this person who had hurt me so deeply and sharing my hurt and struggle. Through that obedience God set me free.  It’s been a beautiful year, of soul searching, pain over my sin and joy at God’s gentle prodding and pruning. God has done an incredible work.  I’m ready to step out in boldness, looking expectantly at what God will do in my heart this New Year with my new word . . .
Psalm 118.6  The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear.  What can mere people do to me? 
               Romans 8:31  If God is for me, who can ever be against me?

Daring to follow wherever He leads.  Daring to take Him at His Word.  Daring to go where He wants me to go and do what He is wants me to do, no matter the cost.  Daring to share truth.  Daring to pray audacious prayers. Daring to trust. . .  

What will God do in my life with this word?  Only He knows.  I confess there is a part of me that wonders will I be brave enough for this word.  I can feel the fear knocking on my back door but I’m refusing to answer and I choose to walk in faith knowing God never calls me to anything that He won’t provide. 

What has God done in your life this past year?  What does He want to do in your life this year?  I’d love to hear about it!  Do you have One Word this year that you’re choosing to focus on?  I’d love to hear what it is and why you chose it.