Day 294: Let your Brokenness Become a Mosaic (October 21)

This Sunday as you head out to church, or to worship wherever you plan to worship, I encourage you to allow any brokenness you have inside or have had inside, become a beautiful mosaic of worship to the Father.

I keep seeing a stained-glass window, those windows are made in pieces and look rather like a mosaic.  But even in their pieced together form, they are so beautiful.  In fact, that is a large part of what makes them beautiful.  And when light reflects through a stained-glass window it is nothing short of breathtaking.  It casts a rainbow of color on anything around.  It is beautifully broken.

You undoubtedly have suffered hurts in different places throughout your life, but instead of letting the hurt define you, what if you let the beauty of Christ shine through that place and make it beautiful rainbow of healing that others can see?  Even if you have been hurt by “the church”, make a decision to not let that rob you from offering the Lord the worship and praise that He deserves.  It’s never supposed to be about others.  Worship is for God alone, and He inhabits that praise.  So, why not let His fullness shine through your brokenness as you worship with abandon today?  You just might encourage another believer or non-believer to also allow themselves to be given fully to worship.  That would certainly be worth it, wouldn’t it?

God doesn’t need perfect people.  He above all, knows that none of us are.  But He created us to need communion with Him.  He created us to partner with Him.  If like Paul, we will boast in our weakness, instead of trying to appear perfect, then Christ can work through that brokenness with a beauty we could never imagine.

 

 

I must go on boasting.  Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven.  Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know- God knows.  And I know that this man- whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows- was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.  I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.  Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth.  But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations.  Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Day 293: Get Your Own House In Order (October 20)

I keep having this thought when I see others over-reaching and criticizing the way people are living their lives.  “Get your own house in order.”  So much of the landscape in America right now is power grabbers attempting to take control of people’s everyday lives by creating over-reaching restrictions and unnecessary laws.  Plastic straws being unlawful?  Come on!  Things like that drive me nuts.

Now I know these are political hot topics, but let’s be real, nobody wants anyone having control over their life like that.  Even those who are pushing for it, don’t actually want to abide by those rules.

Let’s take all of that and reflect it on the church.

I believe that the political landscape is not the first place this over-reach has appeared.  In fact, I believe it started in the church.

Ouch, again I’ve hit a hot spot.  I’m sorry, but I can’t stop feeling God stretching me to speak truth about some of these hard issues.

Let’s look back at the Jewish laws that were put into place before Jesus walked the earth.  God gave laws through Moses, and then over time, those in power or places of influence, for reasons unknown to me, continually tacked on one extra law after another.  Why is that?

Well, control is one reason, and I truly believe another reason is because it’s hard to live a holy life…..it’s supposed to be because it directs us to the fact that apart from Jesus we are unable to reach Heaven….and I wonder if they made laws to serve as a deflection from eyes glancing into their own lives.  In other words, some people create rules and laws to serve as a diversion.  They spew out ideology so loudly that they think it will make others convinced (even without evidence) that the speaker has their house in order, when in fact, they are in more disorder than most.

Some place a “barking dog” at the door of their heart and house so that others are afraid to enter.  They will yell and scream and point fingers, all the while they know inside they are afraid of being exposed.

So, what are we to do?  Who should we trust?  God.  I don’t know how any of us could possibly know the truth apart from God.  We are designed to need Him.  Our Counselor.

Take a minute and instead of looking outward to find the path, look to God.  He is the only way.  Ask Him to unveil your eyes so you can clearly see the path He has marked out for you.

Keep me safe, my God, for in You I take refuge.  I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.”  I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”  Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.  I will not pour out libations of blood such gods or take up their names on my lips.  Lord, You alone are my portion and my cup; You make my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  I will praise the Lord, Who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because You will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will You let Your faithful one see decay.  You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.  Psalm 16

 

Day 292: Public Speaking, and My Walk With Jesus (October 19)

I believe we each hold some different things inside.  For instance, because I know at least a portion of my calling, now I know why I’ve been naturally (or supernaturally drawn) to step out in certain ways.  The funny thing is, these certain ways were terrifying for me and seemed to be against my very make-up as a person.  Like public speaking.

When I was younger, I was not at all an out spoken person.  On the contrary, I was a peace keeper who didn’t say much.  As I have grown up though, I seem to be driven by something deep down inside and it pushes me toward speaking out, like in this devotional.  My mom has often expressed her shock that I am the one doing this, and not another one of her children.

The same goes with singing.  I have always loved to sing but was shy most of my life.  I do however have several hallmark moments that sprinkle my adolescent and young adult years and they represented who I was to become.  When I started college and chose to be a Vocal Performance Music Major, it was kind of out of left field.  I had never had any voice lessons and had only been in choir 2 times in my school years.  In what I now attribute to a Sovereign moment, I signed up for that major without even speaking to anyone in the department.  I had no idea how unusual this was, but the person in the admissions office just let me.  When I started, I remember them being curious who I was.  I also remember when they told me I might need to consider another major because I didn’t have what it takes.  Then a truly pivotal, life changing moment occurred.  For the first time in my life, I decided to stick something out despite opposition.  I said, “No, I’m going to do this.”  And I did.  Through countless hours spent alone in a practice room and being very serious during voice lessons, my voice was discovered.  He knew it was there all along, but my shyness wasn’t allowing it to come out in public.  But then one day our choir director held auditions for a solo part and I was compelled to try out.  Something deep inside me said, “Yes, I am doing this!”  I am not a competitive person, so I can only surmise that God was nudging me.  The day of auditions came, and it was my turn, I could tell the director didn’t expect much from me, and then I opened my voice and there it was!  I will never in my life, forget watching him whip his head around in shock.  I got the part.  It was a moment that created a momentum that began to transform my life.

Now that I walk with Jesus unapologetically, I am familiar with the nudges of the Father.  I know the familiar prompting.  So, it was no surprise to me when recently He told me I was to begin not only leading worship, but public speaking (or preaching).  This is not my favorite thing, as I am a one-on-one type personality.  I love the interaction of eye contact and shared conversation.  But I love the Father more.  So, I am striking out and when opportunities have come for me to speak, I take them.  It’s all about a closer walk with Him.

I guess you may be wondering what this has to do with you.

My question to you is, “Where is He calling you out?”  Has He been prompting you, ever so gently, to try something new?  Are you saying, “Yes”?  I sure do hope you are.  The adventure has only begun, my friend.

Being confident of this, that He Who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6

 

Day 291: Resistance Training (October 18)

Leading a life lacking resistance, leads to a life lacking maturity.  That may sounds like a bold statement, but I believe it with all my heart.  I’ve seen lives that are led with the goal of maintaining safety and they are lacking.  They lack the muscle to walk through challenges because they never allow God to exercise those muscles.  It’s like going to the gym.  Most people complain about it, but they still go because they know that the reward exceeds the discomfort.  I’ve gotten to the place where I no longer complain about running.  I know full well that if I miss, I will be miserable.  So, I just structure my day and even my meals in such a way that I can fulfill that running obligation daily.  When I begin to feel like I’m getting sick, I will make sure I don’t miss a run because time and time again, I have seen my body suddenly become healthy again because of it.  It’s an amazing thing.

Our spiritual walk is similar.  I am always listening and looking for opportunities to stretch myself.  When God puts it on my heart to try something new, then I either go out and do it, or wait for the opportunity to say “Yes”.  And I am convinced that doing so is strengthening me because now when life happens, and stressful situations occur I face them with an energy and resolve that hasn’t always been there.  It’s a muscle I have grown.

My prayers are full of direction and I feel a power over them and I am convinced that much of that is from the time I’ve spent in the quiet place developing that portion of my life with Abba.  I know Him.  I know His voice.  I believe Him.  Those things give power to all that I do.

My question to you today is, how much resistance training do you allow in your life?  Do you avoid every possible discomfort, or do you embrace the opportunities and look for God within them?  If you answer no to those things, then I challenge you today to make a change.  To allow God to exercise your spiritual muscles and deepen your maturity, to be complete and lacking in nothing.

 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.  James 1:2-8

Those of steadfast mind You keep in peace- because they trust in You.  Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.  Isaiah 26:3-4

Day 290: Don’t Let Tomorrow Rob From Today (October 17)

Today while I was driving and spending time with the Father, I had this thought, “Don’t let tomorrow rob from today.”  Instantly Abba downloaded some thoughts.  It’s funny how it can come like a sudden flood and suddenly you have a million thoughts at one time.

Anyway, I saw how worrying about tomorrow can steal from the joy of today!  I know you may be thinking about how obvious this is, but it still bears noticing.  How often have you received a peaceful day, only to begin to be plagued by random fears of the future?  I can’t be the only one.  Or have you received a blessing from God or an answered prayer and immediately after, before you can even fully feel gratitude, that looming thought comes, and you begin to worry about the next step and the step after that and how in the world will this all come together?!  Yes, that’s the thief.

How long will you and I allow the enemy to run rampant in our minds and steal every victory and success and blessing?

No longer!!  Not today satan!

Today, when I feel peace, I will not worry about the future.  I will practice gratitude for the moment.  I will practice being grateful and noticing every “in the moment” blessing.  You know what?  I am willing to bet that as I do this, my peaceful moments and victories will increase.  In fact, I know they will.

I have already been working to gain ground in this area of my life and have noticed so much change occurring.  I am so grateful for that.  I am seeing that now I can recognize when the fear of the future starts coming toward me and then I simply side-step it and look to the Father.  I immediately express gratitude for all He’s done and thank Him that He is in my future already.

There is peace to be found when we look past ourselves and into the Father’s eyes.

 

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.  Psalm 105:4

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in Me.  John 14:1

Remain in Me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.  John 15:4

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7

 

Day 289: The Wind (October 16)

This morning as I sit before the Lord, I feel a wind.  With the wind I feel a mixture of sadness and joy.  It feels like the fall winds that are blowing around outside.  I feel like I’m letting go.  I have never really liked to let go, although it’s such a necessary thing to do.

See, our home in PA has sold.  We are wrapping up the final paperwork and a closing date is inching closer and closer.  While I am so grateful and excited, it also carries a twinge of sadness.  I will never again walk through that house that the Lord so graciously provided.  It was indeed a case of, “More than I could ask or imagine” when He blessed us with it.  So, as with anything I must let go of, there is a grieving.  Yes, we have a beautiful home here in OK.  Yes, I am so glad to be here and to be starting a new chapter in life.  But, I also loved where we were.  I loved my friends there.  I loved how it grew to be a familiar place.  I loved the fall in PA.  The trees became so brightly colored that some appeared to be on fire in their brilliance.  I miss the local coffee shop where I would go meet a friend and eat yummy food and have a fancy coffee.  I miss my church.  I miss the teenagers at that church.  I love them.

With all the good here, I won’t stop remembering the good there too.

The wind has come.  The wind of a season of change.

My only consolation as time passes by is, God is always right by my side.  Every day I feel Him holding me.  I actually feel Him in some ways that I never had before, and I know that’s one reason change is good.  It helps us discover new depths of His affection.

Lord, come like a wind.  Blow over the expanse of my heart and fill me again.  God, I am grieving.  Comforter, come hold me.  Abba, I miss having a church body.  I miss having regular places to lead worship every week, and people to grow in You with.  But I thank You that I can be confident that You will once again provide all these things…. In time.  Help me walk out that time gracefully.  I am fully surrendered to You, in Jesus name, Amen.

 

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13

Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Philippians 4:4-5

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

Because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?”  Hebrews 13:5b-6

Day 288: Sculpting (October 15)

The other day I had the clearest vision.  In it I saw a sculpture that was in process.  As parts were chiseled off, sometimes a sharp point would appear until the Sculptor would come and smooth it over.  Then I heard God say, “Be aware that when I am refining people, sometimes during that process a sharp edge will occur.  A place of needed healing will be revealed, and they can act out.  Be gracious with other’s processes and receive that same grace for yourself.”

Let that settle on your heart for a minute.

We shouldn’t be surprised when we watch people go through seasons.  Don’t we all do that?  Some are easy, and some are hard, but they’re where we grow.  Seasons are where our character is developed.

I can honestly confess that there are times when God has been working in such a deep place in my heart that I was irritable with the world around me.  I was just too overwhelmed with the process at that moment.  Those are the rough-edged moments that I’m talking about.

In those moments, I needed extra grace.  Why then shouldn’t I give extra grace to those around me?  I most assuredly should.  Especially if I want to receive it again next time.

Sometimes God’s work in our lives can be likened to a deep tissue massage.  Those really hurt!  But they can be so beneficial.  The pain is worth the relief that will come.

Whatever your process looks like right now, I encourage you to present yourself to the Lord as willing.  As one who will not shy away from any work He desires to do inside of or around you.  The most joy is found when one is surrendered to His instructing hand.

Likewise, take a close look at those around you.  Is there someone within your inner circle that is really taxing for you right now?  Instead of thinking about how much you can’t stand them, take a minute and ask God to peel back the layers and show you their heart.  What are they going through?  What is He doing inside of them right now?  How can you be useful to them in this hard season?

Instead of being so grateful you “aren’t like that person”, ask God to use you in their life.  Ask Him to anoint you to be love toward them.  You will feel so satisfied if you do, and who knows, you may find that relationship restored.

Thank You God for relationship.

 

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  John 15:13

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:12