Deeper Day 304: Labor Coach

Lately I’ve felt like life is a lot like being in labor. There are a few key places where I’m so excited to see God move and show me what’s next, that I’m having to constantly tell myself, “Don’t push!” The constant internal struggle to remain relaxed when I’m just ready to move forward is very real. But I know the only successful way to move forward is in God’s timing.

Does this make sense?

In so many ways it reminds me of the times I’ve given birth. Before and during the pushing phases, there are moments when everything inside of me wanted to just bear down and push as hard as I could. But that simply wasn’t always what I needed to do, both to protect my body and the baby. It was always very important for me to listen to and obey the instruction of my mid-wife. As hard as it was sometimes, I surrendered to her wisdom and followed her instruction, and as a result I was able to deliver babies safely even with the umbilical cord around their necks. When Micah was ready to be delivered, she discovered the cord was wrapped around his neck twice. This meant it was much shorter now than it should have been. But in what could have been a potentially dangerous moment, she guided me, and it became a beautiful moment.

This is what life is like for me right now.

I am desperate to see the “babies” I’ve been carrying. By babies, I mean ministry and some personal things that I’ve been fighting for and building into. But if I rush the process, I’m likely to cause damage to the very things I’ve sacrificed and fought so hard for.

So, I must listen to God and not my urges. When my entire body is saying, “Push through! Demand!!”. My spirit is saying, “Wait. I will bring all things together in My time.” That gentle voice is so steadying.

I can’t lie, I’ve had a lot of the fear of man manifesting and a fear of disappointment, getting looked over and rejection. But I can’t allow those voices to be louder than God. I cannot allow my level of discomfort to drive me. I must remain focused through this birth process, so I see the full potential. And who knows what extras God may have in store for me! He promises things beyond what I can dream or imagine, so I am daily letting go of my ideal outcome and trusting His sovereign plan.

I don’t know what is happening with your life, but if you too are in a birthing season, I hope this encourages you to take heart and see it all the way through. Don’t rush what God is perfecting for you!

Prayer Moment: God, You are the best birth coach ever. I will trust You to bring about all things in Your timing. Help me to walk this out without sabotaging myself. Give me grace for myself and others. Open doors. Create ways. Lead me. I am all in. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

I will wait for the Lord, Who is hiding His face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in Him. Isaiah 8:17

Deeper Day 303: Battle Ground

As I sat with God and wondered what to write about next, I opened my Bible, and this passage was the first one I saw…

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you. 2 Chronicle 20:17

This verse had a written note next to it that said, “A Promise”.

In the way that only the Bible can, this word became a “now” word all over again. Apparently, at some point I had read this and received it as a promise from God. Now, here I am…opening my Bible to meet with Him and He reminds me that this is still true today.

What a timely promise, as we head into the election next week. Also, as our family faces other personal battles, this is very encouraging.

America has come to a place where our only way out is for God to move. So much division. So many lies to weed through. So much deception and trickery.

Our family is at a place where we have made some bold decisions to unashamedly follow God’s leading and the only way success will find us, is if we have heard and followed correctly.

But honestly, it’s great to be in a position where God is our only way, because decisions become much simpler. Trust is the constant decision. Peace is the guide. Hope is the lifeblood. Faith is the doorway.

As we face whatever is next in all our lives, we should hold tight to these things…

Trust…Peace…Hope…Faith and forever put on Love.

Prayer Moment: God, right now I ask that You would move among Your people. Those who call on You by name. Those who house the Holy Spirit in their hearts. God, move in Your people and reveal truth to them. Don’t let anyone’s fear take away what matters most. Trust, peace, hope, faith and love. Help us to clothe ourselves in Your attributes every morning before we interact with others. Help us to bless those around us. Help us walk through this uncertain season with the grace that we are called to have. We are not of this world. We are of Your kingdom. Please help us to walk as if we carry the confidence of heaven within our hearts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-2

Deeper Day 302: My Birthday Word

For my birthday this year, I had asked my siblings and my mom to give me prophetic words. As they all trickled in my spirit felt so encouraged and refreshed.

One sister also had her husband give me a word and his included Isaiah 60. God had given him this chapter for me. As I have read it over and over again, I am taken aback at all the goodness it holds. After the last year we’ve walked through, this chapter feels like a spring rain on my soul. Today, I wanted to share one small portion of it with you.

Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.  Isaiah 60:20

This verse felt like dawn breaking on my heart. It felt like a rhema word. One of those moments when a verse in the Bible suddenly takes on new life and feels very present. Like a new promise.

That’s what God does. That’s what it’s like when you read the Bible in partnership with Holy Spirit. It comes to life and Holy Spirit will lead you to encouragement and/or instruction for today. The Bible is very much alive, and the reason for that is that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit is alive and moving all the time. Our ever-present help and comforter.

So, I will spend this year believing for all the many gifts tucked into Isaiah 60. Each time I begin to read it again, I feel Holy Spirit fall on me. Then I feel my spirit stir all over again.

The prophetic words I receive are like life blood. The Bible says to prophesy for the edification of the church. It truly is an amazing and relevant gift.

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.                                    1 Corinthians 14:1

But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 1 Corinthians 14:3

Who doesn’t want to be strengthened, encouraged and comforted? I know I do. That’s why I not only eagerly desire to prophecy, but I eagerly desire to receive it as well. It’s one of the most beneficial and encouraging exchanges I make in life…to give and receive prophecy.

Prayer Moment: Thank You God for giving us the gift of prophecy. You knew that we would need lots of encouragement throughout our lifetimes, and You provided in advance for that to be taken care of. Help me to willingly give the words You speak to me for the encouragement of others. Help me never withhold a timely encouragement. Bless the words of my mouth. Send others to bless and encourage me. I love You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Arise and shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. Isaiah 60:1

Deeper Day 301: Sustain Me

When I read this verse recently, I was struck by the last little bit…

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:10-12

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.

A willing spirit to sustain me.

This line stuck in my heart.

Over the last 16 years of my life, I’ve discovered a lot about joy and walking out an abundant life. It has little to do with actual circumstances, and everything to do with my heart. Over the last year, I’ve discovered so much more about being willing to follow God in directions that may seem very strange to others. The key to it all has been for me to be willing. So, when I came across that line, it really resonated with my heart.

For years, I have cultivated a willing spirit in worship. During this current season, I’ve learned a lot more about cultivating a willing spirit in the big decisions. I’ve been recklessly following God for years, but He’s certainly amped things up as of late. It’s like, following God 2.0.

But I’m so grateful, because during this time, I’ve grown closer to not only Him, but my husband. When you walk through the fire of following a less traveled path, it draws you closer together. Maybe that’s part of the point. I feel like God wanted to introduce us to a new and deeper part of Himself and this was the best way for us to find it. I wouldn’t trade it honestly.

There have been so many times that I’ve thought, “When this is all said and done, I know I’ll be grateful.” Even in the moments when I’ve lamented or been completely overwhelmed, I’ve found deep down inside of myself, a willingness that has sustained me.

How willing are you? Have you discovered this hidden treasure to remaining sustained? Even if you’ve been previously unwilling to bend, it’s never too late to change. Change is ALWAYS possible.

Prayer Moment: God, I thank You for the creative ways that You sustain me. I thank You for loving me so much that You will not allow me to remain in doubt or fear. You love me so much that You will take me out of my comfort zone and into the deep waters. I am grateful for this. You love me and I know it. I love You too. It’s that love that drives everything I do. I am excited to see where our love affair leads us next. I am Yours completely. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise You forever for what You have done; in Your name I will hope, for Your name is good. I will praise You in the presence of Your saints. Psalm 52:8-9

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the One Who sustains me. Psalm 54:4

Deeper Day 300: Focus

Whatever you focus on the most will be the thing that you move toward. We know this statement is true, we learned it as children. Whether riding a bike or driving a car, you must maintain focus on where you are going, not where you don’t want to go.

Why is it then, that in life so many of us are hyper-focused on all the bad things and the “don’t do’s”?

If all you do is think about and talk about negative things, then how can you expect goodness? It seems obvious to me that in order to find goodness, you must pursue it.

Be honest, when you wake up each morning, do you wake with joy in your heart and anticipation of good things? Or do you wake up dreading the day? The answer to this question is very important.

Likewise, when you interact with people throughout the day, do you focus on the negative parts of those encounters or on positives? Do you allow one negative thing to throw your whole day into a tailspin and begin proclaiming that it’s just “a crappy day”?

We can’t control many things in life, but we can control our responses.

Today, I challenge you to intentionally choose joy and optimism. Lay aside the heavy garment of pessimism and disappointment and decide to believe the best. Believe the best about God. Believe the best about your spouse and children. Believe the best about your co-workers and church family. Simply choose to believe that those around you have a good motive, whether they do or not. Because something fantastic can happen when you begin to believe the best about those around you…they will begin to give you the best! You get what you look for. If you are looking at and for negatives, then that’s largely what you’ll find. If you look for something good and positive, then you’ll begin to receive much more of it.

The choice is yours. The responsibility is also yours. Nobody can “make” you have a bad day, but you. You, alone. It’s not anyone else’s fault or responsibility. Only you can decide what kind of day you have. That’s the good and bad part of it, it’s up to you…some people will read that statement and think, “That’s not fair or true. I can’t have a good day with (insert excuse here).” Sorry friend, but that statement is a lie. You absolutely can have a good day no matter what. It all begins and ends in your heart. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. That is also true of how you act. Out of the overflow of your heart, you act.

None of us is perfect in our daily responses but we can all make headway toward doing better.

Prayer Moment: God, please guard my heart and mind so I respond to daily inconveniences better. Help me to choose joy. Help me to always be on the lookout for Your goodness and kindness. I believe You are as good as You say You are, so help me live like that. Teach me Your ways, God. I adore You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.  Psalm 34:14-17

Deeper Day 299: One Slight Twist

This weekend, our church hosted a ladies self defense class. It was so much fun! I loved the kicking and hand thrusts. It was amazing how powerful all of us felt after a one hour class. Once we discovered a way to escape different scenarios and how to inflict damage to an attacker, we were all left with more confidence. It was great!!

During the instruction for how to get out of one of the holds, I felt God speaking to me. In this particular situation, they pretend someone has grabbed you by the wrist and you need to get free. We were all stunned to discover just how simple it is to find release. By twisting your wrist just slightly to one side and then pulling, it is extremely easy to break someone’s hold of you. There is a weak place within a person’s hold that is undeniable…the place where their thumb would touch their other fingers. It’s the weakest part of the hand. This is the vulnerability you want to exploit in order to find escape.

Then I began to hear God say, “Many people feel stuck in something and wonder how they could ever escape. But what they don’t realize is that with just a slight twist, they could be free in no time.”

I know some of you need to hear that.

Think of your worst or hardest situation in life right now, then imagine, what’s one thing you can do to pivot that situation and then create momentum to walk away?

There is always a way to get free. God even promised this in scripture:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Friend, no matter what you feel ensnared by, whether it’s something that seems major or minor, anything at all…God has given you a way to break free. Seek that weak place, where the grasp it has on you is vulnerable to your escaping. There is ALWAYS a weak place. With God, you can escape from anything.

Seek God and ask where that place is so you too can find the freedom that He died for you to attain.

Prayer Moment: God, protect me from myself. Help me to find freedom from anything in my life that has trapped me. I long to be free in You. Teach me how to make that slight twist that will lead to my release. I trust You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

Deeper Day 298: The Loud Faith of the Silent Majority

You hear a lot of people referencing the “silent majority” right now. It’s an interesting thing the way the media and others view silence.

The silent majority, those who follow Christ, so they hit their knees instead of hitting the streets to scream, rant, burn and protest. The silent majority, those who want to be more like Jesus, so they choose love and grace instead of confrontation and force. The silent majority, those who desire righteousness, so they avoid interacting with the things of this world as they attend church and prayer meetings. The silent majority doesn’t act as a bully, but rather a shepherd guiding others to the cross. We don’t have to force what the Holy Spirit will reinforce. We speak and allow the Holy Spirit to bear witness to what’s been said. Because we carry the power of heaven, we don’t have to force anything on anyone.

The silent majority isn’t really that silent.

As we petition God, we make the loudest noise, the only thing is our greatest sound is heard in heaven. We invest largely in what is eternal. We partner with the One Who created this world we live in.

We are the un-silent majority.

What might happen if, instead of letting the statement that we’re the silent majority, make us feel small and helpless, we allow it to get us on our knees more often. What if the more we are called silent, the more we cry out to heaven.

It’s true that in many ways the church has remained far too uninvolved, but in my opinion, being silent often isn’t a negative thing. Sometimes the greatest wisdom is to remain silent as you let the screams of the unrighteous reveal their true motives.

As Proverbs says: Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of the fool invites ruin. Proverbs 10:14 and When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. Proverbs 10:19

Prayer Moment: God, draw me to my knees in prayer. Keep my heart in a position of surrender to heaven. Help me to walk with purpose and intention. Give strength and power to my prayers. I exalt You. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Blessings crown the head of the righteous, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. Proverbs 10:6 &11

Deeper Day 297: 7 times 77

Recently as I was talking to God, I was lamenting about an area of my life where I feel like I fail a lot. I was pleading with God to forgive me and was praying for the strength to change. That’s when I heard Him speak to me, “Lisa, how many times did I tell you to forgive others?” My reply, “7 Times 77.” “Yes, now how many more times do you think I will forgive you?”

This was the moment I began to feel the full freedom of grace all over again.

Then He reminded me, “When Jesus died on the cross, He died for that sin too. It’s already been accounted for, so you don’t need to carry the guilt anymore.”

It’s funny how the thing that you’ve always known, can seem brand new when He brings it up to you.

Of course, I know Jesus already paid for my sins, but don’t we all need reminding sometimes? That’s the power of salvation, Jesus died for a lifetime of my sins before I was even born. So, how can I hold onto shame and disappointment without shortchanging His sacrifice?

Today, I wanted to remind you of the blood that covers all your sins. Sure, we all strive to not sin, but let’s face it we’re human and the struggle is real. Every day we do little things. Some days we do big things. The bottom line is that we all fall short of the glory of God.

This morning I hope you take comfort in the fact that you don’t have to be perfect. You only have to be covered. Covered by Jesus’ blood. When you finally begin to absorb the full affect of His grace, I believe your struggle with many sins will fall away. And the sins that are harder to avoid like, pride, slander and gossip, etc. well, you become more aware of and learn how to walk away from them more often than not.

Take heart, the God of the universe sent His Son to die a sinner’s death so you could live free. So, live free. Stop carrying the burdens of your sin and just walk in freedom. The thing you focus on most will more than likely become your greatest obstacle. If all you ever do is worry about this sin or that sin, then you’re much more likely to fall back into it, but if instead, you begin to focus more on walking in grace and freedom in Christ, then you’re much more likely to walk in that.

Focus on the thing you want to do, not the thing you don’t.

Prayer Moment: God, forgive me of my sins. Help me to walk in the freedom which You paid so dearly for me to have. Teach me to partner with Your grace more each day. Help me to not become so consumed with my shortcomings that I lose sight of Your grace. I want to be Christ focused, not me focused. I adore You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22

Deeper Day 296: Where the Wild Things Are

I’m sure that during your lifetime you’ve run across some people who are rebelliously living out a wild lifestyle, I know I have. In fact, at one time that wild one was me. I’m not ashamed to admit it anymore because I’ve been so washed in Jesus’ blood that I know I can lay all my shame and embarrassment aside and embrace the fullness of redemption. Honestly, I believe I treasure redemption more because I once lived so horribly. The old me is but a distant reflection in the past now, but I still clearly remember many once shame-filled moments. Every day I get a choice, do I resent my past or do I embrace my future. I choose the future. I decided long ago to simply learn from my past and point toward my future.

But I have often wondered why I was inclined to wildness.

Because you see, I am wild for God now. When I was walking in darkness, I was leaning toward wild. Now as a redeemed believer, I am still inclined to wildness…only this time it’s properly directed.

In my heart, I often wonder if many of those we view as wild are truly just misdirected in their passions that were intended to be wild for Him. Meaning, they were created to be wild, they just haven’t found the One worthy of wild passion yet.

I’m all in with God. I worship with all my heart. I pursue Him at all cost. I listen to Him for every decision. I don’t turn away from a challenge He calls me to because of fear. My fear of missing Him is greater than any earthly fear. I am desperate for Him.

You see, the line between passion for God and passion for addiction and wild living is smaller than you might think. All of those statements above could also be used for those who battle addiction or wild living, just replace God with whatever addiction a person might have.

You might be wondering why I’m even going on about this, but my hope is that in reading this and hopefully prayerfully considering it, you’ll find more grace. More grace for your own short-comings and also more grace for the fallen ones.

We were created to be passionate. God is the epitome of passion. Imagine the passion required to send Your only Son to earth to die the worst death. Imagine the unbridled passion of a Savior Who was willing to take on ALL our sins while hanging naked on the cross. Just imagine.

Passion is as passion does. Where is your passion focused?

Prayer Moment: God, I am one of the wild ones. I am consumed with my love for You. Don’t ever let that change. Never let me “grow” out of it. Never let me respond to criticisms by pulling back from You. You are it for me. You’re all I really need. May my walk through life with You be eternally blessed. I am Yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26

Deeper Day 295: Sway

Sway: Move or cause to move slowly or rhythmically backward and forward or from side to side. -control of influence a person or course of action. -rule or govern.                                                               Hold sway- have great power or influence over a particular person, place or domain.

God, You hold me and You sway. Back and forth, You gently rock me. You woo me and cause my heart to relax. Then we move. You begin to move me to places I would not normally go. You take me out on the water, and before I know it, I’m in the middle of the ocean but I’m not afraid because You’re with me. Dancing with me. Holding me. Your hand holding mine. Your heart is the rhythm I hear. Your eyes captivate me. You hold me closer than my own breath. You are my breath. At some point I lose track of where I end, and You begin.

Likewise, the world can hold sway over us if we’re not careful.

We are not called to be of this world. Yes, we must live in it, but it is possible to live in a place yet hold to that which is our Home. Heaven is my home. I live my life as if it is a reflection of my ultimate resting place.

I would much rather allow God to hold sway over me, than to allow the world to do so.

The thing that holds sway over us, is that which we are closer to. If we are walking closely with God, then all we do will be heavily influenced by Him. If we are more closely bound to the world, then it will hold more sway over our lives.

Upon reflection, what is holding sway over you?

Prayer Moment: God, be real with me. If there are any places where I have allowed the world to influence me, reveal them to me. Hold me close, Abba. Closer than ever before. Let me hear Your heartbeat. Let me hear Your thoughts. As You hold me close, let me see into Your eyes. Show me Your world. Teach me to walk more confidently in Your Presence. Help me to not fear being different from others. I want to be more like You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:13

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:16-18