Tag Archive | Believe

Inevitable Change

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Yes, that is a lizard in the picture!  I was outside checking on my plants the other morning, when I spotted this lizard being very still on the exterior wall of my home.   I really don’t do well with seeing lizards or any other little creatures around me, but this one had me reaching for my phone so that I could take a picture.  If you look closely, you will see what appears to be a white substance on the lizard.   My first thought was what did it get into, and then I realized that it might be shedding it’s old skin.

I tend to pay attention to the nature around me and I am always curious as to why God allows me to see or hear certain things. So after seeing this lizard,  I did a bit of research on lizards shedding their skins. I found out that shedding is an indication of growth and renewal.  I also found out that some lizards will eat the skin they shed for nourishment.  The shedding of the skin is an inevitable change the lizard will experience.

Does an inevitable change occur when we join with Christ? I surely hope so! Inevitable means that something is certain to happen.  Change means becoming or experiencing something different.  As we join with Christ we have to put away the former things and walk in our newness with Him.  Of course, this doesn’t mean everything will be easy from here on out, but it does mean we can find hope and peace in our newness with Him.  It means we can put all of our trust in Him instead of being so quick to worry and try to figure things out on our own.   It means we strive to be better and to make better choices.

II Corinthians 5:17(GNT) says “Anyone who has joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.”   When we join with Christ, are we similar to this lizard shedding it’s skin? I would imagine that in a way we are.  Hopefully, we are getting rid of what is old to embrace the new.  Hopefully, we are able to allow what we’ve been through to help us grow and mature in our relationship with Christ.  Just as the lizard may eat it’s shed skin for nourishment, we can take our past experiences to learn life’s lessons and move forward.

Another thought I had about this lizard shedding it’s skin is that you can’t put new wine into old wineskin.  Jesus says in Luke 5:37 NIV: “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.”  This parable came about when there was a discussion of John’s disciples time of fasting being compared to Jesus and His disciples not fasting.  Traditionally, fasting was a time of mourning over sins or an urgency for prayer.  Jesus was telling them it was a time of celebration; time to embrace a new covenant.  How often do we try to hold onto old traditions that no longer serve a purpose to help us move forward?  

When I was a little girl, one of my chores was to iron pillow cases after the laundry was done.  I have often wondered what was the purpose in ironing pillow cases when we were just going to wrinkle them as soon as we laid our heads on them.  I do understand it was to make everything nice and neat, but really, what was the point?  Fast forward to today, I’m thankful for wrinkle free pillow cases and those decorative pillow covers.  But just imagine, if I told you I was still ironing pillow cases! You’d probably think does she know how much better it is to embrace the wrinkle free and not waste time ironing! She’s ironing something that does not need to be ironed. There are times we just have to let go of the old traditions and embrace what is new.  (I don’t know if that analogy worked for you, but it made me smile!)  

Jesus offers us something new everyday.  The Bible tells us His mercies are new every morning.  What He offers us is so much better than what we have.  I would like to think the lizard felt so much better after the shedding process was complete.  Getting rid of the old and shaking off that extra burden from the old skin it was carrying around was probably a relief.  I’m sure it looked different from the appearance I captured in my photo.  I believe we look different when we grow and mature in our relationship with Christ.   We don’t wear worry  on our faces as much.  We don’t look like we are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, because we know  we can cast our burdens on Him.

As you draw closer to Christ, I encourage you to embrace the inevitable changes that should occur in your life.  You have to get yourself to a place where you don’t do certain things you used to do.  You have to resist fleshly desires and seek God for strength and direction.  You have to increase your faith in Him, and make wise decisions concerning you and others.  You have to pray more and study the Bible more.  You have to shed the old and embrace the new.

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Father, we come before You and give thanks to You for being a gracious and merciful God.  We thank You for being wonderful and loving towards us.  Lord, we thank You for all things new.  We know You are the one Who makes a new way out of what was the old way, and we look to You for all we need.  Dear Father, we seek Your guidance for the inevitable changes in our lives because of our relationship with You.   We ask You to  cleanse us with hyssop; give us joy and gladness in bones that were once crushed.  Lord, we know as we embrace change and seek You to forgive us that You hide Your face from our sins and blot out our iniquities. Lord, as we join with You and change for the better, create in us a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within us.  In the precious name of Jesus, amen!

While You Wait On God

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When you don’t know what to expect in your personal circumstances or what to expect in what is going on in the world today, expect God.  The definition of expect means to regard something as likely to happen.  Today, I encourage you to  expect God to show up and to work everything out on your behalf.   Expect God to make a way out of no way.  Expect God to be your Healer, your Provider and your Protector. While you wait on the Lord, you should wait with an expectancy.  Expectancy means the state of thinking  or hoping that something pleasant will happen.  While you wait on God, expect Him to be your Strength, your Hope and your Peace.

Psalm 130:5-6 says ” I wait on the Lord, my whole being waits and in his word I put my hope.  I wait for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for morning, more than watchman wait for the morning.” NIV

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Dear Father, thank You for being everything we need.  While we wait for You to do great and mighty things, we wait with a joyful expectancy.  We know that as we wait on You, Lord, You will move in a mighty way.  Dear Lord, even in the midst of chaos,  we still wait with an expectancy knowing You already have the victory.  While we wait, Lord,  we wait with our whole beings and we stand firm on the promises of  Your word.  Lord, we thank You that we can walk by faith and not by sight, confidently expecting Your promises to be fulfilled in our lives. In Jesus’ mighty and precious name, amen and amen again!

 

Have You Remembered The Lord?

There is no doubt this posture of social/physical distancing and quarantine is impacting most of us in the world today.  Do you believe God is doing something in the land to get our attention? As I asked God to give me something to encourage myself and others, He turned my attention to the book of Jonah. You remember the story of Jonah and the whale, don’t you?

The Bible tells us that Jonah had been given an assignment from God to go to Nineveh to preach to people who were in desperate need of a life changing revival.   In the 1st chapter of Jonah, we learn the people in Nineveh were evil and that Jonah did not want to go preach to them.  Jonah made the decision not to go to Nineveh, and he boarded a ship to Tarshish in an attempt to flee God’s presence and to get far away from the people of Nineveh.

Jonah was on a ship with men who worshipped other gods. When a storm arose over the waters, they started praying to their gods. When the storm continued, they went to Jonah who was asleep.  They insisted Jonah call out to his god in hopes they would not perish.  They even cast lots to figure out who on board the ship may be the reason for the raging storm.

After casting lots that pointed to Jonah, the men knew Jonah was the one who had brought trouble upon the ship with the storm raging over the waters.  At this point, Jonah had to tell them he was a Hebrew and he worshipped the God of the heavens, the God who made the seas and the dry land.  The men realized Jonah was running from God’s presence and this brought great fear on them. When they questioned what needed to be done as the storm grew worse, Jonah told them to throw him overboard.  He knew he was to blame and this was the answer to calm the storm.  At first the men tried to throw cargo overboard and head back to shore. However, the storm continued and they threw Jonah overboard, as he had told them.  This was great for the men because the storm was calmed, but not so great for Jonah! Jonah knew he had to physically distance himself from the men and the ship in order for the men to survive.  Because their lives were spared, these same men who did not know the god Jonah worshipped, began to fear the Lord and make vows of sacrifice to Him.

The last verse in Chapter 1 of the book of Jonah tells us that a great fish swallowed Jonah and he was in the belly of this great fish for 3 days and 3 nights.  Jonah was running from God and from a god-given assignment, when he got quarantined in a belly of a fish for 3 days!  This was a quarantine orchestrated by God. God had Jonah’s attention and Jonah had to decide what he was going to do.

Chapter 2 of the book of Jonah tells us how Jonah started to pray while he was in the belly of this great fish.  He says he was distressed, and that he cried out to the Lord.  He was in the realm of the dead and waters swirled all around him.  Jonah said when he saw his life ebbing away that he remembered the Lord and his prayer rose to the Lord’s holy temple. Jonah knew God heard his prayers and God answered him.  Then Jonah began to praise God.  He said “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.  But, I with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you.  What I have vowed I will make good. I will say salvation comes from the Lord” (v.7-9).  Upon hearing Jonah’s prayers and praise, the Lord commanded the fish and it spit Jonah back onto dry land.

It would appear from Jonah’s story that he found himself in a situation where prayer was his best and only way to get God to answer him.  I truly believe this is where we are today.  We are in quarantined environments where the best thing we can do is remember God; remember who He is in our lives and pray so that He hears us in His holy temple.

During these past few weeks, have you remembered God?  Have you spent more time with Him? Have you opened up your Bible more and meditated on His Word? Have you remembered how He has provided and protected you over the years?  Have you remembered that He has never left you or forsaken you? Have you remembered He can speak to the wind and calm the storm? Have you remembered Who He is? Have you remembered He is Lord?

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Dear Lord, thank You for turning our attention back to You and reminding us of the love You have for us. Thank You for hearing our cries of distress and for answering our prayers.  Forgive us for clinging to worthless idols. Thank You, Lord, for giving us another chance to remember You.  Lord, we honor You with praise you so richly deserve.  In Jesus’ mighty name, amen!

Jonah 2:7 “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.”

What Will You Say To Your Mountain?

 

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Matthew 17:18-21(NIV) tells us ” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.  Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why, couldn’t we drive it out? He replied “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”

A mustard seed of faith against a mountain?  Can you visualize that picture?  Do you know how small a mustard seed is and how big mountains can be? And when you look at what Jesus said, that is exactly what he meant.   Yes, a mustard seed is very small.  Yes, mountains are huge.  However, if you trust and believe just a little bit, you will be surprised as to how things can move mightily in your circumstances!

When challenges and frustrations start to overwhelm you, speak to them just as Jesus said to speak to the mountain.  When you feel you are under attack, rebuke the schemes of the enemy just like Jesus did over the little boy.  So often, we see how God blesses and/or delivers others and we don’t understand why our prayers did not manifest into the blessings and actions we spoke.  Could it be we have focused too much on our mountain and not enough on our faith? Today, I encourage you to focus on your faith, no matter how small or weak your faith may be, speak to your mountain and believe it can be moved. Sometimes the mountain is not as close to you as you think it is, and when you keep trusting God the mountain starts to get smaller and eventually disappears from your circumstances.  All you have to do is have a mustard seed of faith and believe that nothing is impossible.  Can believe in your faith in God enough to move the mountain? What will you say to your mountain?

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Dear Heavenly Father, I come before you today with just a mustard seed of faith.  And, with this tiny seed of faith, I believe that my situation is already better.  I believe that mountain of frustration is moved; I believe the financial obstacle is no longer in my way; I believe that all manner of sickness and disease in my body is gone. I believe the enemy is under my feet and no longer in my way. I believe you are taking my mustard seed of faith and showing me that nothing is impossible, and that I can speak to the mountain in my life and it shall move. Right now I am telling the mountain with my mustard seed of faith  to move!  In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen and Thank You!

 

 

 

I Thought The Chair Was Empty

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As I write this blog, I am visiting a location near Cleveland, Ohio.   When I left South Carolina the other day the temperature was 81 degrees, and  when I arrived in Ohio the next day, it was 39 degrees.  Driving through the streets to get to this charming apartment in Ohio, I could see what was left of a light blanket of snow that had fallen the night before. It’s always fascinating for me to see snow blanket the ground and rooftops, especially before it gets too messy.

I share this with you because this morning, I find myself sitting alone at breakfast having a bagel and coffee. (It’s cold outside and right now I am not ready to venture out the front door.)  There are only two chairs at this table and the “empty” one is directly across from me.  As I looked at the “empty” chair, I began to think what if Jesus was sitting in this empty chair and what would I say to Him?

Immediately, I began to think I would tell Him about things in my life I did not get right.  I would tell Him about the wrong decisions I made and how my thoughts and actions often got me into some messy situations. I would let Him know that my heart had been broken a few times and how I had struggled with forgiveness.   I figured if I brought all of this up myself, He wouldn’t have to tell me about how I mishandled things.  As I looked across at what I thought was an  “empty” chair, I heard Him say to me “I love you”.  There was no bringing up the past.  There was no making me feel ashamed. It was just those three words, “I love you.”

As I sat across from this chair with tears and rejoicing in the revelation it was not really  an empty chair, I felt so blessed. It is such a great feeling to know you are loved unconditionally.  Others may bring up your past and remember all the bad stuff,  but not God.  The Bible tells us that He knew each one of us before we were formed in our mothers’ wombs. He knows all about us and He knows what we are going to say and do before we even utter a word or make a move.  He loves us in spite of the mistakes He knew we would make. He is such a loving and compassionate God.

As I took another look at this chair, I began to thank God for blessing me today with His presence, His love and His amazing grace.   The chair in front of me was filled with compassion, strength, joy, peace, hope and most importantly it was filled with the love of Christ.  Whenever Jesus is seated at the table with you, the chair is never empty.

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“Lord, You know everything there is to know about me.  You perceive every moment of my heart and soul, and You understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.   You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and You know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence!   You know every step I will take before my journey even begins. You’ve gone into my future and prepared the way, and in kindness You follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With Your hand of love upon my life, You impart a blessing to me. This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.”

Psalm 139:1-7 The Passion Translation

 

 

A View Versus A Vision!

 

The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17)

We do not see what God sees.  We see what is currently in front of us and God sees our future, our destiny and our purpose. We have a view but God has a vision.  A view is the actual extent or range of your vision.  Vision is the power of anticipating that which may come to be! In the scripture above, Abram had a view of the land in front of him. The vision was in the length and breadth of all the land and the offspring to come.  The view to Abram was that he and his wife, Sarai, were too old to have children.  The vision was the offspring that would be too numerous to count!

Our view is so much different from God’s vision.  We see our current situation and God sees what will come to pass.

The view is the struggle; the vision is the victory!

The view is the cancer; the vision is the healing!

The view is the unemployment; the vision is the new business!

The view is living from paycheck to paycheck; the vision is the harvest!

The view is the  problem; the vision is the praise!

Abram was a man of great faith.  He made a decision to trust and believe in God’s promises to him.  As he walked through the length and breadth of the land, he experienced some setbacks and some situations, but he kept on walking in faith.   Are you focusing on your current view right now? Or has God given you a vision?  Continue walking in faith.  God has plans to prosper you and give you hope for your future!

Don’t give up!

Don’t let the view distract you!

The vision is so much better!

To the persecutors of Jesus, the view was death on the Cross.  The vision was eternal life and salvation!

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Dear Lord, I am thankful that you have better things in store for me than I what I can see right now. I am thankful that Your vision will bring me through this current view that I have.  I am leaning and trusting on You, Dear Father, as I take this walk of faith to get to where You would have me to be!  In Jesus’ name, I say Amen!