Be Strong…Do Not Be Frightened and…Do Everything In love…But How?!

 

owl edited-2

Be Strong…Do Not Be Frightened and…Do Everything In love…But How?!

Joshua 1:9 (ESV) 9  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV) 13  Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 14  Do everything in love.

It is sometimes hard, isn’t it? Being courageous, standing firm in our faith and yes…doing everything in love. Home is sometimes the place we fail the most and then…go out and put on a good show for others.

Even when we do things with a seemingly loving attitude, we can be struggling inside to feel truly loving, or strong or courageous.

It reminds me of the story of the little boy who had been told to sit down, but really wanted to keep playing around. He slowly and reluctantly sat down and then said to his mom, “I’m sitting down on the outside but I am standing up on the inside!” Time for an attitude adjustment…a heart change!

God is the giver of good gifts. Loving or courageous actions sometimes take pure discipline…the type of determination where you are pushing yourself forward and maybe quietly gritting your teeth, complaining under your breath about the reasons this is hard or how much credit you deserve for just being nice!

But who gave us the desire to love well in the first place? The desire alone is a gift.

Being strong and courageous, not being dismayed or frightened…we cannot do that on our own, either. The desire and the ability are a gift…from Him.

Not enough desire or strength to do what you know you need to do? Prayer… is a gift. Pray…ask…receive. We don’t often receive immediately, of course.

He tells us to persevere. We don’t always have it in us to persevere. So…since He wouldn’t tell us to do something He wouldn’t equip us to do…pray. Seek strength through His word. Then…do what you might have already known that you were supposed to do in the first place but now…with His strength in and through you.

Since prayer, His word and the Holy Spirit in us will cause us to become more aware that it all comes from Him, surely we can be more patient, even expectant, as we carry through on what we know is right and then…watch as His love, endurance and courage become more a part of who we really are!

Romans 5:3-5 (AMP) 3  Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. 4  And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. 5  Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.

 

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Are you tired of making excuses for the powerlessness of God?…

church clouds

Are you tired of making excuses for the powerlessness of God? For example, your teen doesn’t do life in the God-fearing way that you raised him/her from the time they were little. You comfort yourself with, “When he is more mature…he will come back to God…to what he was taught.” Yet…He moves into adulthood and begins living out his poor example in front of his own children.

So, you say, “Well…he/she has choice.” Or “God has an overarching plan that we don’t understand.” Meanwhile…whole generations are being wrongly influenced…lost…not really living.

Whole generations are not living. They have continued to make poor choices, despite the prayers of moms and dads…sisters, brothers and friends.

We move helplessly forward, repeating our belief that, “Each person has choice…God will not override our choices.”

Yes…yes…all true.

But then…what happens to a promise like:

“I will give them a heart to know me, for I am the Lord; and they will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with their whole heart.” Jeremiah 24:7

And

“The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.” Deuteronomy 30:6

These verses prove the heart of God, not just toward the Israelites of old, but toward us and our descendants…the ones He loves and for whom He cares!

Remember, our loved ones (or friends) may not be asking for a cleaned-up perspective but we are asking for them! Then…why do their poor choices consistently seem to outweigh our prayers?

26  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

Priscilla Shirer says about this verse, “This is a heart that is tender and alive again…beating and responsive again – engaged again – able to believe again!”

Isn’t this what we long for ourselves and…for those we love?

Do you see it? God isn’t saying, “You have to do this for yourself.” He is saying, “I will…I will…I will.”

Granted, we have loved ones who are not choosing God’s ways. But when they continue to choose poorly, surely our continual mantra should not be, “He/she has choice, so…God will not override his/her choice.”

We all know that there are those who have hardened their own hearts. But are we aiding some hard hearts by our lack of faith-filled…Scripture infused prayer? Do we spend more time asking God for their redemption than we do trying to find something new to say or do to “help them” (or manipulate them) to choose God?

There are times we take one terrible defeat that we have experienced with one person who did harden his heart and we drag that defeat into the next experience we have where someone is making poor (even terrible) decisions. Once again, we say… “He has choice.” Are we then accepting defeat after defeat in the lives of those we love and then making excuses for the powerlessness of God and why He didn’t (couldn’t) do a work in their lives?

Surely something is wrong.

Perhaps we should quit fretting or trying so hard to convince the obstinate…sin-stubborn ones in our lives and get on our knees…again and again. First about our own sin of neglect and our poor example and then for the heart of the one we love. Oh yes, I know, we have prayed. But, can we honestly compare the time we have tried to convince them (or fretted over them) to the time we have spent on our knees praying God’s word for them?

Remember, His word increases our faith to pray with  hope rather than with hearts weak with hopelessness. His word enables us and equips us to pray with fervent faith.

What would happen, if every time we thought of one more thing to say or do to help our loved one “see the light”…we saw that as a signal to stop what we are doing and pray these (and other) Scriptures for them? What would happen if every time that sick feeling, that awful gnawing hits us…we recognized our alarm as the alarm sending us to our knees to pray God’s almighty, powerful word on their behalf?

What would happen if this kind of faith-filled, Scripture-infused prayer was part of our morning routine?

I have begun. Want to join me?

I want to see God…

Change the Generations!

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He Goes Ahead of You…Will Not Forsake You…Do Not Fear or Be Dismayed!

Squirrel maybe 2

He Goes Ahead of You…Will Not Forsake You…Do Not Fear or Be Dismayed!

 How many times a day do I fear…do you fear? Maybe we don’t even realize but something is causing us to dread.

I love this verse!

 Deuteronomy 31:8 (NASB) 8  “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Almighty, loving God is assuring us that He is with us and then He is telling us to take action based on His presence and love. Do you not find it astonishing that He is constantly with us? He even goes ahead of us! Is it not a powerful thought that He will not fail us or forsake us? How can His words…these thoughts help but bring us hope (assurance)?

Surely we can move forward with more strength knowing this…remembering this loving, powerful verse!  Maybe we simply need to throw out certain fears based on what He is saying here. Maybe we can reach out to a certain someone who makes us nervous or uncomfortable. Maybe there is a job application we are avoiding. Maybe there is an apology we know we should make. Maybe there is something or someone we know we need to walk away from. The list of fears and choices is different for each of us.

At this very moment, there is a little squirrel outside my window in the tree. He noticed me and initially was feeling pretty brave about it. Suddenly, fear has set in and his tail is switching furiously. He is hunched down debating on whether to run down the tree or up…or just be really still and hope I won’t see him. He’s a wreck. I want to tell Him that it is okay…He has nothing to fear…I am His friend.

Oh good…it looks like he has decided to be brave. Even his tail is calm! Now bold again…he is on his hind legs looking for more tree-things to nibble on. He has chosen to get on with squirrel life. He looks so free now, as he bounces around.

Especially after watching his tension…observing his fears…his freedom makes me smile.

I think that is the way God feels about us, being the Perfect Parent that He is. He assures us repeatedly of his love and care. He patiently and persistently encourages us to make the choice to do life knowing He is with us, rather than staying frozen in our fears.

He loves us fiercely and doesn’t want us to give up the very opportunities (and resulting character changes) that would bring us (and those around us) joy and purpose and draw each of us continually closer to Him.

You can be strong again…you can even be brave…you can be free!

After all, “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

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Feeling Like You…Need a Rope?

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Feeling Sad or Stuck…Need a Rope?

Friday’s Blog: mannasplace.wordpress.com

Ever have those mornings when you feel really sad…like trying to climb/claw your way out of a dirt hole that is way too tall to climb out of on your own? You know…the sides are crumbling a bit and the sadness is big enough that you need someone to throw you a rope.

I have learned that the rope is most often my quiet time. A few days ago, I wasn’t really sure why I was feeling so sad and not sure I could figure it out. The thing is…I wasn’t so sure I wanted to try to figure it out. Still…I did what I always do…started the day with coffee and my quiet time. This morning I read my quarterly. It is something I have shunned quite a bit through the years. My memories as a kid were that the material was dry and whoever wrote it asked redundant questions.

These days, however, since my husband teaches Bible study (though he doesn’t particularly use much of the quarterly) I like to prepare for Sundays and I have actually found the meaningful. There are other things I do during my quiet time…but this morning…the quarterly.

As I read the first verses in Psalm along with the written material, I started out wondering why I was so sad. I feel like I am walking in His ways…where am I missing the boat?

I was confused. But I remembered the verse that says, “God is not the author of confusion…” (I Cor. 14:33). It wasn’t part of the quarterly lesson but that is our God! We take time to seek Him…He will show us the way.

As I read and prayed, He began to clarify for me why I was sad. Some things I can do something about. Some things I need to pray and keep leaving to Him. He will be guiding me through the maze and so…why so sad?

If He is not the author of confusion, and He works all thing together for our good and His glory, then if I am walking closely with Him…seeking, confessing and obeying…why do I slip into sadness?

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (ESV) 7  But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

As we seek Him through His word and prayer…the lies are replaced with His thoughts, His perspective. The peace returns. Depending on the situation, the doubts (lies) may creep back in within the hour or…the next day or a week from now. But…our God is faithful. He is our Perfect Parent. He is patient with us…loving. He delights that we come to Him…again and again. He wants to clarify our thoughts…assure us over and over where we need assurance.

He never tires of loving us in every way that He knows will nourish us. He does know the way. He is the Truth and the Life.

John 14:6 (ESV) 6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Rest assured…He can bring you back to peace and joy. He is your rope! Your part is to sit with Him and seek His ways…His perspective. Then…hang on tight!

His Truth is the only Truth and Truth…rescues and heals.

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV) 28  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

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You are…I am…Called to Greatness!

Ash britt railroad tracks from back crop

You are…I am…Called to Greatness!

“God made you to leave a mark in this world. There are some people who don’t leave any mark. When they die, nothing really changed. They didn’t help anybody. They didn’t take anybody to heaven with them. They didn’t accomplish what God wanted for their lives, so really it was a wasted life…even though God created them for greatness. Other people leave a mark but it is a bad mark and a lot of people have to get healed when they are gone. Some people are now living at a disadvantage because they were a consumer and an abuser.

But there are other people who leave a mark on the world and it is a righteous mark, and that is what God created you for. God created you for a great purpose.

One of the problems with the worldly concept of greatness is that we think, ‘Yes if I had a billion dollars, or if I save the world or am famous and powerful then that means greatness.’

Let me tell you something, in the eyes of God…a Mother…and a Father are great when they raise righteous children. You are great when you love people the way Jesus does. You are great if you help a disadvantage person, orphans, children. If you are a compassionate person.

Basically greatness means you fulfill God’s call on your life and if your life touches other people and glorifies God…you have done specifically what God calls you to do.

Once we are saved, we know that God intends us to do something specific to us. Maybe it is a musician, a teacher, a counselor, a business person, a mother, a father. God has called you to a life of greatness.”

                                                                                                                           Jimmy Evans

Think of King David. Oh, the ways God called him and equipped him. Generations later…God has called and equipped you!

Eventually David got sidetracked from that call and slept with another man’s wife and had the man murdered. Don’t you imagine he was tormented many days, wondering how he had “gotten here”?

As is always the case, David’s sin caused his parenting to become sidetracked and eventually his son, Amnon, committed a terrible act against his half-sister, Tamar.

After two years of waiting for David to handle the situation, Tamar’s brother, Absalom, became completed enraged, took matters into his own hands. He arranged the murder of his half-brother, Amnon. Father and son…terrible sins…so very similar.

We know that God forgave a repentant David for the horrors of his sins but oh…the generational damage that was done.

It is no different for you and me. Dip our toe into the murky water and we are sidetracked. Eventually we can wake up to find ourselves so far off track that we don’t recognize our own lives.

David’s life shows that no matter how deep our sin, if we “turn” from our wicked ways, ask Him to forgive us and heal us and use us…He will.

There will almost always be damage…hurt…bad memories and guilt. So why do we choose our unwise ways rather than saying, “Not my way, Lord…but your way.”?

Let’s choose to stay on track. It is, after all, a choice! If we are off track, let’s get back on track now! Let’s recognize His desire to forgive and accept the truth of His mighty love. Let’s use the rest of our lives to bring glory to His name…joy back into our lives and the lives of those in our sphere.

We are called to greatness! Today…each day…let’s lean into His ways and wisdom and live out that greatness…our calling. There is immense joy in being able to celebrate the way your life is touching the lives of those around you!

Such fun…such a joy to do life His way. When you do…you will walk away from each God-directed encounter, feeling like you want to click your heals and knowing for sure… “This is what I was meant to do!”

James 4:13-17 (ESV) 13  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14  yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16  As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17  So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

 

 

 

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Am I a Part of the Cancer or the Healing…

Barn in winter

Am I Part of the Cancer or the Healing?

I always start my day with coffee, and reading something spiritually meaningful. From there, some days I write something God has put on my mind. It can be my Friday Blog (www.mannasplace.wordpress.com) or a note to someone the Holy Spirit puts on my mind.

In Ann Voskamp’s book, “The Broken Way”, she talks about how we have come to believe that we need bucket lists to make life more meaningful. Of course, bucket lists can be fun and make wonderful memories, once fulfilled.

In the meantime, what are we doing with our days…the ones that add up to our lives? Are we seeking to fulfill our own longings while possibly missing the needs of others God has put in our sphere of influence?

Have we yet realized that to be fulfilled…to truly live…to find joy…is to give of ourselves even in the smallest of ways?

She tells how she sat in the doctor’s office next to an older lady who quietly mentioned that she had cancer, “My doctor said that in our human bodies, the cells that only benefit themselves are known as cancer.”

Ann reworded it this way: “Cancer is what refuses to die to self”.

We live in a society that constantly feeds our desire for prosperity and self-satisfaction. A pastor used to put it this way: “Get what you can…can all you get…sit on the lid …and poison the rest”.

Even in the lives of believers…selfishness or self-protection sneaks in. Why? Because, on some level, we have believed the lie that to be satisfied is to protect ourselves…close off and “hold on to what is rightfully mine”. It is my “right” to lay out my life in a way that (I have been led to believe) is going to be the best for me and mine. Let others do that for themselves, while we do it for us!

In God’s upside down economy (which is really right side up)…He tells us the opposite.

We are meant for relationships…community. We are created to open up to others…to give.

Paradoxically…giving ourselves away brings us joy and healing and purpose. As only God would have it, as we reach out… we help the hurting friend, the empty one, to feel worthy through even the smallest of acts. Maybe just a smile, or a small conversation. Maybe just to “be”…truly be with your spouse, child or parent for an afternoon. A meal for a family who needs a lift. A plate of cookies to someone who is hurting. In the process…Christ is glorified.

Small acts of kindness…of God’s love…take intentionality, but are not necessarily complex or hard. Yet, with those small acts, the cancer is weakened…the lives of the giver and receiver begin healing and opening up, if even just a little.

We will begin to discover that when we give ourselves away… we are not diminished. Instead, we gain a deep and abiding joy…a sense of why we are truly here.

Finally! We see the truth and feel the thrill of our purpose.

It is a trinity of sorts:

  • Our lives touch the lives of others who desperately need a lift, no matter how tiny the act…
  • In the process, we gain the joy and purpose we have so badly needed…
  • The eyes of those in our sphere are opened to a more selfless life…and so…we bring glory to His Name.

How simple…what fun…what present and eternal value!

 Philippians 2:1-8 (ESV) 1  So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2  complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

 

 

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I Will Not Be Afraid, What Can Man Do to Me?…

Flowers Carlsbad Calif

Psalm 118:6 (NIV)
6  The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

My first thought as I read this verse was… “ A lot!” People break our hearts, wound us deeply, forever change our dreams, damage our ability to trust.

Of course, believing in the word of God forces me to get past my first thoughts to what this verse is truly saying.

The truth is…if I am a child of Almighty, All Powerful, All Knowing God…then He is on my side.

 Romans 8:31 (Phillips NT)  In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all – can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need?

Have you been lied to, betrayed, abused in some of the most vulnerable times of your life and by someone you should have been able to trust?

Then…you might also be answering that question in Psalm 118 with… “ A lot!”

But God wants us to see this through the filter of His Truth. Now I say to myself, “And in this tiny little 400 word blog…how can I paint a picture that helps anyone?

Sometimes my blogs just flow, and I thank God because it is He who gives us the desire and ability to put thoughts on paper. Occasionally, I get started writing and then get stumped…just stare at the paper for a while wondering how to express what I am thinking…wondering what I am thinking!

This has been one of those mornings, but after wandering in and visiting with my husband in his office, coffee with way too much cream and a few extra minutes thinking it all through in prayer…I believe I am ready to go again!:

The reason we don’t have to be afraid is not because we won’t be hurt deeply along the way but because God is for us! He is ever at work in us and through us. He is on our side and… He is on the side of those in our sphere for whom we are agonizing, praying and hoping in our God regarding!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (MSG) 16  So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. 17  These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. 18  There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

It is so important that we remember to come into His presence with thanksgiving. Before you start your day, or your prayer time…write down five things for which you are thankful. Even when (especially when) you don’t feel thankful…the days you feel mostly hurt or discouraged.

The first thing we can easily remember to be thankful for is that He is…always…always for us and for those we love!

 Psalm 100:1-5 (ESV)  Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 2  Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3  Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4  Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5  For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

 This obedient act of remembering the faithfulness of our God will bring you back to a renewed confidence…renewed hope and you will be able to say with the Psalmist:

Psalm 118:6 (NIV)
6  The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

 

 

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