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Aim High!

“He did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father; he did according to all that Joash his father had done. ” 2 Kings 14:3

In some cases, it’s ok to be mediocre. No one can be the best at everything and some things are not important enough to deserve our energy and time.

Other things, however, mean so much that they deserve our utmost.

I speak specifically to your heart toward God. Today’s verse gives a chilling description of the heart of King Amaziah. At first it sounds like he was getting a glowing review: he did right in the sight of God. The description quickly darkens when it says he didn’t do right like his ancestor David, a man after God’s own heart. King Amaziah was satisfied being “good enough”.

Call me an overachiever, but I want to do more than just get by in my walk with God. I want to be a woman after God’s own heart. I don’t want there to be any area of my life that I am satisfied with the bronze or tin when the gold of knowing God deeper is available by His grace.

How about you?

When we start talking about being pleasing to God, the mind automatically looks at the mountain of times we failed before, but that’s not where we should focus. We must focus on the power God offers to help us persevere and overcome. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

It begins with repentance and surrender. Are there morals you have let slip? Have you given up striving to hear Him say, “well done” because it seems nobody else is trying? The benefits of following hard after God far outweigh the “pleasures” of mediocrity. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

The cross was God’s way of reaching low to save us. Our best response is to aim high in pleasing Him.

When God Changes Your Plans

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

Planning is a necessary part of life; it helps you to organize and maximize how you spend your time. God delights when you channel your efforts to keep your priorities straight. Have you ever been sure you were doing what you were supposed to be doing only to feel like God dropped a giant “DETOUR” sign in your path? Maybe it was an unexpected pregnancy, a financial crisis, or a health issue you did not see coming. Life interruptions take all forms and it is natural for a little confusion or anxiety to set in as you try to make sense of them.

As a follower of Christ, you have a marvelous place to unload and to make sense of these divergences: the sovereignty of God. The truth is, you can do your best to follow what you believe is God’s plan, but you never have it down to a science. Because you are in a relationship with the Omniscient One, you will never be privy to all the information you need. You have something better: the knowledge that He is in complete control, that He loves you, and that His plan is always best. Never forget that the Almighty has the right to change your plans in any way He deems best. This is the way of the blood-bought believer. The true servant of God has no greater agenda than to carry out the program of the Master which may mean an unexpected change of plans.

Question: In what way has God changed your plans? How did you feel at first? What did you learn from the experience?

Pray. Hurl. Repeat.

Cast all your anxiety upon him for he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

What is bothering you, My Friend? What in your life is weighing you down and clouding your heart? In the few quiet moments of your day, what keeps coming to the forefront of your mind and making you sigh with discouragement or worry or concern?

Jesus Cares. Maybe you already know that, but you need to hear it again. Jesus cares.

The cross was not just for your salvation, it was and still is a place to hurl off your burdens. This does not mean that the burden disappears, it just shifts to His capable shoulders. He wants to make a trade with you: your heavy burden for His light one, your anxiety for His peace, and your discouragement for His hope.

“How do I do that,” you may be asking. The transaction involves an honest prayer. It helps to remind yourself of the power and authority and majesty of your Burden-Bearer. Recount His love for you and then intentionally shift your heart’s heavy cargo to Him. Consider it now His problem to solve, His assignment to guide you out of the fog while you walk with the lightness and trust of a child.

If the heaviness returns, do it again. Got it?

Pray. Hurl. Repeat.

To Achieve More This Year, Do Less!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Yes, you read that right: do less this year. You stand a better chance at success if you do only a few things well than too many things poorly. God is a God of order and His agenda can be a lot to do, but He gives strength to do only what He calls you to do. Perhaps in the past you (like me) have misappropriated that strength on good things at the expense of the best. The new year is a perfect opportunity to look at your list of goals and shave them down. No need to worry about what that means for the the things that end up on the shaving room floor. God is capable of assigning someone else to those things, and you both can be ok with some things being incomplete. Excluding things from your life does not mean you will never be able to do them; they just need to bow to other things right now. If your goal is to glorify God with your life, prioritizing is a must. Even Jesus did it (John 5:19).

How can you know what God wants you to do and what He wants to eliminate? Ask Him. Watch His activity in your life and keep your spiritual ears open when you read His Word. Do not make this a painstaking activity, hearing from God is a natural part of walking with Him. Keep your heart yielded, and He will show you what to do and what not to do.

Doing less is not being lazy, it is allowing space for God to do much as you abide in Him. Jesus said you bear much fruit as you abide in Him (John 15:5).

As the year wears on, other things may try to crowd out God’s priorities. Consider writing down what needs to have top rank and putting it in a place you will see everyday. Distractions are like pests: the best way to combat them is through daily maintenance.

May this be a year of watching God do amazing things in you, for you, and through you, My Friend. May you look back and marvel at how much you accomplished by doing less compared to what your natural self and the world around you demands.

Happy New Year!

Believe!

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45

I am intrigued at how faith raised the eyebrow of Jesus like nothing else. The Canaanite woman believed He would heal her daughter even after Jesus blew her off. Jesus marveled at her faith and granted her request (Matthew 15:28). Then there was the centurion soldier who told Jesus He did not even need to be in the same room to heal his suffering servant, that all He needed was to speak and the sickness would obey the command to leave. The Bible says Jesus was amazed at the centurion’s faith (Matthew 8:10).

Is He amazed by your faith in Him?

The Christmas story has no lasting impact on your life if you don’t believe it. Christ was born, crucified, and resurrected for more than a warm, fuzzy, and positive feeling this time of year. Christmas is about God coming for you. It is deeply personal. The only way to lay hold of all Christ intended for you is to believe (John 6:47). Believe not just with your mind, but with your heart. Put your full weight of faith in Who He is (the Messiah, the Promised One) and what He promises (eternal life for all who believe).

When Mary went to visit Elizabeth, Elizabeth spoke the words in our verse for today. She spoke of her belief bringing blessing. May your belief in Christ as the Savior of the World unleash the mountain of gifts that were in the heart of the One Who sent Him.

Christ the Savior is born! Believe and be blessed!

When You Say “Yes” to God

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38)

When you say yes to God, folks might think you are crazy, and you may risk compromising your standing in your family or in the community. Just ask Mary and Joseph.

When you say yes to God, your activities might make no sense to onlookers and yet they make perfect sense through the eyes of faith.

Saying yes to the Almighty means getting out of the driver’s seat of your life and relinquishing all control of a myriad of what- if’s. It is the highest form of both vulnerability and confidence that everything is going to be alright. Mary and Joseph both signed blank checks made out to God, are you willing to do the same?

Christmas is the celebration of a long-delayed promise kept and the guarantee of everlasting life that begins the moment you receive it (John 1:12) How awesome for Mary and Joseph to have had any part in the marvelous story of getting the Gift to the whole world to its destination. That’s how God likes to do it with folks who say yes to Him, He uses them to make a difference, to fulfill an awesome purpose.

Have you said yes to God yet? To say yes to Him is to say yes to Jesus, His Son. He says you can’t do it separately; to reject One is to reject them Both (John 10:30 and John 14:9)

To say yes to your Creator is to open yourself up to divine adventure, amazing purpose, and eternal salvation. Nobody else can top that. What are you waiting for? Say yes to God today in whatever He asks.

The Virgin Birth: A Really Big Deal!

Christmas is no big deal without the Virgin Birth. Without it, Jesus was just a prophet, a really nice guy who suffered a brutal murder. So much of His story would make no sense if God was not the Father Who caused His conception. His mother would be a liar, and the miracles Jesus performed would have been only a scam for attention.

The Virgin Birth is not that hard to believe if you understand God can do anything (Luke 1:37). Why is it such a stretch to believe that the One Who determined the regular way to get pregnant can also do it supernaturally? If He can speak creation into being, then leading wise men by a star is not that hard to believe, is it?

Everything is riding on the Virgin Birth of Jesus, the Son of God. Faith in this one fact opens the door to everything else God promised from Heaven to His daily presence in tough times to power to live this life with purpose.

The Virgin Birth is true, and it is a really big deal!

Because all of it is true, let us celebrate the birth of the One and Only Messiah. He is worthy of adoration and worship because He came just the way the prophecies said He would: sinless and perfectly holy by the conception of His Father through a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 53:9.

Hallelujah and amen!

Happy Thanksgiving

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord….” Psalm 92:1

What a wonderful time of year when we pause to itemize our blessings. You are pausing, aren’t you? Yes, we give thanks to the Father daily, but would it not be a special gift to offer words of gratitude in a different way than usual? We love to hear the words of love from those near to us, but then there are times when we enjoy special words like on our birthday or anniversary or at an honoring event. Even in His sovereignty, majesty, and self-sufficiency , God still enjoys the same intentional gift from His children.

Enjoy the turkey, dressing, and desserts, My Friend. Celebrate God’s goodness and give Him extra praise this Thanksgiving season.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. I am grateful for your encouragement and love, and I send a special thanks for every time you take time to read what I have written, to pass it on to encourage someone else, or make a comment.