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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.

Speak the Truth

“Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.” Ephesians 4:25 (NLT)

My Friends, do not be afraid to speak the truth. What good does it do to know the truth if we are too afraid to tell it? So many try to travel on opposite sides at the same time by saying things like, “Well, God says we are to do this and such, but you do what is best for you.” Truth alert: Whatever God says to do IS what is best! When we become so timid about telling people what the Lord said plus nothing, we are practically endorsing the very thing He opposes! We are called to be salt and light. Salt enhances the flavor of things and light pushes out the darkness. Does that sound like the affect YOU are having on your watch?

Speak the truth in love with gentleness and respect, but speak it! Let us divorce our desire to be well-liked and instead marry the determination to be loyal to the Lord and His Word no matter what.

Today I encourage you to ask the Lord to search your heart and de-bug it of people pleasing, fear of rejection, and loyalty to our own reputation at the expense of truth. Ask Him for courage when the temptation to be silent at the wrong time is strong. Ask Him to help you be bold enough to speak the truth.

Let’s Serve!

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1Peter 4:10

The church cannot afford to have anybody sitting on their hands doing nothing but coming to church. The need is too great! There are too many hurting people for just a few to accomplish God’s plan to encourage, serve, teach, edify, listen to, sponsor, pray for, win back, advise, feed, counsel, mentor, evangelize, disciple, visit, coach, text, hug, educate, and everything in between.

I have observed three main reasons for the ministry manpower issue. The first is insecurity: people think they do not know enough or have enough experience to help. This would be a valid excuse if we did not serve a God Who empowers us and promises we can do all things through His strength. (Philippians 4:13; 2 Timothy 1:7) It is time to call insecurity the liar it is and step out to see how true God’s promises are (2 Corinthians 1:20).

The second reason the unemployment line in the church is so long is a matter of priority. “I would love to help, but I do not have the time,” we say. Everyone gets the same daily allotment of time. Few of us have all twenty-four hours booked with obligations every single day. Rest and recreation are important, but most of us have an excess of “me time.” We have become so accustomed to having it that the idea of shaving a couple of hours off to serve someone else seems like major surgery. Once we step out and see the way God is using us to make a difference, we have joy as we realize we do not miss the time as much as we thought we would.

Third, we think serving is an option. As followers of Christ whom God infused with at least one spiritual gift each, how can we fall for the options lie? We are not our own, we were bought with a price; therefore we all have an assignment. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). No exceptions or excuses. What that looks like will be unique to each of us, but serve we must. Besides, our coming to Christ was the result of someone’s decision to be obedient to serve. It is time to pay it forward.

Now, what is God calling YOU to do about the mountain of needs we face in this world, My Friend? Let’s get out there and serve!

Easter means Victory!

“Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

Photo by Georgia Pointer

If there has ever been a time when we need the hope of Easter, it is now! With a pandemic devouring lives and livelihoods, politics revealing the blackest of motives, and violence crouching at the door of every public place, focus on the resurrection is a welcome diversion and confident hope.

I am sure that you who know Jesus are feeling the heaviness of these times like I am. Without Easter, this life would be the best we could hope for. Despair would wear a grove in our minds and the hereafter would be even worse. Thanks be to God, because He raised His Son from the clutches of our worst enemy, we can sing while the world rains down its worst. We have a glorious, invisible place to fix our eyes while the newscasters flood our screens with heartbreaking images day after day. That empty grave means evil does not win, and in every difficulty we can more than overcome.

We already have the victory, My Friend, we only need to lift our eyes of faith to behold it. In Christ, whatever we are facing already has our boot print on its neck! We can let trouble talk it’s treacherous trash knowing that the Risen One will always have the final word. Easter changes everything. Easter means victory!

When You belong to Jesus

Photo provided by Kathy Rainwater

“You are not your own, you were bought at a price.” I Corinthians 6:19-20

The world sees belonging to Jesus as bondage, restriction, and the absence of all things fun. Those of us who know Him understand that the opposite is true. To be a handmaiden to the King of Kings is the highest station one can hold. No other master has ever given so much for the security of his servants. We understand that any “no” is an “I love you.” We believers have experienced the peace that comes from doing hard things and leaving the consequences with Him. We understand that while we wait for that ultimate rest, we have power, bankrolled by the cross, to battle in an invisible war with weapons not of this world. Because we belong to Jesus, we revel in a love that will never let us go and that frees us to be all He made us to be.

As for fun, the fence of His commands hem us in so that we may have full-throttle freedom within the widest of fields the Good Shepherd provides for us. Because He did not spare the best He had, we have the joy of what seems like a reckless trust that in reality is a knowledge that anywhere He forbids us go is nothing we needed in the first place.

An easy life it is not; that will come on the other side. The Master has no fine print, He warned us that our journey here involves taking up a cross, tribulation, and suffering. He also assured us that we would never walk alone and that our victory is a foregone conclusion. That’s how it is when you are forever bound with the cords of His love. That’s how it is when you belong to Jesus.

In Times Like These

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season.” 2 Timothy 4:2

When troubled times come, you and I have work to do. Those around us need godly direction and the Lord has appointed us to give it. Do not think that you must be eloquent or that you need a special skill to be the light in dark situations. My friend, if you belong to Christ through faith in Him, you already possess the Light, you just need to let it shine!

Refuse to be distracted by political unrest. Your marching orders are still the same in season and out of it. These difficult days are merely a current that brings the fish closer to salvation’s net, an earthquake forcing earth’s inhabitants to look up when all they trusted in is unstable. You are appointed, in your own circle of influence, to be the voice that points your charges to Christ. May the Lord give you boldness, strength, and love that overrides fear in times like these.

The Depth of Christmas

Colossians 2:10. “and you are complete in him….”

Whatever your deepest need, the answer can be found in the Christ of Christmas.

I recently witnessed a woman in desperate need of the father of her baby to declare his love in a permanent commitment. She would never form the words, “Ask me to marry you,” but everything she did said those words for her. The man seemed clueless, and her frustration was palatable.

Human beings can never fulfill us the way Jesus can. As women, we want to be wanted, to be cherished and for someone to show we are worth whatever it takes to win us. It is no exaggeration to say that Christ leaving Heaven to come to earth and suffer crucifixion is the quintessential expression of love! This should forever settle the deep question of our worth no matter who rejects us.

Rejoice that Christ’s coming had in mind the fulfillment of all your deepest needs. Embrace Him in gratitude for all He has done, My Friend. May the rehearsal of His intention in coming merry your heart in its deepest places this Christmas season!

From Here To Him

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear….” 1 Peter 3:15

Phillip got the call from God to go to a desert road to share the gospel with an Ethiopian eunuch. The African was reading a Scripture that sparked questions, and God, in His grace, supplied someone to answer them. I love that the Bible says that “Phillip opened His mouth and beginning from the Scripture he preached Jesus to him.” Phillip started from where the man was and beat a path straight to the cross. Is there any road that God’s Spirit cannot hack through to the cross?

This holiday season is an ideal time to talk about Jesus to people who do not know Him. They are already singing about Him. Christmas is a blaring conversation piece for sharing the gospel. I encourage you, My Friend, to ask the Lord to open your eyes to those opportunities in which many are in an ideal place to consider the real reason for this season!

A Merry Thanksmas!

Photo by Georgia Pointer

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

We are one day past Thanksgiving Day (I hope yours was a happy one) and now we begin the Christmas season. I know you have heard the complaints about folks who tread on the face of Thanksgiving in the mad rush toward Christmas.

I ask you, why do the two holidays have to be mutually exclusive? Did the coming of Christ not usher in a whole list of new reasons for gratitude? Salvation, identity, power, and eternal security are just the tip of the mountain of gifts lavished on us by the Good, Good Father. How can anything stifle the giving of thanks in the face of all that the coming of the Christ Child ushered in for us? The challenge lies in being intentional about itemizing each blessing of Christ’s birth during this busy season.

I challenge you, My Friends, throughout this season to engage in the rich exercise of thankful enumeration of what the birth of Jesus means for your life and your future. Reflect while you drive. Ruminate while standing in line. Meditate on it while you bake. When you feel you have exhausted your list, you will have only scratched the surface. Ask the Father to open your eyes to see even more; He will gladly do it! The result cannot help but be a cornucopia of praise, worship, and gratitude, and celebration. It will be a happy blend of Thanksgiving and Christmas: a merry Thanksmas!

PS. I would love to hear your reflections as they come to you. It’s always more fun when we do it together. I will share mine in the comments throughout this season and I invite you to join me!