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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.

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.

This Is Not a Competition

“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” 1 Corinthians 12:7

We are all on the same team if our goal is to glorify God, so why do we act as if this is a competition? Our culture encourages us to compete and compare, God does not. If we look under the ugly rock of competing in ministry, we either find sinful pride slithering there or the creepy crawling of jealousy. Both focus on self, not serving. Where, then, does God come into focus? He should be all we are thinking about and serving the best we can.

God gifted each of us to build up the body of Christ, not our own reputations. We are fellow laborers, not contestants. If we can help further develop someone else’s gift to make them shine brighter for Christ, we should not hoard what God has given us since the gift was never about us in the first place. Competition in the body of Christ shortchanges the ones we are called to serve. Why would any of us want to dim someone else’s light just so ours outshines theirs? Nothing about that looks anything like Jesus.

God has this gifting thing beautifully rigged so that we only win when we share. The needs of the world are big enough for all of us to find a dark place to shine. Throwing all of our gifts together makes a bigger bonfire of glory to God than our individual ones ever could.

Let us examine our hearts: “Lord, give us a generous spirit in working together in the beautiful partnership of ministry. Search us, O God, root out any hoarding, jealousy, and competing. Forgive us for turning your church into a corporation. Renew a right spirit within us and let our iron sharpen someone else’s iron so we both are sharper tools of sharing in your powerful hands. Amen. “

When You Don’t Understand Why

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

We humans love to have answers. Sometimes hard things go down a little easier when we have a concrete reason why life goes crazy. It is normal for our brains to try to make sense of things that do not compute. God is a great Comfort when He graces us with a C that answers A and B.

What about those times when He doesn’t? God’s silence can feel like meanness or apathy. We assume that because mean and uncaring people give us the silent treatment, God is doing the same by His silence. Not so. We must remember that if the Only Wise God is silent, we must not need the answer in the way we might think. He is incapable of evil motives, and when we look at the cross the question of His love should never cross our mind.

Just because our circumstance has not changed does not mean God has. Dead air from heaven speaks volumes if we choose to listen. Having no response is an invitation to see deeper than we would if He returned an answer in the way we hoped. Ask Him to guide you in this silent time. He will.

What then, is the best response to silence from the Almighty?

Trust.

Even when our mind says it doesn’t make sense, trust. You will be glad you did. His peace will hold your hand, and His love will put its arms around you while you wait. The God Who never does anything halfway will be faithful to complete what He started in you as you hold still in faith in His divine silence.

Take Heart!

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

If God is everywhere at all times (and He is) and has all power and knowledge, how can we doubt that He is in control?

Reading the book of Esther rekindled in me a fascination at the precision in God’s timing. I love how God inflicted insomnia on the king when Haman just happened to enter the palace to arrange to have his godly enemy killed, only to unknowingly write a prescription for his own death! My heart chuckles with delicious revenge when Haman is ordered to parade Mordecai through the streets loudly declaring the praise he thought he was going to get for himself.

Do you agree that it’s easy to see God’s timing and activity in this true account, but harder to see it in our own lives sometimes? We wonder if God is even working on our behalf, or we second-guess His willingness to make things happen for us.

Take heart, My Friend. God has not forgotten you nor has His power to work in your favor dwindled the least bit. What you need is patience and trust; patience to wait until He deems the time is right and trust that He will do what’s best when it’s best. Remember that His agenda is bigger than what you see and is worth whatever discomfort you may be experiencing right now. Besides, no one ever got a premature answer and been glad about it for long.

Because the all-seeing, all-knowing, all powerful God is also always faithful, you can be SURE He is even now causing all things to work together for good in your life. Don’t let your eyes do your believing for you; instead let your faith usher you all the way to the day when God fulfills His promise.

The World Needs you

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Don’t be fooled by their happy faces, they need Jesus! It is the cultural norm and pressure to look as though they have it all together, but do not believe it for a moment. They feel the emptiness inside and figure they just have to muddle through the best they can. They don’t know that joy and purpose await them in Christ. Jesus may be the last Place they think to look for fulfillment. Maybe in their mind He’s a buzz-kill, a wet blanket, and a trap to a bunch of rules they can’t keep. The Lord may even be Someone they saw others claim to know, but no power or example sparked to make Him attractive.

This is where you and I come in. We are a walking advertisement for the truth and power of the gospel of Jesus. Now, this is not an invitation to pretend to have it all together. This is not the addition of one more heavy brick to your already heavy list of “shoulds”. It is something much more amazing than that: an invitation to simply let Christ in you do the shining through everything you are already doing. Let Him shine through your smile, your demeanor, your work, and your responses. People will notice because so few people are doing that kind of shining. They are used to negativity, backbiting, cheating, and rudeness. Christ’s light shimmering through you will give them hope. Make mention of God’s goodness every chance you get.

The world is starving for love with no ulterior motive, for genuine care and concern… they crave Jesus, but they don’t know it. Your light shining in your corner of the world is just the flesh-and-blood advertisement they need. This makes you invaluable, My Friend.

Go forth and shine today!