Walking through doors that He opens.

God is has been really been speaking to me recently about walking through the doors that He opens. Sometimes the only way to discover God’s will is to practice what I believe is called “stepping out and finding out.” I believe if we have prayed about something and still don’t seem to know 100% what to do, I believe God is wanting us to simply take a step of faith. It’s like God is showing us that trusting Him is like standing before a automatic door. We can stand and look at the door all day, but it won’t open until we take a step forward and trigger the thing that opens it. “A wide door of opportunity for effectual service has opened to me and there are many adversaries.” 1 Corinthians 16:9

open doors to sky of heaven

There are times in life when we must take a step forward in order to find out, one way or the other, what we should do. Some doors open as soon as we take a step of faith and others never open no matter what we do. When God opens the door, then we need to be obedient and just go through it. If He does not open the door, then be satisfied to take another direction. But we can not let fear trap us in total inactivity.

open the door to a new season

It’s one thing to recognize an open door, but it’s an entirely different thing to actually walk through it. God may be speaking to us right now. We might thinking that we’re not sure if we should walk through this door. Many times, it’s the devil that has hung a curtain of “fear” over the opening. However, the same God who gave you the awareness of the door to begin with will also give you wisdom, knowledge, and courage to walk through it.

We need to keep going forward in faith, searching for what God wants us to do. Walk boldly through the doors God opens for us, and don’t become discouraged when He closes one.

closed

Trust God in the Midst of a Messy Day!

Trust God in the midst of a messy day. His inner calm – His Peace in His Presence – need not be shaken by what is going on around you. Though we live in this temporal world, our innermost being is rooted and grounded in eternity. When we start to feel stressed, we need detach ourselves from the disturbances around us. Instead of desperately striving to maintain order and control in our little world, we need relax and remember that circumstances cannot touch God’s Peace.

what fills our hearts
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” ~  John 16:33

We will definitely have trouble in this world, and even the Lord acknowledges this in His Word. But somehow we’re supposed to relax and detach ourselves from it. What a challenging thing the Lord asks us to do! Everything in our flesh wants us to take control, fix things, fix others, run ourselves ragged until we’ve solved every single problem in our lives.  Yet, this is the exact opposite of what the Lord wants for us.

How do we live in the world, but not be OF the world? It definitely starts with being in His Word daily, praying and thanking the Lord, seeking His Face, fellowshipping with other believers, and helping those in need to expand the Kingdom. But probably the most successful way of achieving all of this is that one little word at the beginning of this devotional: TRUST.

i can trust god

God Takes Great Delight in You!

Do you believe God is watching over you as a believer, smiling and delighting in the fact that you are HIS child? Close your eyes and picture God watching over you at this moment. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you, God’s love reaches down to hold you in His arms. Bow your head and tilt your heart to listen to Him whisper, “You are precious in my sight and I love you.” (Isaiah. 43:4,) Have a wonderful day resting in the promise that He loves you, He knows your needs, and He’s constantly by your side.

God is with you takes great delight

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  ~ Zephaniah 3:17

My friends,  our heavenly Father, is watching over you. He calls you His treasured possession, the apple of His eye. There have been times when I have felt as if His hand is upon my head, letting me know that He is watching over me. To be in the loving arms of my ABBA Father is safest place of all. He takes great delight in you, just because you are His son/daughter. When you feel afraid or even a little scared, He will quiet you with His love. He says to you, “Everything is going to be alright. Your ABBA Father is here just for you.” His words are so soothing to me. They bring me peace. He rejoices over us by singing songs of His never-ending love for us.

delights

You know, God loves to be with us and watch over us. It’s not because we are doing anything for Him, but simply because we are His. We might have even disappointed Him that day, but it doesn’t change how He feels about us. I sense God wants you to know today that He delights greatly in you my friends. And with His love, He is there today to quiet your fears, concerns, insecurities and doubts. I have a feeling the joy-filled songs He sings over you are written just for you, describing the beautiful person He’s created you to be, while gently leading your heart to know and rely on His love more and more each day.

What a great reminder for times when nothing’s going right; when we feel like the whole world is against us and nobody understands what we’re going through. I hope the next time you have one of those days you’ll imagine Your Heavenly Father loves and delights in you even more then you can imagine!

delights baby

When we call out to God, He answers!

cry out

Today I was reading one of my favorite Psalms and I was led to share this message for everyone to reflect on. The good news is that even when we have messed things up at one time or another and if we call out to God, He will always hear us. How easily God could tell us, “That is your problem. You deal with it.” But when people cry out to Him, He is always ready to answer!

“When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.” Psalm 91:15

How valuable is a relationship with God? More than words can ever fully describe. However, in Psalm 91, the Lord gives us a list of some of the things He will do for those who call upon Him: And I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” Psalms 91:15-16 (NKJV) Let’s break this down and specifically look at these benefits that belong to those who call upon the Lord.

First, we see that there’s the promise of responsiveness. God says, “I will answer.” Few things are worse than waiting for a response to an e-mail , text or voice message that never comes. Nobody appreciates feeling like they’ve fallen through the cracks. But God’s not like that. He answers when we call.

Second, the Lord promises to accompany us through our times of trouble. He’s not a fair-weather friend who ditches or bails when we’re going through rough times. He sticks by us through good times and bad, through thick and thin.

Third, we find that He not only stays with us through our trials but will also deliver us from them. He isn’t just a shoulder to lean on, He can actually effect change on our behalf! We could go on and on.

He also promises to honor us, to sustain us with longevity, to satisfy us with a quality of life we could never find on our own, and to reveal His salvation to us, which extends into eternity. The benefits of our relationship with God literally never end. He responds, He accompanies, He delivers, He honors, He sustains, He satisfies, and He saves. That’s a relationship there’s just no substitute for. Lord, thank you for allowing us to have a relationship with You and for being all that You are in our lives!

Think about it… What does this passage reveal to me about God? What does this passage reveal to me about myself? Based on this, what changes do I need to make? What is my prayer for today?  Call out to him now!

Where are you, God?

god where are y ou

Let’s all be very honest. You don’t always feel God’s presence. Sometimes He seems a million miles away. Sometimes He doesn’t even seem real. Can you relate? What do you do during times like that? “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” Deuteronomy 31:8

I know that feelings are not reliable. They change according to the weather or what’s happening in our lives. God’s word does not change. No matter what our circumstances, God is present. He has said, “I will never leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) He is the same compassionate God on good days as He is on bad days. So, what are you going to stand on – facts or feelings? You must choose, then act accordingly. Have you been struggling with despair? Are you relying on feelings instead of fact? How can you affirm God’s truth in your life today?

Our heavenly Father knows what is before us. He knows our every step along every path. We sometimes get frightened because we are looking at the danger rather than resting in the promise of His faithfulness. Yet, God is fully capable of taking us through difficulty. He is in control and has no doubts when we doubt Him and His ability to keep us from harm. God sees the road ahead. He knows where He is taking us, just as He knew where He was leading Moses, and Joshua and the people of Israel; they did not need to fear. God knew that.

Ever feel like fear has caused you to tremble and panic, to dig in your heels and beg God to stop? We do not need to drag our feet or turn back. As we trust in Him, His strength, power and foresight never let us fall.  Our Father knows what is best for us, so keep trusting! Keep persevering!!! Fight that good fight of Faith!!!

god is with you

Life can change in an instant!

storm lighting
Life can change suddenly… Unexpectantly… In an instant… Just like that….the storm arises… Without any warning at all. One moment you are experiencing the bliss of intimacy with Christ. The world is full of light. His voice is clear and distinct. The Word has come alive before you. You are enjoying the glory and radiance of time alone with God on the mountain top. “And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here;…While He was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” Luke 9:33-35

Anyone know what I’m talking about today? You are in a good place, accompanied by good friends, standing in His presence, and everything is “all good.”

But then it all changes… Dark, heavy clouds fill your life. The light that once shown so brightly has now been diminished and all but disappeared. His voice has become a distant memory. The word that once was so clear now lies all but forgotten in the corridors of your mind. Just moments before you were full of joy and confidence. But now it has all dissipated in the fog of fear that has suddenly surrounded you. You feel alone. All alone. The friends that once seemed so close have now vanished. And worst of all? You can’t see Him anymore and you quickly begin to wonder if He has not altogether abandoned you.

Yes, life can change suddenly.

We have all been there at some point (some of you reading this might well be there right now). And if you will allow me, I want to remind each of you of something very important today. Think about it for a minute. Their visible situation may have changed. The clouds might have hidden Jesus from your view. Circumstances had now brought them to a place of fear. But only the EXTERNALS had changed. The ESSENTIALS were still the same. The disciples were still on the mountain top. And Jesus was still there. The clouds had overshadowed them but the Savior had not forsaken them. The glory of the moment had left them but Jesus had not abandoned them.

When everything around them gave way to sudden change, when everything within them crumbled before the violence of human emotion, God had remained constant, steadfast, and unmoveable. Jesus was still there. He had never left. Not once. Not for a single moment.

There will be those times when the clouds of worry and fear seem to hide Him from view, but no matter how dark the night we can take heart. God is always there. He will never leave us. And if we will be still, we will hear His voice. be still and know

Good fight

Just wanted to share again and hopefully encourage you in you are in that “good fight of faith” for something in your life these days!

A Safe Harbor is Jesus

Fight the good fight of faith….1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV)

 

God didn’t have a bad day while He wrote a book about your life. He didn’t say, “This book is too perfect. Should we shake things up and throw in a car accident or something?”

Although God didn’t write painful events into your life, you need to know that there are going to be a few battles along the road. You see, your destiny is a path that God has prepared for you ahead of time. But it’s also your faith-filled journey down that path.

Life won’t hand you your dreams and Satan is going to try to get you off track, so it’s going to take faith to walk out God’s plans.

When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, God promised them a lush, fertile land that flowed with milk and honey. But just because this was God’s plan didn’t…

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Give Jesus your fears!

We need to come to God by faith and lay up every fear and worry at His feet. We may not be sure what the future holds for us, but we do know that God is with us every step of the way. So when you get tempted to worry, please remember to trust Him. When fear attacks you choose to pray instead of panic, knowing He is your Lord and your Shepherd, and praise Him for His faithfulness in your life, even when you don’t understand and can’t see the next step.

spirit of fear

“God did not give us a spirit that makes us fear or timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control” 2 Timothy 1:7

The Lord commands us to fear not. But how many of us do fear, especially when it comes to the unknown. Fear and faith mix about as well as oil and water; yet we walk with the Lord, day after day, with both of these operating in our lives. The fact that God knows all about us, even to the number of hairs on each head, should give us great comfort as we step out into the unknown future He has laid out before us. Can you step into tomorrow without fear? Are you able to leave tomorrow untouched by anxiety or manipulation? The Lord would have us grow in faith as we discover what great value He has given us.  As our faith grows, our fear should diminish. Which of these is controlling your life today, fear or faith?

The good news is what lies ahead is no surprise to God. In fact, He has already been where we are going, isn’t that encouraging to know. That reason alone empowers us to face every tomorrow with hope, knowing if you’re a born-again believer whatever touches us passes through His hands, with His permission. It is not God’s plan for us to dwell in fear or for fear to rule our lives. He has already set in motion the defeat and fall of every giant we will ever face in our lives. Our responsibility is to step through our fear, facing every giant in God’s power and with His promises. The Holy Spirit will guide the path of His truth to its destined mark, taking down the giant obstacles lurking in each tomorrow.

He is the same yesterday, today and forever! As we face the days ahead we must put our trust in Almighty God, the Giant Killer. So then, my friends, I ask you, what is there to fear?

Are you easily offended? Do you offend others? A lesson on offenses!

 easily

Unfortunately, people sometimes say and do things that are careless, blunt, insensitive or even mean-spirited. While we can’t control the intentions or behavior of others, we can determine how we will act. We can choose to not be offended.

How to fix being offended? You let the other person know you can see some truth to what they just said. I wish I could say I always respond to offensive remarks in a proper way, but I don’t. Sometimes I let other people’s careless, blunt or insensitive words rub me the wrong way. I feel hurt, upset, insulted, snubbed, slighted or wronged. I’m not able to let the comments just slide.

Chances are, you can relate. From time to time, probably most of us find ourselves offended by something someone said, or perhaps did. You don’t get invited to a party that everyone else you know is going to. Your boss commends your coworker in the company meeting, but doesn’t acknowledge any of your efforts. You don’t receive a thank you card for the birthday gift you gave someone. Your son sits out on the bench the entire baseball game, while the coach’s son and his circle of friends play the whole time. It can be so difficult to overlook these kinds of annoyances.

Yet, we must. The Bible admonishes us to not be oversensitive: “Do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others” ~Ecclesiastes:7:21-22

We know that part of the fruit of God’s Spirit is love. In 1 Corinthians:13:5, we’re told that a vital aspect of love is to not be easily provoked or stirred to anger. Those who really love God’s law and understand His Word will not allow small irritants and annoyances to drive a wedge between others and themselves. They know how easy it is to cause others offense. Proverbs:11:12 says, “He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his peace.” Certainly, these verses are not telling us we should never confront another person about a serious problem. There are times when we do need to go to our brother, as commanded in Matthew:18:15-17

However, confronting others should not be something we are doing on a regular basis. You don’t want to be the proverbial “contentious woman” (or man) who is just itching to be offended, all-too-ready to tell others off and put them in their place. No one wants to spend time around someone like that.

Of course, some people aren’t “confrontational,” but may get just as offended. Rather than pick a fight with the offender, they stew about what the person said or did, harboring all kinds of negative emotions. That’s not good, either. These kinds of feelings can grow and fester, and turn someone into an angry, bitter, miserable person. It can also lead to grudges. I know people who have spent years estranged from once good friends over relatively small offenses.

The fact of the matter is offenses are going to come our way. When they do, it’s okay to admit that it hurts. However, we don’t have to get upset about it. We can choose to not be offended. It says in Colossians:3:13 that we should be “bearing with one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Here are some suggestions for how to do just that: Get your focus off “self”!!

Having hurt feelings and being easily offended is almost always a result of being too preoccupied with “self”: “No one liked my ideas.” “She was curt with me .” “They hardly talked to me .” “He didn’t even thank me .” “No one ever asked for my opinion.” “Why wasn’t I considered for the position?” “Nobody paid any attention to me .”

baby crying

I can see it in some of my own interactions. Once I hosted a dinner party and one of my guests spent much of the evening going on and on about what an elegant hostess one of her friends was: “Oh, you should see the tables Joelle sets!” “Joelle doesn’t serve everyday food like most of us do when we have dinner parties; she serves six-course gourmet meals.” “I always feel like I’m at a five-star restaurant when I go to Joelle’s house for dinner.” “Joelle makes the best desserts I’ve ever tasted!” This guest didn’t make any positive comments that evening about the meal I prepared. I was feeling slighted, because I thought I had served a nice meal on a beautifully set table too. It wasn’t until after the guests left that evening that I really thought things through. The reason I felt offended was because someone else was getting recognition, not me. That’s not to say it was wrong to hope for a compliment that evening. Everyone likes that kind of positive feedback. But I did need to get my mind off “self concerns.”

If you find yourself getting irritated because someone else is in the limelight, think about that person’s good qualities. Try to see why he or she is being praised. Ask God to help you be happy for others when they are successful.

If you are upset because you didn’t get your way or someone pointed out some of your shortcomings, ask God to help you cultivate more of a humble mindset. You may not want to hear it, but there may very well be others who have more expertise in a particular area than you do. It’s hard to become offended if you are esteeming others better than yourself, and valuing what they have to offer. Truly, one of the best ways to keep from becoming offended is to get your focus off yourself…and onto others.
Examine your own feelings

Typically, people who are easily offended are over-sensitive about too many things. They seem to have a chip on their shoulders, and are very quick to interpret even the most innocent comments as an offense. They become offended, not so much because of what was said or done to them, but because of inner, personal struggles.

If you find yourself easily upset with others, examine yourself to see if something is going on in your life to make you more irritable. Are you blaming others for offending you, when in reality you wouldn’t be upset if you had already dealt with certain hot-button issues in your life? Ask God to help you get over these wounds, emotional scars and insecurities, so they’re no longer driving a wedge between yourself and others.

Always take other people’s backgrounds into account. We all have different reasons for doing the things we do. Sometimes what seems to be a major offense is simply a reflection of a different personality, upbringing, cultural background or lifestyle.

I once knew someone who had moved to the United States from another part of the world, who was often offending others. His new friends in the U.S. thought he was too blunt and forward. It wasn’t until this man’s family came to visit the U.S. that his American friends really understood why he talked the way he did. They observed their friend and his family interacting with each other in a very direct, “in your face” manner. Yet, they could see that this man and his family had a deep love and respect for each other. From that time forward, their friend’s blunt manner (by American standards anyway!) was no longer taken as an affront, but rather a cultural difference.

Next time you find yourself taking offense to something, try to imagine yourself in the other person’s situation. Remind yourself that he or she may not be coming from the same perspective as you. What once seemed like a huge offense may no longer be one.

Often when we take offense, it’s a matter of being disappointed in other people when we see their faults. You see the same clique always together at church, never trying to get to know anyone else. Your child’s teacher has a week’s worth of homework to grade and isn’t very friendly when you drop by her office to talk with her. The office kiss-up name-drops so that you know “how tight” he is with the boss. Unfortunately, these kinds of things happen. Don’t let yourself be taken aback when they do.

True, if the person who has offended you has accepted the Christian calling, you should see some Godly fruits in him. Hopefully you will be able to keep some of these good qualities in mind. But you should also remind yourself that the person is still human and far from perfect. He or she is going to make mistakes, just as you will.

The Apostle Paul summed up the human condition this way: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Romans:7:18). If you remember this, you will be much more tolerant of others, and less likely to take offense when people say and do things they shouldn’t.
Assume good motives

Finally, it’s important to assume that the person who offended you has your best interest at heart, or at least didn’t mean to hurt you. One friend, a copywriter with an advertising agency, told me how she made some French pastries and brought them into work one day. Her boss, the agency’s creative director, took one bite of the pastry and raved, “You’re in the wrong field! You should be working in a bakery! This is the best dessert I have ever tasted in my life!”

My friend thanked him for the compliment, but was furious inside. She fumed to herself, “I spent six years in college and have a Master’s degree in Advertising. I’ve gotten several awards for my copywriting. But my boss tells me I should be baking for a living!” She didn’t stay upset, though. “Just the previous week my boss told me I did an exemplary job on a direct mail piece I’d recently completed,” she related. “I had to remind myself of that, rather than dwell on what he said when he was completely enthralled with the pastry he was devouring.” In the end, my friend knew that what her boss said the moment he was eating the dessert was not an accurate assessment of what he thought about her professional work. It’s helpful to remember that what someone says is not always what he or she meant.

I’ll admit to being the queen of sticking-your-foot-in-your-mouth. I’ve always been a fast talker, and don’t always give myself time to think things through before I speak. Not surprisingly, some of the things I blurt out don’t always come out that well. I am grateful my friends give me the benefit of the doubt. I don’t have to worry that they are going to assume the worst in interpreting my words and actions. I know that if I do say something tactless or inappropriate, they will see it for what it is and not make more of it than necessary. This is the same kind of understanding I need to extend to others.

If others offend you, consider that they probably didn’t intend to. Chances are they were preoccupied with something else, weren’t feeling well, or didn’t think how their actions may have come across.

Next time you find yourself getting offended, take a few moments to think things through. Once you do, you may realize it’s not something to get upset about. Remember, we all have unique personalities. Allow for those differences, ignore the unpleasant mistakes, and learn to enjoy other people—even when they don’t always say or do things that endear you to them.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you!

In the hour of your darkest distress, God will give you His most splendid and gracious gifts of peace. We do not always know how God gives us peace when peace is not humanly possible. However, if we remain faithful to Christ we know in every circumstance…no matter how troubling, the Spirit of God strengthens us. Deep in my heart, I know there’s no promise that any of us will free from trouble in this life. Thankfully, Jesus is waiting all that time for us to relinquish our feeble and ineffective attempts at finding peace. As we give up our grasping attempts at control, He will stepped in to the space between our heart and the lies, and wedge His truth there. 

kitty peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

I’ve learned that peace and courage manifested in our own strength will NOT stand testing. Our peace is determined  by our circumstances. It’s determined by our ability to control the situation. With our peace, there’s always that little voice saying, but what if? Jesus’ peace, however, silences that doubting voice. That voice knows the response it will get. I’ll be his peace, Jesus replies for us. When we allow Jesus to control our peace we are better armed to face the “what ifs” of life. Instead of focusing on what we don’t know, we focus on what we do know. Above all, we know Jesus’ peace will be with us. The storms may come, the waters will rise, but we can have peace. This is a promise from One who has never lied.

Please take this wisdom and apply to your life. We may not know the future, but cling to the One who does; the One who is prepared to face what may come, and be confident  that Jesus will not abandon us, He still works miracles, and will make sure that we’re cared for when we trust in Him. That’s what we know. We all still will have worries and concerns that pop up; it would be false to imply otherwise. Yet, we can’t let them dominate us. When we feel them starting to crowd their way in, we need to stop and pray: Jesus, I need Your peace. Mine’s not working again.

waterfall peace