Having the Right Doesn’t Make it Right

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

They refused to sit down. Over the course of the first half of the football game several of the older fans around them politely asked the young couple to sit so they could see. But they ignored the requests.

They didn’t just hop up when something exciting happened. They stood continuously. Which would have been fine on the student side of the field. But alumni, parents, and grandparents filled this side. Many who could not physically stand for long periods of time.

Just before half time a university employee approached the standing pair.  Ah, someone had complained.

Will you please sit so others around you can see?

 No. We have every right to stand if we want. We will not sit.

 The employee shrugged and turned away.

I’d like to say the situation resolved with civility. Unfortunately, after the couple refused the employee’s request a few of the nearby fans got nasty. People tossed out rude comments. Still others approached them with less than polite demands to sit.

By the time the two football teams headed to the locker room for half time, tears ran down the young woman’s face and her husband looked like he could spit fire.

Did they have the right to stand for the entire game? Yes. No law against it.

Was it right for them to stand for the entire game? Especially when they knew their actions inconvenienced or harmed others? No.

Graciously letting go of their right for the benefit of others would have been the right thing to do.

Believers regularly have a similar choice to make. Christ’s sacrifice has set us free from sin, death, and the Law. Our life in Christ grants us great liberty. God has freed us from legalism and guilt. Yet, many things we have the freedom to do may not be God’s best for us – or others around us – in a given situation.

Paul confronts this issue in his first letter to the Christians in Corinth.  The specific situation involved eating meat sacrificed to idols. Because an idol of wood has no power, meat sacrificed to it benefits the body the same as other meat. A believer was “free” to eat. However, some believers had trouble with this truth. Seeing a mature believer eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols would have confused and misguided them.

Paul clearly taught a believer’s “freedom” must take a backseat to the well-being of others.

Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others… So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 31, NIV)

When we make decisions regarding our freedom, God’s glory and the needs of others should always be our guiding principles. We may have the right to eat, drink, or act, but is it right? May grace and God’s glory guide our choices.

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Kathy HowardAbout the author: Find out more about how to treat others with grace in Kathy Howard’s Bible study Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing.Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: Have you ever given up a right because it was the right thing to do?

March Madness

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.                                                                              Ephesians 6:12 NIV

Confession time. I’m a Texan, but basketball is my favorite sport. College basketball specifically, and that means March Madness as the NCAA Tournament takes center stage at our house (after God, of course).

My kids played basketball in school, and one thing that always amazed me was how passionate the fans could get. I don’t mean passionate as in “Go Team!” I mean outright nasty about the opposing team, players, and especially the referees.

These were often the same parents who didn’t have a clue about what was on the video games their kids played, or the music they listened to, or the content that came at their kids like water from a fire hydrant through the cell phones that were never far from their reach.

Eager to yell at the referees over a bad call, the players for a bad pass, or the coach for a bad play, but what about the real enemy in their kids’ lives? Where was the passion and righteous indignation then?

Satan is playing an even more important game with our children than anything that will ever take place on a court or field. One where a lot more than bragging rights or a possible scholarship are on the line. It’s a game for their very lives. He won’t play fair. To kill, steal, and destroy—that is his victory—and he plays to win.

The enemy prowls around seeking to devour our kids, and we give him a set of keys—social media accounts, cell phones, the internet—to their hearts and minds, turning a blind eye because…well, what can we do about it anyway. We don’t come out of seats, shaking our fist at the enemy, with veins popping from our foreheads, yelling at the top of our lungs for justice.

But let a referee make a bad call and we’re on our feet yelling every kind of derogatory statement we can think of.

Of course, Satan isn’t fazed by our ranting, yelling, and name calling. We aren’t going to hurt his feelings or shame him into leaving our kids alone. What he is fazed by, though, is the power of the name of Jesus Christ. And by our actions as Christians when we call on that power on behalf of our children. That is the first thing we need to do.

We yell at the players on our team to “D-up” meaning go into defensive position against their opponent. But are we teaching them how to D-up in their everyday life? Do we tell them to D-up on their way out the door to school or to watch a movie with their friends? Teaching them how to D-up for themselves is the second thing we need to do.

Then we need to constantly watch for wolves. In the basketball league our kids played in, a “wolf” was an opponent sneaking up in a player’s blind spot to steal the ball. In the game of life, Satan is a wolf lurking everywhere, eager to attack and cunning in the way he gets close.

When we yell at a referee over a call we don’t agree with, but look the other way at the lies the world is selling our kids…well, it feels a little like suiting up for the enemy’s team.

Instead of giving the game more importance than it should have, I think it may be time we get out of the stands and start channeling our anger at the real enemy who has the power and the desire to steal, kill, and destroy our children.

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Lori AltebaumerAbout the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at www.lorialtebaumer.com, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.

Join the conversation: How do you help your children to D-up against the enemy?

Waiting in Expectation

by Patty Mason @Liberty_nChrist

As I look through my window at the winter landscape, my heart struggles. The trees look sad without any leaves. The grass is brown, and the sky is draped in colors of gray and more gray. Everything looks motionless and dull, as if life itself has been drained from my yard.

In the stillness, a growing sense of impatience arises as a deep sigh pours from my mouth. Oh how I long for spring. I am tired of the long harsh winter. At this point the wait seems almost unbearable. I’m ready to break out of the confines of my house and feel the rays of the sun kiss my face.

“Wait.” The word pierces my thoughts. Wait? Wait, for what? Waiting seems impractical, a gigantic procrastination, nothing more than a misplaced notion in this fast-paced, demanding world we live in. Besides, I don’t want to wait. I’m tired of winter.

If it were up to me, it would be spring and summer all the time. But the reality is, if I got my way, nothing would survive. Even though everything outside my window looks dead, it’s not. The trees need this time of hibernation away from the intensity of the hot summer sun—a time to go dormant—a time to wait, rest and renew, so that come spring, they will blossom with the vitality of new life.

As hard as it is to wait, we also need times of waiting, so our souls can swim in the peaceful waters of calm and serenity. The trouble is, we find waiting difficult. We try to sit quietly beside the still waters. We make every effort to wait and be still, but almost instantly an inner chaos rises up and steals our peace as to-do-lists run through our minds.

Part of the reason we have a hard time waiting is because we don’t understand why we are to wait. We have bought into the cultural belief that when we are waiting we are doing nothing.

When we wait upon the Lord, we are doing the most important thing we can do. Waiting upon the Lord causes us to grow, change, develop and renew; to be empowered, prepared, and equipped, to find courage in difficult, even dire situations. Waiting upon the Lord fills us with hope and a sense of expectation. When we wait we are giving our soul the opportunity to grow.

Waiting upon the Lord is not waiting for God to do something—to fix or change our problems. Waiting means to wait in His presence for His strength to become our own. Through the boundaries of waiting, God is maturing and growing our faith. He is teaching and training us for what lies ahead, preparing us to handle every spiritual blessing He desires to shower upon us in Christ Jesus.

We all go through seasons. Times of winter-waiting may feel harsh and barren, but seasons of winter don’t mean we are dead, or that we are doing nothing. It simply means we are waiting upon the Lord. And, if we learn to wait patiently in expectation, before we know it, we will see the buds of new life develop in us.

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.                                                                                  Psalm 33:20-22, NIV

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Headshot Patty Mason 1 (1)About the author: Patty Mason is a wife, mother, and grandmother who found hope and healing when Jesus reached into her well of depression and set herFinally Free: Breaking the Bonds of Depression Without Drugs by [Mason, Patty ] free. An as a speaker, and the author of several books and bible studies, Patty’s passion is to help women discover hope and healing by encouraging them to embrace a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Savior. She lives with her husband in Nashville, TN, and is the founder of Liberty in Christ Ministries.

Join the conversation: Are you in a season of waiting?

 

Recognizing Your Spacious Place

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.                                                                                                                       Psalm 23:2-3 NASB

Just about every time we come to a stop in traffic, I’ll hear my husband grumble. “Can I just live in a place where there’s not so much traffic and where I’m not so crowded in? Why do I have to sit on the freeways? Where can I get a little open space?”

I can relate to his heart’s cry. I feel it, too – at the end of every week – when that urge returns to get outdoors and walk. To climb a mountain, walk in the grass, breathe deeply of mountain air – all those things I can’t do while I’m living in a fast-growing city in a crowded part of Southern California. Yet, my heart still longs for a “spacious place.”

In Psalm 18, when David cried to the Lord to be rescued from his enemies, he told of God’s thunderous response and then summed it up by saying:

“He brought me out to a spacious place;
He rescued me because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19 NIV).

God rescued David from his enemies by bringing him “out to a spacious place.”

When the enemies of busyness, stress, and fatigue press in – and when I feel the pressure to work harder, run faster, achieve more, only to be exhausted from the endless rat race – it is then that I realize how badly I need my spacious place.

Sometimes our spacious place is a relaxing vacation or some time off from work. Other times our spacious place is a missed opportunity that gives us some down time, a closed door or cancelled trip – which causes us to slow down and rethink where to go next. It could even be a layoff from work, an injury that stops us in our tracks, or an illness that suddenly finds us bedridden.

And sometimes, God allows alone times in our lives as a spacious place to get alone with Him – an open, airy place to meet, hear from Him, talk with Him, and just be with Him.

When we find ourselves in a lonely or frustrating place with not much going on, not many friends around, or not much hope in front of us, God may have just brought us “out to a spacious place” to be with Him. We just need to realize it is our rescue.

Lord, on the days that I feel overwhelmed and pressed in, help me to cry out for my spacious place and make some time to be with You. And on those days when I have not much going on, not much hope in front of me, or no one beside me, remind me of the spacious place You have blessed me with so I can spend some time alone with You.

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View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), When You’re Running on EmptyWhen God Sees Your Tearsand Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: When is the last time God gave you rest? Please share your experience.

https://strengthforthesoul.com/product/when-women-long-for-rest/

The Head and Hands of the Serpent

by Jean Holland @BrideGuide77

The Philistines had taken the captured Ark of the Covenant to Ashdod to set it up in the temple of their god, Dagon. The next morning, he was discovered face down before the Ark. Clueless, they picked him up and set him back in place.

But when they arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. 1 Samuel 5:4 NASB

God led me to this passage during my quiet time on a mission trip to the New York School of Urban Ministry. Little did I know that it was a picture of what was to take place that night during our homeless ministry. I felt compelled to stay in the van interceding for the team as they handed out peanut butter sandwiches and shared the Gospel.

As I lay in the floor weeping, groaning, and praying, I saw the head of a snake bobbing and swaying. I thanked God for cutting off the head of the snake as He had cut off the head of Dagon. Though the Spirit repeatedly warned me to pray about the hands, I stubbornly refused. In fact, I argued, snakes don’t have hands.

But they do, was the reply. Remember your Biology class. Snakes have vestigial hand-like organs; pray about those hands. So, I prayed, God thank You for cutting off the hands too. Release came to pray for something else.

That night my roommate told me a woman bobbing and swaying like a cobra attempted to seduce one of our team members. Someone chimed in, she didn’t have a tooth in her head except for two fangs. Imagine my surprise. But that’s not all.

Instead of eating the sandwich, cobra-lady tore it apart, spread peanut butter on her hands, and groped for the face of a young man who is deathly allergic to peanuts. All of a sudden, with no explanation, the she withdrew her hands placing them behind her back.

The next morning, we went to worship at Times Square Church. Vicki and I knelt at the altar to pray for cobra-lady before service started. Vicki prayed, Lord, I don’t know the woman’s name, but You do… as we continued to pray for her deliverance, I felt the floor under us shake. I asked Vicki if she felt it, but she said, “No, Jean but I heard this: Psalm 18:4-7, 16-17.” As we got up from our knees, I heard Him say, I have changed her name to Daughter.

Since neither Vicki or I knew the Scripture reference, we looked it up. Here’s what we discovered:

The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; They trembled because he was angry… Psalm 18:4-7. 16-17 NIV

Reading about Dagon before our trip gave me insight in how to intercede effectively that night. We had no idea how Psalm 18 related to our prayer, but God was gracious enough to tell us to read it.  We don’t have to memorize the Bible to be effective prayer warriors. We just need to be open to prompts from the Holy Spirit.

Praise the Name of the Lord forever, He cut off the head and hands of the serpent. One day I will meet Daughter in heaven and O what a day that will be!

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Jean HollandAbout the author: Jean Holland has written and taught local and international Bible studies for children, youth, and adults to encourage the Bride of Christ to triumph through turbulent times. She has one book in the hands of a content editor awaiting publication, The Rising Bride: A Wake-up call for Christians Living in the Last Days.

Jean enjoys family camping trips across the USA and Canada in a vintage motor home. Her Beloved blog is devoted to heralding the call of our soon coming King.

 

Empty-Nest Living by Faith

by Afton Rorvik @AftonRorvik

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8, NIV

I first discovered this verse in my twenties, at a time when I moved a lot. I wanted so much to respond to God as Abraham did, to trust God for the future unknown.

That future turned out to contain a husband, children, and a home for decades in a comfortable, quiet suburb. I love my neighborhood, my house, my yard, my “let’s-get-together” neighbors. I have loved raising my family here.

I could stay here forever. Perhaps I shall. Or perhaps God wants me to leave this comfortable place, this now empty-nest place. Perhaps He wants me to stretch. Perhaps He wants to show Himself faithful by leading me to unknown destinations.

How I would love to hear God speak to me in His out-loud voice as He did to Abraham. Wouldn’t you? Genesis 12:1 (NIV) says, “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’ “

Ah . . . a clear voice. A distinct voice. An audible voice.

The waiting and the listening for next steps challenges me. When will God direct? Where will He direct? How will He fit all the pieces together? Truthfully, staying put and sticking my fingers in my ears sounds much easier. A bit childish, perhaps, but safe.

When I return to Hebrews 11:8, however, I can’t help but notice that it starts with two simple words, “By faith . . .” In fact, those words pepper Hebrews 11, a chapter that begins this way: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Abraham might have heard God speak, but He still had to place his confidence in that voice and act on what he heard.

And I know I must do the same. As I pray and listen and read and reread God’s Word, I must open my hands and heart to God in trust. I must keep learning to say, “I trust you and will follow your lead.”

Somehow living by faith stretches me more now in empty nest than it did in my twenties. Perhaps I have come to depend on routines and the known comforts of life. Perhaps I have settled into a no-risk pattern of daily life. Perhaps I have taken my eyes off the One, the only ONE, who knows what the future will hold and tried instead to put together the puzzle on my own.

Oh, may I, in this empty-nest season, learn to live by faith. May I remember that living by faith means trusting God when I don’t know the where or the why or the how.

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afton rorvik2About the author: Afton Rorvik savors words, flavored coffee, time outside, and living connected. Although an introvert, she has come to realize that what really matters in life is people and faith in Jesus. Afton’s book,  Storm Sisters (Worthy), takes a story-filled approach to learning to stick around when storms hit a friend’s life. She blogs monthly at  aftonrorvik.com and thoroughly enjoys Pinterest (Afton Rorvik). You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Join the conversation: Has God asked you to trust Him and follow His lead?

Asking, then Spurning God’s Guidance

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

You know those people who are always asking for advice but never seem to follow it? Um… that could be me. I often preface a conversation with, “So, I may not agree with you…” (translation: I probably won’t) “…but what do you think I should…”

I guess what I really mean is, “Please tell me what I want to hear, confirming that my ideas on this are correct.”

What a fool I must seem to be by even asking the question!

Of course, my friends are only human and could be offering faulty reasoning. I’d certainly never treat the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the universe that way… right?

If my past responses to difficult situations are any indication …

“Lord, this hurts! I can’t lose my job/deal with sickness/walk through this relational issue now! It’s not fair! It’s not right! I. Don’t. Like. This! Please help me!”

To which God often replies: Draw near to Me. Surrender to Me. Don’t run from the pain or the trial; instead, press into Me and let Me grow you through it.

But in the middle of the hard, I don’t want to hear it. All I want is an end to my pain. So I repeat my pleas over and over, adding a few more please helps for good measure. My attention is on my problem rather than focused on listening for God’s voice.

James warns that someone asking God for help without trusting His answer “is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind…[and] such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:6, 8 NIV). I hate to admit it, but there have been many times when I have resembled a storm-tossed boat, surging first this way then another, at the mercy of whatever feels right or most comforting in the moment; anything but someone who is anchored in truth.

But here’s the deal: when we come to God in the middle of our trial, we’re doing more than crying out for help. We’re saying we’ll follow His guidance—whatever that looks like. That could mean Him plucking us out of a situation, but more often than not, his plan is to teach us how to stand in the middle of it. Rather than rescue, He pulls us close and whispers to our hearts, “Stay. Remain. And lean on me.” He’s giving us a choice, and wants our response to be, “Okay. I trust You, God. Because you said it, I will heed your words.”

Though our friends’ wisdom, on occasion, might fail, God’s wisdom never will. When I understand that and perceive all the love tied up in what he is offering, I’d be a fool to do anything but obey.

Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Proverbs 15:35 NIV

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Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels, co-author of a Bible study that helps women plant their feet deep in grace, and has a seventh novel releasing in April.  She maintains two devotional blogs, one at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud, and the other on Crosswalk. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Join the conversation: Let’s talk about this! How easy is it for you to follow God’s guidance in the middle of trials? How might remembering who God is—all loving and all knowing—help?

Manna Mania

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Have you ever wondered if the Israelites ever tried to get clever with their manna? God provided them with all that miraculous food each day to keep them alive. But I do remember reading that they got a little whiny about eating the same thing day in and day out. I can picture them moaning, “Oh, the hu-manna-ty”—even though the manna must’ve been pretty sweet and tasty. Exodus 16:31 says “it tasted like honey wafers” (NLT). Add a drizzle of chocolate and it sounds perfect to me.

I wonder if they ever tried to get creative. Maybe they tried new recipes. Mannawiches, maybe?

What if they got even more clever and made it into a loaf, then added berries? Wouldn’t that make “Berry Manna-loaf”?

Would eating too much of it cause them to sing mellow songs and consider music and passion always the fashion? Perhaps they could’ve kept the showman theme, added different fruits to make other tasty treats. You know, like “Copacabana-banana-manna.” Could’ve happened, couldn’t it?

Or maybe they were just too busy whining to get creative. I would make fun of them for it, but I’m afraid there are too many times I ask God to provide and then take it for granted when he does. Or worse, I complain about the way he does it. How embarrassing to still be so quick to be full of myself instead of being full of him.

I’m so thankful our God is a God of mercy. He demonstrated it again and again with the whining Israelites. Psalm 78: tells us, “They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, ‘Can God spread a table in the desert?’ Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them what they craved. In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities.” (verses 18-19, 23-25, 30, 32, 38a, NIV).

His mercy still shows up in our every whiny inadequacy today. Even after I’ve been too shallow and full of self to recognize him and thank him, he graciously shows me mercy. And he’s faithful to continue to remind me to recognize him and to thank him and to crave his presence more than anything else. What a mighty, merciful, loving God we serve!

I think my lunchtime prayer might be a little different today. It’s very likely to be fuller than usual of thanks and praise to the merciful God who provides. And I want to crave him more than I crave lunch.

Speaking of lunch cravings, does banana bread sound especially good to you right now too?

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

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rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: For what are you most grateful to the Lord today?

Time to Refocus My Life

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. Psalm 51:16 HCSB

I don’t know about you, but I’m a doer. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to help myself. And while I have made some improvement over the years, unless I’m really focused, I’m going to judge my day, my progress, even my worth, on the things I’ve accomplished.

I know in my head that a check mark by everything on my to-do list isn’t synonymous for how good I am. Unfortunately, I just can’t seem to get the default setting for my feelings to switch over to this way of thinking. Some days this unhealthy outlook permeates every part of my life, especially spiritually. That’s when I fall into the trap of believing I can win God’s favor by doing more.

And that’s when I know it’s time to refocus my life.

Being a Christ-follower has its emphasis on the state of being verb, rather than an action verb. Yes, we are supposed to put feet to our calling and our purpose, but God has always been more interested in the process rather than the product.

David wrote the above verse in contrition for his sin, a pouring out His shame and love for God.  He knew from his predecessor Saul that actions like sacrificing were meaningless without heart behind them. After being caught in sin, Saul had attempted to make things right with God by making a sacrifice. But it would have been a superficial effort, avoiding the fact that what God really wanted was his heart. He was all about the relationship. As God told Isaiah: “[These] people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote” (Isaiah 29:13 NASB).

I must remember—especially on those frantic doing days—that God is relational, not task- oriented. Whatever needs doing, He can do. He uses us to accomplish His will not to keep us busy or because He Himself doesn’t have the time. He allows us to join Him where He’s working because of the relationship.

God wants to spend time with me. He wants me to be so familiar with His voice that I can instantly hear and respond when He calls my name. But when I fill my life with things I feel I have to do to win His favor, my focus drifts. Then things and tasks capture my attention and draw me away from the relationship.

So daily I’m evaluating my focus and readjusting my life accordingly. I’m looking at the person of God and making concrete plans to spend more time with Him, instead of for Him. Care to join me?

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Time to Refocus My Life – @EdieMelson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Edie-MelsonAbout the author:  Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction, or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged Edie Melson soul careaudiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, Soul Care When You’re Weary, is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle in finding significance outside of your accomplishments?

Are you Dead or Alive?

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

A few years ago, my car battery died and left me stranded in a doctor’s office parking lot. I didn’t get a warning. I had no trouble starting the car to drive to the appointment, but when I came out to go home, the motor didn’t even try to start.

I intercepted a cowboy headed out to his pickup truck and asked for his help. He agreed to do what he could and managed to finagle his vehicle into a position to connect our batteries. But still my car wouldn’t start.

I decided it must be something other than the battery. Maybe the starter. So I called Triple A and my father-in-law. The tow truck took my car to the dealership and my father-in-law took me home.

Later that day the service department called with the diagnosis. It was the battery. What? I asked why the “jump” didn’t get it going? According to the man who understands cars far more than I do, a battery has to have at least some life left in it to respond to a jump. My battery, on the other hand, didn’t have a single spark of life remaining. The only hope left for my car was a brand new battery. One that contained life. So, dead battery out and live battery in. Car started. Amazing.

Before Christ saves us, we’re like my car sitting in the doctor’s parking lot. We might look fine from the outside, but because we’re all sinners, we are all dead in our sin.

All have sinned (Romans 3:23); The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23); Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins (Ephesians 2:1 NIV).

Sin brings spiritual death, cutting us off completely from the Source of spiritual life. We have no power to save ourselves, and no access to the One who does. Sounds like a hopeless state, doesn’t it? Oh, but the grace of God…

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV

I am so overwhelmed by what God has done for us in Christ! Because of His love, and mercy, and grace, God replaces our death with His Life. And His Life is Jesus Himself. Eternal life is The Life in us.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24 NIV).

Are you dead or alive? Has there ever been a time in your life when you received God’s unbounded grace and crossed over from death to life? If so, then rejoice over that life today. If not, then why not receive His life today?   How to know Jesus

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Are you Dead or Alive? insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: This post is adapted from Kathy Howard’s new Bible study Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing. Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing by [Howard, Kathy]apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: Are you dead or alive? Tell us your story.