You’re Truly Loved


Thank you Holley Gerth for today’s message:

I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God ~ Ephesians 3:17-19, CSB

I’m a girl who’s serious about coffee. One morning I poured water into my machine, pressed the “on” button and waited for the magic to happen. But my much-desired beverage failed to appear. I began investigating and discovered somehow the grounds had overflowed the filter and clogged the whole process. I cleared the way and soon I had a hot mug of something wonderful in my hands again.

The lies we believe are a lot like those grounds in my coffee maker. They may seem small and harmless but they can end up totally blocking the love God wants to pour into our lives. So let’s get rid of the lies and get back to the goodness that’s rightfully ours.

As I’ve connected with thousands of women as an author, life coach and speaker, I’ve found the following three lies about love can cause us the most trouble.

1) I’m only loveable if I’m perfect. We often wear ourselves out trying to have hair, hearts and homes that are just right. When that doesn’t work, our solution is usually to try harder. Unfortunately, that’s like pouring more water into the clogged coffee maker. It only leads to a bigger mess. Instead we need to take hold of this heart-freeing truth: “I don’t have to be perfect because I’m already perfectly loved by God”

2) The amount of love I receive is based on what I achieve. Even if we become convinced that we don’t have to be perfect we can still believe love has limits. We then end up living like we’re on a reward system. For every good thing we do, we get a little more of God’s love. When we fail, He takes the love He’s given us away. But God’s love for us is infinite. We can’t do anything to gain more of it, and we can’t lose what’s already ours

3) If God loves me, nothing bad will ever happen in my life. The reality is that we live in a fallen, broken world where hard things happen. I went through a difficult season and kept thinking of Jeremiah 29:11, a verse in which God promises He has a hope and future for us. I asked Him, “If that’s true, why is this going on in my life?” And I sensed this in my heart, “I had good plans for my Son and they still included a cross.” Jesus was perfect and He still suffered. When we face challenges it doesn’t mean we are being punished by God or He is withdrawing His love from us. It simply means we are not in heaven yet.

This month as we celebrate love, “I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19). Unlike my little coffee pot, God’s love never runs out. He has more than enough to share with us. And He’s always willing to give us a refill whenever we need it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Are You Not Good Enough?

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

I can do all this through him who gives me strength ~ Philippians 4:13 NIV

It was my first large speaking engagement back in the ‘90s. Why I said yes was beyond me. I had never stood up in front of more than a handful of women at my Bible study or our church’s women’s retreat. Even then, I didn’t have to use a microphone. And now, five hundred expectant women were going to be staring me in the face. To top it all off, the theme was Unshakable Confidence in Christ. Laughable.

Two weeks before the event, I attended a luncheon where my mentor, Mary Marshall Young, was going to be sharing a short devotion. It was in a very prestigious part of town that I did not frequent. One of those gatherings where the women’s purses and shoes matched . . . I mean made out of the same material. I was so uncomfortable as I slid onto my toile-covered chair and placed my Walmart purse under the table. And where was Mary Marshall anyway? I wondered. Oh, my word, she waved at me from another table across the room and left me to swim in the mermaid-infested waters alone.

The other ladies at the table all knew each other and began bantering back and forth. One just about swooned as she said, “What did you think about the speaker at our church’s last women’s event? Wasn’t he wonderful?”

“Oh, yes,” her friend replied. “He was so powerfully anointed! One of the best speakers I have ever heard. What a testimony!”

“I cried all the way through his story,” another chimed in. “Oh, how God worked mightily in his family.”

“And then Pastor invited him to speak on Sunday morning! I don’t think we’ll ever have a speaker as good as that one again.”
They went on-and-on describing this amazing man of God with words like anointed, formidable, dynamic, electric, and articulate.

“Where do you ladies attend church?” I asked, trying to contribute to the conversation.

When they answered, my little tea sandwich lodged in my throat and my heart flip-flopped in my chest. This was the same church where I was booked to speak in two weeks! To these same women!

I never mentioned to the ladies that I was going to be the speaker for their next women’s night out, because at that moment, I wasn’t so sure I would be. I have no idea what Mary Marshal said in her devotion. All I wanted to do was grab my Walmart purse and escape the scene.

Lickety-split, I power-walked to my car as fast as I could without looking like I was running. With my face set like flint, I drove over to that church. All the while, Satan was whispering in my ear. “Who do you think you are, going to speak at that church? Did you hear the caliber of people they bring in? That man came all the way from across the country. You are just coming from across town. What could you possibly have to say to these women that would make any difference. If I were you, I’d bow out now before you embarrass yourself.”

And you know what? Even though I knew it was the devil, I believed him. After all, what he was saying made a lot more sense than the “My New Identity in Christ” list posted on my refrigerator door.

“Excuse me,” I asked the church receptionist. “I’d like to purchase a tape of the speaker you had for your last women’s event.”

“Oh sure, honey. He was really great.”

“Yes, I heard.”

“Here you go,” she said. “That will be five dollars.”

I went out to the car, popped the tape in the console, pressed play, and braced myself for an hour of power.

I heard nothing.

Pressed fast forward. Pressed play. There was nothing.

Flipped the tape over. Pressed play. There was nothing.

Pressed fast forward on side two. Pressed play. There was nothing.

The tape was blank.

Then God began speaking to my heart.

Sharon, you do not need to hear what my servant said to these people two weeks ago. The tape is blank because I do not want you to compare yourself to anyone else. It doesn’t matter what he said. I gave him a message. I will give you a message. I can speak through a prophet, I can speak through a fisherman, and I can speak through a donkey.

Who are you “performing” for, my child, them or Me? Do not compare yourself to anyone. You are my child and I am asking you to speak to an audience of One.

I didn’t bother getting my money back for the defective tape. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

So next time Satan taunted me with the words, “Who do you think you are?” here was my reply:

I am the bride of Christ.

I am a co-heir with Christ.

I am a chosen, holy, dearly loved child of God.

I am more than a conqueror through Christ.

I am a temple of God. His Spirit lives in me.

I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies.

I have the power of the Holy Spirit in me and working through me to do all things God has called me to do.

And who are you?

Today, if the devil dares to tell you that you are not enough, simply remind him of who you are and who he is…a defeated toothless lion that all growl.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Are You Demolition Debbie?

 

Thank you Lisa Morrone for today’s message…

A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. ~ Proverbs 14:1

In the past, whenever I’ve read the above verse, I’ve always thought of it in the context of the maternal head of a family, or of a wife. But truly, this “Demolition Debbie” role could belong to a big-mouthed teenaged girl, a disagreeable girlfriend, a disrespectful coworker, or even a dismissive adult sister. Scripture takes care not to label this woman beyond “wise” or “foolish,” giving each of us the opportunity to slip ourselves into this descriptive warning.

How, exactly, does this foolish woman tear her house down? Well, knowing (and being) a woman, I have a strong hunch: Her tongue, Ladies. Most of us have been said to possess the ‘gift of gab.’ And a few of us, myself included, have even been accused at one time or another of having “verbal diarrhea!”

All that tongue wagging can get us in deep trouble. Especially when our speech is sarcastic, full of condescending tone, or littered with insults or complaints. Growing up in a home where sharp tongues reigned and verbal arguments filled the air, I was well-trained to use my tongue as weapon.

Whenever I was frustrated, my tongue would come out in full force. This was an area where the Lord had to deal most pointedly with me, as I was accustomed to tearing down the people in the home of my upbringing. My husband—then fiancé—helped me to see how insulting my words could be one day after receiving a verbal outburst from me. He calmly interrupted me and said, “Hey, I don’t deserve to be spoken to that way.” And he was right, he didn’t.

Over the past three decades, I have made great strides in this area, although I do still, from time to time “have a tone” as my husband would say. The way Jesus began to work on this for me was to show me that out of my heart, my mouth speaks. My heart needed to get right for my speech to reflect the Lord’s grace. Second, I had to realize I was not the Holy Spirit to others, meaning, it wasn’t the job of my comments to reform the behavior of those in my life—it was the job of my prayers and of my God.

Once I filed down my sharp tongue I was able to speak to my children, not scream at them, overlook the insult of a friend, and rather than sharply rebut something my mother, husband, or brother said to me, I could simply chose be quiet. I’ve come to adopt this new slogan: A wise woman once said – nothing!

Friends, I have watched more than a few of my friends and acquaintances tear up their marriages, their relationships with their children, their parents, their siblings, all because of the wild fire that burned within their mouths—their tongue.

A thought occurred to me as I was reading the Book of Job this past summer and thinking about this truth: Maybe the reason Satan didn’t wipe out Job’s wife along with his children was that keeping her and her biting tongue alive was another facet of his torture.

Girl, let’s NEVER allow ourselves to be used by Satan as his weapon in another’s life!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Will God Really Help Me?

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message….

“Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30, NIV

I want to rescue him.

That’s what I thought on school field day, as I stood on that white painted gym-floor line getting ready to race.

I want to save him from all the bullying, taunting, and discouragement that destroyed him at his last school. Because, I know his pain. If we win, my little guy will finally see He’s worthy of love.

At the sound of “Go!” I exploded off the line with all the weight of a six-year-old boy loaded up on my back. It was amazing. With everything in me, my body seemed to run faster than itself. So much so, that I’m sure I was close to twisting my ankle. In fact, we nearly toppled over two times, but I didn’t care. No sooner had I crossed the line to win, a mom turned to me to say, “I didn’t know if you two were going to make it…and then, you did.”

“And then, we did…”

We made it. And I felt happy. On my back, I carried my son’s pain because I believed in his redemption.
Likewise, on Jesus’ back, He carried our pain because He believed in our redemption.

Jesus ran His race fully invested in our victory, and He won. He carried our pains, faults, and tears-to-come. Taking all the guilt, shame, and self-reproach we are prone to heap on our back.

“Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30, NIV)

Jesus gave up His life, so we could find ours. Jesus gave up His life, so we could find true hope. Jesus gave up His life, so we could be set free. This is redemption-life.

Oxford dictionary defines redemption as, “the action of gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt.”

New friend in Christ, your debt has been cleared. Every old mistakes, trauma, humiliation, and embarrassment has been carried and covered by the love of Jesus. Redemption ran the race and paid the price – for you. You have “new life,” Choose today to believe in it.

“New life” believes the following:

– I have been forgiven, and I am free indeed.
– Jesus loves me, and I am entirely loved.
– Jesus saved m, and I cannot be un-saved.
– God wants me and will not reject me.
– God’s gift and call on my life are irrevocable (see: Romans 11:29)
– I am no longer enslaved to my flesh, but alive to the Holy Spirit.

By Jesus’ stripes we are healed. Praise be to God! It is done.

No longer dwell on days of old, for today is a new day. It is full of “new life.” Go forth and live in the joy of your Savior. He has given much to love you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Notice Others in a Selfie World


Thank you Arlene Pellicane for today’s message:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:3-4, NIV.

My daughter Noelle and I were sightseeing in New York City. One highlight was rocketing up 102 stories in a mere 47 seconds inside the elevator of the Freedom Tower. Once at the top, we looked for a good spot to take in the glorious view. I couldn’t help but notice two teenage girls taking up a large space in the very front.

The problem was they were not even looking at the city below. They were posing for selfies – lots of them! They laid on the floor and posed. They struck different standing poses and snapped. I walked around and returned to that same spot about ten minutes later. They were still there! Posing in pursuit of the perfect selfie with New York City in the background.

I doubt they noticed the other people who would have liked to snap a picture where they had set up camp. I wondered why they didn’t turn around and enjoy the panoramic view with their God given eyes instead of the phone screen. With screens taking center stage, women can be obsessed with capturing the perfect photo to show the world.

Yet Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Selfish ambition is a work of the flesh, not of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:26 (NIV) instructs, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each another.”

Does that mean it’s wrong to pose for a selfie? No – it can be a perfectly appropriate way to capture a moment. But there is cause for concern if you find that…

-You are overly concerned with portraying yourself a certain way to impress others

-You take numerous photos of the same pose to get it just right

-You compare your selfie to others and take mental notes on how you can improve yours

-You feel conceited when you see how favorable you look compared to others

-You are more interested in taking a selfie than meeting someone new or talking with an acquaintance

The Bible tells us to value others above ourselves. When we place the lens of our focus on the needs of others (instead of our own interests), we are having the same mindset as Jesus Christ. Popular culture fights against this notion. “Selfie” wasn’t even a word in the dictionary until 2013 but it’s commonplace today. The constant tracking of self can lead to a growing indifference towards others. The bigger we become inside the frame, the smaller everyone else becomes.

When you walk into a room, do you take the attitude of “Here I am!” or do you step in the doorway and think, “Ah, there you are!” Turning our “selfie” focus into an “others” focus takes practice and intention. God calls us to be “There you are!” people, women who are genuinely interested in others. But we live in a selfie world that caters to our natural instinct to preserve and exalt ourselves.

It’s time to switch things up. Instead of spending too much time preparing the perfect selfie, let’s quickly snap a picture of ourselves and then spend the bulk of our time focused on others. That view is much more meaningful.

Remember the teenage girls from the Freedom Tower? They walked out with some great selfies, but they never really took the time to take in the view. They missed out. Don’t miss the amazing people and things happening around you because you’re focused on your phone. Make it your daily practice to notice others in a selfie world.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!