A Little Reminder From God


Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV.

I am such a mess. I hate how I am. I can’t ever get a handle on this issue.

Thoughts of self-hatred coursed through my mind as I sat on the hard-tile floor and took it all in. . . Within the cabinets I’d just spent twenty minutes rearranging, there still was no semblance of organization. Papers shot out of books. Bags heaped left and right in no particular order. Shoes and knick-knacks filled the right side of the cabinet. And, worst of all, electrical cords stood like tumbleweed in the center of it all.

Regarding cleaning and organizing, my best efforts fell – way short. And this is the problem. You see, no matter what I do, everything stays a mess. I fix things for a moment, until: my kids come home and mess things up, I get busy and I forget to keep up with it all, or clutter becomes impossible to throw out because I fear I’ll lose future-memories.

I want to be a better mom than this; my family deserves better.

With a heavy heart, I decided to approach my husband, “Uh…,” I said. “Can I share something with you?”

He waited.

“There’s an area I haven’t told you about where – all the time — I feel so angry at myself. Every time I open up a cabinet, I mentally get furious at how I feel like I’m the most unorganized woman on the planet.”

Compassionately, he looked at me and replied, “Well, maybe Jesus just wants you to remind you that His grace is sufficient.”

And He was right. I finally understood. My cabinets – and my deficiency — are a blessing, not a curse.

How could a deficiency be a blessing? Deficiencies point us to Christ’s all-sufficiency. Through them, we come to the One prepared to help us. The One with answers. The One with all the grace to accomplish true and long-lasting life-change.

Grace accomplishes far more than our hardest labor ever could. Certainly, God often calls us to meet Him in this venture by working, but work without God is — toil.

My cabinets would now be a reminder of this. They, in all their untidy-glory, would almost speak, “Kelly, invite Jesus in to help you with this.”

Where do you need to invite Jesus in? What personal issue do you hate to look at? What feels unconquerable? Heavy? Burdening?

Jesus’ grace is sufficient. It is sufficient to change you, to rework you, to remake you, and to renew you.

It is more than okay to desperately need Jesus’ grace. It is life-changing to be in need of God.

Be encouraged. Wherever you feel powerless, God is powerful. Wherever you are hungry, God has food for you. Wherever you feel blind, God restores sight. You are not left behind or forgotten. God will help.

Today, rejoice by saying: No matter where I feel deficient, Christ is all-sufficient.

But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV

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!

Don’t Stop Too Soon


Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message….

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised”  ~ Hebrews 10:35-36 NIV.

Can I make a confession? Sometimes I quit too soon. I’ve quit when what I really needed to do was to press on and press through. Sometimes I’ve gotten tired of trying. Sometimes I’ve gotten tired of the struggle. And you know what? I’ve missed many blessings because I got tired of the battle. I don’t want to do that any longer. I’m taking my cues from Joshua.

The battle plan to take the Promised Land was as simple as it was strange. March around the city of Jericho with all the armed men. Do this in silence, once a day for six days. Then on the seventh day, walk around seven times with the priests blowing the trumpets. Have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go straight in.

Now, that was a strange plan. God’s infinite ways often don’t make sense in our finite minds. Sometimes you have to be willing to look ridiculous and be radical to live a remarkable life. The choices you make when you feel God’s nudge will become the hinges on which your destiny swings. Each individual decision you make, to obey or ignore God’s promptings and directives, is a thread that weaves the tapestry of your life.

Jericho was tightly shut up. Sometimes it can feel that our promises are tightly shut up. That doesn’t mean that we give up. That means that we suit up, step up, and keep moving forward.

God said, “See, I have delivered them into your hands.” Notice that verb tense. God did not say, “I will deliver them into your hands.” He said, “I have delivered them into your hands.” He had already done it, but they had to obey and put their foot down to receive it. I love how God speaks in past tense to our present problems.

But here’s the conundrum: What do you do when what God says doesn’t match up with what you see? When all you see is a big wall standing between your promise and your present situation?
There will be times when you are doing everything you know to do, and you still don’t see any movement. The Israelites walked around Jericho for six days, and as far as they could tell, nothing happened. I’m sure it unnerved the people behind the wall, but as far as the walkers could tell, not one brick fell.

This is where many give up—when they don’t see any progress. The son is still taking drugs. The daughter is still living with her boyfriend. The husband is still cold and aloof. The bank account is still hovering on in double digits.

“God, throw me a bone,” I cry. “Show me a little something! Let me see just a hint of progress! Can I see one brick fall?” And God says, “Keep walking … by faith.”

Just because you don’t see God working does not mean that He isn’t. Jesus said, “My Father is always at work” (John 5:17). The writer of Hebrews notes: “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35).

Today, you might be on lap number seven and not even know it. Joshua told them to march around Jericho, but he didn’t tell them how many times they were going to have to do it. He just said to “march forward” and “remain silent.”

Supposed they had stopped on day six saying, “This is ridiculous. I’m not feelin’ it. Not one stone has fallen to the ground. I don’t see any progress. Those folks are probably in there laughing their heads off. I’m going home.”

They would have missed the blessing.

I wonder how many times I have missed the blessing because I stopped too soon. Perhaps you’ve wondered:

  • How much longer will I have to wait until God brings my prodigal home?
  • How much longer will I have to struggle with this unbelieving husband?
  • How much longer will I have to endure this dead-end job?
  • How much longer will I have to go without a job?
  • How many more laps will I have to walk around Jericho before the walls come tumbling down and I can take hold of my Promised Land?

I don’t know the answer to the question of how much longer, but I do know this, tomorrow could be the final lap. Don’t give up too soon.

Can I tell you something? Sometimes I get tired of writing books, posting devotions, and crafting blogs. But as I sit down to the keyboard, I realize that something I say might be just what someone needs to take that last lap around her walled up promise. So I write. And then someone has the courage and sustenance to take one more lap.

Keep going, my friend!  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

When You Feel Discouraged

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message..

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded ~ Hebrews 10:35 NIV.

Have you ever gone through a period of discouragement? Perhaps you’re in one right now. Believe me, I’ve been right there with you. I’ve hidden in the cave with Elijah, under the gourd plant with Jonah, and in the dessert with Moses.

Discouragement comes when there is a gap between what you expect and what you experience—when there is a gap between what you hoped would happen and what actually does happen.

Discouragement can destroy your passion and undermine your purpose. It can take root because of what others say or didn’t say—a mom who said too much or a dad who said too little. Unmet expectations can become the breeding ground for discouragement to multiply and take root.

We certainly see that in Moses’s life. When Moses was forty years old, he expected to be the deliverer for his people. But what he experienced was rejection and regret. Forty years later, when God called him to lead the enslaved Israelites out of Egypt, Moses argued:

Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exod. 4:10).

This statement that came out of Moses’s stuttering lips was simply not true. As Stephen reminded us: “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action” (Acts 7:22). Moses had defined himself by his failure and was held hostage by a constant state of discouragement. Oh friend, we need to be so careful to not do the same.

Discouragement causes many a believer to pull up a lawn chair in cul-de-sac Christianity and refuse to venture out to the adventurous faith. They mumble the words “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” over their hopes and dreams. They fill the gap between what they hope for and what they experience with the false belief that dreams aren’t worth the effort.

What we tend to see as a permanent condition, God sees as a temporary situation. What you see as one of your greatest setbacks might be one of God’s incredible setups for marvelous miracles to occur. If you are meeting resistance in your hopes and dreams, then you’re most likely on the right track. The devil wouldn’t mess with you if you weren’t a menace to his plans and a valuable asset to God.

What the devil really wants to do is to steal your confidence, and the best time to rob you blind is during a season of disappointment. Guard your heart. Don’t be caught unaware and allow him to hold you back, trip you up or slow you down. The circumstances are, well, just circumstantial—collateral damage in the real battle to take away your confidence in Christ.

So don’t let the devil win. You are more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus!

Let go of debilitating discouragement and take hold of your next assignment!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

You Are Beloved and Chosen

 

Thank you Holley Gerth for today’s message.

I step into a Junior High lunch room that smells like old fries and sticky plastic trays. I scan the scene—the popular kids at one table, bookworms at another, the theater crowd and the athletes and the rebels. Who will look up and invite me over?

Tell me who I am.

My friends and I have crushes and dates and boyfriends. We fix our hair a hundred different ways. Crowd into dressing rooms to try a thousand different outfits. Loop silver and gold through our ears. The doorbell rings and he is holding roses.

Tell me who I am.

I am typing into a small screen and pressing “publish.” Sending my heart in black and white into the internet. There will be comments and likes, criticisms and compliments. I watch the cursor blink.

Tell me who I am.

Isn’t this the whisper of our hearts as women? The friends, the men, the crowd. They will tell us if we are okay. If we are worthy. If we are enough. Isn’t that their job?

But then I bump into this verse, “But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all people” (John 2:24). All people. The popular kids and the bookworms, the theater crowd and the athletes and the rebels. This verse has been there all along and it’s been a head-scratcher for me. He didn’t entrust Himself to them?

Then suddenly it occurs to me this might the answer: Jesus is the only human to walk this spinning planet and not say Tell me who I am. He didn’t look to others to definite His identity, to determine His worth. “Instead He entrusted himself to Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). “Judge” has a reputation of being a harsh word but I don’t think that’s the meaning here. I think it’s saying that God alone knows the truest-truth and that’s why His opinion is the only one that really matters.

Of course, we are going to care what others think. We’re going to desire acceptance and want to fit in. This is the way we’re created to connect. The only folks who don’t are sociopaths. So, no guilt about this, no shame or hardening our hearts. Instead we can simply say, “But God gets the final word.”

Tell me who I am.

And God says we are beloved and chosen, cherished and gifted, wanted and a divinely-shaped wonder.

When someone says, “You’ll never amount to anything,” He says, “You can do all things because I strengthen you” (Philippians 4:13).

When someone tells us, “You don’t look the right way,” He whispers, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

When someone implies, “You aren’t wanted,” He declares, “I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1b).

God is the One who gives us our identities. He is the One who sets us free from condemnation and comparison, hustling to be liked and trying to be perfect. He is the One right there with us every time we feel tempted to listen to the lies. May His love always be louder than any other voice.

Tell us who we are.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!