His Steadfast Love

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.”  Lamentations 3:22-23

Have you ever thought about that?  “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.”  Webster’s dictionary defines steadfast as “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.”  It goes on to use words like loyal, true, constant, devoted, unchanging, unwavering, unhesitating, unfaltering, unswerving, unyielding, uncompromising.

How do we love like that?

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I think we look at Jesus’ example.  In Matthew 9, starting at verse 27, we read about two blind men who followed after Jesus calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”  Jesus stopped and asked them if they believed He could heal them.  They said, “Yes.”  He touched their eyes and their sight was restored.  He went on through all the towns and villages, teaching, preaching, and healing every disease and sickness.

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Verse 36 says, “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus had exactly what they needed.  He stopped and He gave.  In fact, He gave it ALL!  He knew He wasn’t here long.  He gave everything every moment He had until He was used up on the cross.

He gave when He was tired, when He was frustrated, when they spit on Him He still gave His life for them.  He was intentional with His love.  And last, He made sure all glory went to the Father.  He gave thanks and got away to quiet places to be refreshed and renewed.  Each new day, He got a fresh infilling of what He needed.  He spent time in prayer and drew strength from there.  This helped Him remain steadfast in love.

How will we?  Are you intentional about loving others?

Do you remain steadfast even when they don’t receive it?  Even when you are criticized, misunderstood, condemned, and persecuted, can you still be about your Father’s business of loving others?  And then, will you still give the glory to Him?

Love…is ALL about Him.  He deserves it and the world will know Him by the way you show it.

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We Have Hope

IMG_4633.jpgThis advent season, I have hope. I have hope that God is who he says he is. He will do what he says he will do. There is nothing in the world I love more right now then journeying through this life with my Jesus. To place my hope in him means everything will be OK. He uses all things for good. He doesn’t miss a thing. He is there for you, just call on him.
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His love is a mystery. I can’t explain it at all. But I’ll be waiting for him. When he’s placed in the manger, I’ll be there. With the animals, and Mary, sweet Mary and Joseph. In AWE. *
The Savior has come! He has redeemed my soul and I rejoice. I sing praises to him with the Angels for he has come. He is the same yesterday, today and forever!
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He calls me to follow him. To run with him. So we journey together, he and I forever and ever. My heart sings and it’s full of hope and love and joy! So much joy! Emmanuel, God is with us.

The Snorkeling Incident

2 Samuel 22:3 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation.  He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior – “  David’s Song of Praise

green coral reef under water

The ocean is so beautiful and so terrifying at the same time.  I love the sounds of the waves and seagulls and families playing together.  I love the boats and jet skis and I’ve been on a couple of cruises that I’ve enjoyed very much.  It reminds me how powerful and big God is.  I picture Him walking out on the water and calming the sea with His words.

I love Seaworld and watching undersea life on television.  I cried the first time I showed my kids a live Shamu show!  It was so magical and I thanked God for allowing me to make a memory like that.

But here is my amazing story I want to share with you about a near death experience I had last summer…

We went on a cruise with friends as we have done before.  We went to Cozumel and bought an excursion which included a beautiful resort and snorkeling.  I had no intention of snorkeling but would go and support.

When we arrived to the resort that day, my curiosity peaked as I saw all that they would see and it WAS a once in a lifetime adventure.  It wasn’t necessarily on my bucket list but I was curious.  I do love a good adventure!  I talked myself into giving it a try.  However, I was not at all prepared.

I did not have the proper clothes/bathing suit, did not have my contacts in but wearing glasses, had no water shoes and have had no experience breathing with a snorkel nor am I the greatest swimmer!  I had determination and a dream.  Ok, this was a disaster from the start!

At this particular snorkeling spot, there was no training and just a roped off area way in the distance where you were “forbidden” to venture past.  You were assumed to be “good” at this and given the gear and told where not to go or touch.  The walls were jagged and deep and had many sea urchins attached that could cut you.  They said to, “Be careful”.  I was already having second thoughts…

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I put on my mask, snorkel and fins (which I have never swam in before) and couldn’t see that well as I left my glasses on the edge of the wall.  There was a ladder to help us climb down into the water and it had a small platform to sit on submerged in the water.

One by one, people just glided into the water so gracefully.  It looked so easy and even children were doing it (supervised, of course).  Our friend went first, then my husband.  I sat on the edge for what seemed like 10 minutes.  With a lot of coaxing from strangers as well as my husband and friend, I decided to try.

I let go of the ladder and immediately drifted forward.  The current was so strong!  I saw colored fish in blue like Dory in Finding Nemo, yellow tang and some clown fish.  Then it dawned on me that I could not touch the bottom.  I could not touch or hold onto anything!  I began to panic.  My husband and friend were pulled out by the current past me and all I could think about was getting back to the ladder.  I was a good 20 feet from it.

2 Samuel 22:5 “The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.  The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.”

The harder I tried to swim, the more tired I got.

The current overwhelmed me and my husband came like superman to help me.  I was now about to drown and he fought as hard as he could to get me to the ladder.  He was coughing up water because of my splashing and now I was afraid to pull him under too. The current was incredibly strong.

2 Samuel 22:17-18  “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.  He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes who were too strong for me.”

He told me to just relax and let him pull me.  The only rational thought that came to me was I don’t want to drown him too. My husband says he had never seen that look on my face before which said I had given up.  I was completely exhausted.  He flung me into the ladder like a hero and when I hit it, I grabbed it like a security blanket.

Our friend was struggling to get back and when she got close, I grabbed her too.

They made sure I was safe, rested a bit and then ventured out again when I encouraged them too.  That seems funny to write but the beauty that was there outweighed their fear of getting back in.  They were confident swimmers.  They had peace to get back out there, I didn’t.  I remained on the ladder watching the fish from there.

At that moment, is when I had a conversation with God.  

A voice told me and it was almost audible…“He is excited to see you too.”

Then God said “You can get back in that water and you will come see Me (in heaven).  Or you can stay and live your life.”

God gave me a choice:  live or come see Me.  The choice was mine. But He wanted me to choose to live because I wasn’t.  I was stuck.  I was motionless in my life like someone took my toy away and I let them.

Circumstances come and knock us off course and sometimes we are just numb.  I couldn’t move in that water, I froze.  I was waiting to be overtaken by the waves because it was all too much for me.  Sometimes life is that way.  We quit living.

My husband and friend had now drifted a ways off and were unable to return back to the ladder again.  As my husband thought in is head, God, where do we go?  How do we get out of here?

A man appeared on the edge of the rocks.  He didn’t say anything but pointed to the right. We believe he was an angel.  Though he didn’t say a word, my husband heard him speak clearly where to go and he gave him a thumbs up.  My husband swam to our friend to let her know where to go and when he turned back around, the man had disappeared.  I was sitting on the pier watching and I never saw a man.

Later at dinner, my husband and I cried at how close we came to losing each other.  It has forever changed our marriage and purpose in life.

Another thing that God showed me, is I did not call out to God in my distress.

I wanted what I could see:  the ladder.

Do I trust you God when the waves are crushing me and out of my control?

I did not have my eyes on Him and I missed the ocean beauty that my friend and husband got to see.

When we operate in fear, we flounder.  There is no peace.

The Bible says when we call out to the Lord, He hears us.  He will rescue you!

2 Samuel 22:7-16 says “In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God.  From His temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.  The earth trembled and quaked, the foundations of the heavens shook; they trembled because he was angry.  Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it.  He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet.  He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind.  He made darkness his canopy around him – the dark rain clouds of the sky.  Out of the brightness of his presence bolts of lightning blazed forth.  The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.  He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them.  The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the Lord, at the blast of breath from his nostrils.” 

Glory be to God! He comes to the rescue when we cry out in our distress!  He loves to help us and He shows up in might and power.

Someday read all of 2 Samuel chapter 22.  It is awesome!

May God bless you today for He is with you.

Unity even to disagree

Ephesians 4  As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. …

If you are a member of Christ’s body, The Church, then you are called to unity.

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All through the Bible, God calls us to unity.   It is always best to stay and work through disagreements in love and understanding because you will come out better and love will abound.

When two people who love the Lord have a disagreement, they will be united even if they part ways or disagree. There will still be peace, love, respect and harmony.  If not, something is wrong.  There is an action that must be taken.

Sometimes a true apology needs to be said, there is fear, there is pride, envy or selfishness…etc.

Joy can only come when there is a mutual love and striving towards unity.  Sometimes we don’t want to.  It is WORK to do this, but I promise when God is at the center of both people and their relationship, it will work.  God’s Word is true!  He wouldn’t ask you to do something that’s not possible.

You may think a relationship is too far gone, but no my friend!  All things are possible with God! Taking the easy way out will never be better than doing it God’s way.  It may be hard, but it’s always worth it.  The world will know Him by the way we love.   Surrender your relationships to Him and watch what He does!

2 Chronicles 30:12  Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the Lord.

Psalm 133:1  How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

John 17:23  I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

1 Corinthians 12:12  Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

Ephesians 1:10  to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

Ephesians 4:1  As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Ephesians 4:3  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:13  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Philippians 4:1   Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

Colossians 3:14  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Friendship – Are we unequally yoked?

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Being yoked to something means to be tethered to or be in close relationship with another.  You can be unequally yoked in a marriage, but did you know it can apply to friendships also?

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In 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Paul writes,  “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial (devil)?  What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?

For we are the temple of the living God.  As God has said:  ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.  Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’ ”

Can you be unequally yoked as friends??  Absolutely!

Don’t compromise who’s in your circle

Remember who you are.  You’re a daughter/son of the King.  You represent Him in all that you do.  Don’t submit to peer pressure.  Yes, we even experience it as adults.  Choose friends that share your same love for the Lord and grow together.   Love others but don’t be in close relationship with those who don’t share your same faith because they can pull you down.

Don’t stop growing hoping the other person will catch up to you

When you are unequally yoked as friends, you may want to “slow down” your growth so that your friend may catch up to you.  This is also a type of compromise but it just means that is not the best friend for you on this leg of your journey.  As friends, iron sharpens iron, but that means both are growing.  Friends should not pull you down or feel like a weight.  Friendships should be developing and changing and becoming more like Christ.  He is always the focus.  Don’t compromise your growth to keep your friend.

Stay alert and in obedience to the Lord

Obeying the Lord can be tough when it comes to friendships.  Sometimes we outgrow our friends.  Maybe a friend that was once good for you, is no longer and you have to be willing to let go. He will guide you with His gentle or sometimes loud voice and through His Word.  His Spirit will tell you who to be friends with and who is not a good match for you if you let Him.

And honestly, Jesus is your best friend!  He will never leave you or forsake you. I talk to Him like I would another friend all throughout my day and you know what?  He loves it! He delights in me and He does in you too!

Keep Christ at the center of your life and your relationships 

This is my prayer.  In every relationship, be intentional about keeping Christ at the center.  You will experience a richness and be tremendously blessed when you do this.  You will find so much joy!  He brings people together for His purpose and for His glory!

 

 

 

The Need To Be Liked

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I never knew I had a need to be liked…until I wasn’t.

Has that happened to you?  Have you ever known that you were disliked by another person?  Have you had the sting of walking by someone you once knew, and they look right past you like you’re a stranger?  Have you been plotted against, talked about behind your back?  Have you ever been ambushed in a meeting or not been invited at all? Have the kids turned on you at school?  It seems no matter what you do, you can’t change their perspective.  Then there’s social media…

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Even on social media, we get so caught up in being approved and getting more followers. We post our posts and wait to see who will like them.  No doubt I’ve been there caught up in the cycle. When they don’t like what we posted and scroll on by,  does it makes us second guess ourselves?  When they don’t acknowledge us, what does that do to who we are?

NOTHING

Absolutely nothing,  my precious friend.

I have great news!  Jesus knows exactly how it feels to be liked as well as unliked.  He didn’t forget His mission and try harder to please people.  And the fact is, you will never be able to please everyone. His mission was clear and His approval did not come from man. He had followers and then didn’t have followers.  His closest companions deserted Him too.  In His most darkest hour and time of need, they fell asleep and later when they arrested Him, they fled.

Even God had to look away, as Jesus beared the weight of our sins on the cross.  He cried out to God saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” Jesus knows the pain of people not liking you. He did not compromise His mission here on earth to please people.  He set His eyes on things above.

The Bible says in Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” 

The same God that was there back then, is the same God here with you today. He loved you then and loves you now.  He knows and has felt your struggles.  His love never changes, it remains the same.

In Proverbs 18:24 it says, “He is the “friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  He promises to never leave you or forsake you.  His promises are true and He can give you acceptance and peace, right where you are.  You are never alone!

Don’t give in to the temptation to please people.  Set your eyes on Jesus!  He understands and He can meet every need you have.  He is good!