Day 15: Facing the Future

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

As we look through the ruins behind us, the past does not have to define us, but serves as a monument of what God brought us through.

Scripture of the Day:

Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

We have been facing a lot of difficult strongholds in the past couple weeks – fear, depression, disillusionment, judgment, sin, memories, reality and enemies. Some struggles we may have been aware of, some maybe not. The future on earth is a little more difficult to define, though. We cannot know it. At all. Such is the human condition. So how does one face the unknown? By faith.

Faith is the daughter of hope. We are confident not in faith itself, but solely in the object of our faith – our unchanging, faithful God.

The nebulous nature of what is to come can create in us a dependence on God or a shrinking back in fear, unsure of what God will allow across our path. This place of insecurity is beautiful, as it strips us of ourselves and brings us to our God, Who alone is our future.

Sometimes the past hurts so much that the future seems impossible. But, like the faith-filled saints who have gone before us in Hebrews 11, we can have a firm hope in the future because we know God’s promises are yes and amen.

In the hall of fame of faith, we see saints of old who did not receive what was promised on this earth, but their faith in God led them to live sold-out to the promises of God. Sobered by life’s often harsh realities, we learn that we cannot live for this world – it could never fully satisfy.

This hope in what is to come is not for our lives to be perfect and not just for the promised reward. It is a hope that God will make every wrong right, that we will finally no longer be apart from Him and be in His presence. A hope that we will be like Him.

Let those words sink in. To be like Jesus. That is our chief goal in this life and God promises to fulfill it. Delivered from this earthly frame, there will be no more burden of sin. No more fear of man. No more tears, no more pain. What a hope this is!

As we look through the ruins behind us, the past does not have to define us, but serves as a monument of what God brought us through. As we seek to process the past and ready ourselves for the future, the lessons learned in all of our struggles and victories can prove invaluable.

Nothing is wasted in God’s hands and everything is redeemed for use in the future. Wow, what a hope. No longer do we have to fear what this life brings, for it is temporary and our hope is fixed on Christ alone!

Lord, thank You for a living hope that never fades – kept in Heaven by You. Help us to not lost sight when life makes us weary. Give us a new hope that is only in You.

 

 

 

 

Mundane Monday: Keep on Keepin’ On

When life just seems to disappear (1)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When life seems to disappear into a sea of never-ending challenges or failed attempts at reaching our goals, if we will just keep keepin’ on – each of those steps is one step closer to achieving our goals.

Scriptures of the Day:

Galatians 6:9

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.”

Philippians 1:6

“…Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”


Pursuing dreams is hard work. Seems unreachable and takes all we’ve got. But what would it be like if we never had a goal to pursue to start with? No bucket list, no aspirations. Just existing. Doesn’t sound like much fun.

Somehow in the longing and straining to be faithful to develop the talents God has given there is a peace. Even though the results of our efforts might not be what we had hoped, there is a sense of purpose in doing what instinctively God has placed on our heart.

When there is a calling deep within our soul, to deny it or to not work toward that calling for fear of failure is a miserable existence. Sure, it is a bummer when it seems like we take two steps forward and one step back, but even this is progress. 

When life seems to disappear into a sea of never-ending challenges or failed attempts at reaching our goals, if we will just keep keepin’ on – each of those steps is one step closer to achieving our goals.

I hope this blog encourages whoever is reading it to continue to chase after that calling in your heart. I know I needed it. But even if my eyes never see what I am aiming toward, the best relief in pressing toward our goals is that as we seek to work hard, God is the One who brings the results He wants. Ultimately the pressure is off of us to produce the final result.

Isn’t that good news? And the fruit and character developed as we labor toward our goals and dreams is perhaps the most precious reward of all.

Oh God, all I have is Yours. Extend my territory as You will. May I be faithful to seek You and Your righteousness and to make You known.

Mundane Monday: Stubborn Hope

 

Stubborn Hope (1)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The hope we have in Christ is sure and steady; a never failing, firm foundation.

Scripture of the Day:

Ephesians 1:18

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”

Sleepy eyes and Mondays go together like peanut butter and jelly. It can take awhile to get back into the swing of things, but reality and deadlines hit us square in the eyes whether we like it or not.

But here we have eyes of another sort being opened. A revelation of our souls to know the hope of the amazing salvation and eternal rewards that God has for His people. What an encouragement on a Monday, right?

Problem is that our work weeks and lives can be daunting, and hope is often deflated or crushed when challenges arise.

But this hope does not depend on any surrounding circumstances.

No, it is a fact predetermined in Heaven. A quiet stirring in our souls, reminding us that this is not our home. This stubborn hope looks out at the landscape of life and smiles inwardly at the promise within.

We are called to this hope. More than that, this hope is a certainty that God will use all things for our good. This hope is the knowledge that every wrong will be righted. This hope is that God sees and redeems. This hope is that our salvation has been achieved forever and cannot be stolen.

Our hearts can be strengthened to carry on if we will allow our hearts to focus on God’s hope instead of focusing on the hopes the world has, which are merely temporal.

Finding this hope might seem like an esoteric enigma, but it is so simple we often stumble over it. Searching for hope in people leaves us bankrupt, but searching in His living Word gives us a living hope that never fades, reserved for all who believe in Jesus.

Lord, thank You that You have not left us without hope. No matter what happens in this life, we have You, our treasure – both now and for all eternity – to guide us.

 

Thoughtful Thursday: Treasured Treasure

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Something might not have even been precious to us previously, but the absence of it makes its value increase exponentially.

Scriptures of the Day:

Proverb 2:1-5

“My child, if you receive my words, and store up my commands within you, by making your ear attentive to wisdom, and by turning your heart to understanding, indeed, if you call out for discernment – raise your voice for understanding –if you seek it like silver, and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand how to fear the Lord, and you will discover knowledge about God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. 7 He stores up effective counsel for the upright, and is like a shield for those who live with integrity, 8 to guard the paths of the righteous and to protect the way of his pious ones. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity – every good way. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and moral knowledge will be attractive to you. 11 Discretion will protect you, understanding will guard you, 12 to deliver you from the way of the wicked, from those speaking perversity.”

The thrill of the hunt is the height of our pursuit, until we find that precious treasure we were hunting for. Once we have found what our hearts longed for, we have peace and satisfaction – until another treasure calls our name.

When we lose something dear to us or something we needed to function in this life, everything else suddenly pales until we find that thing. It might not have even been precious to us previously, but the absence of it makes its value increase exponentially. It is in this moment of revelation that we are grateful and realize we took for granted the treasure we had.

With each each quest for treasure is a burning need for what we are searching for and at the same time a sense of our status of being unworthy of receiving the gift of the treasure in the first place.

If life is about going on one treasure hunt after another and never being fully satisfied with that treasure once we find it, then it is in vain that we pursue such a temporary pleasure, yet an inward craving for something more urges us on.

But there is a lasting treasure that calls out to those who will listen. It’s jewels never fade and the treasure hunter never ceases to discover new beauty within the treasure trove. It is the treasury of wisdom.

For me there is a delight in learning. The discovery of knowledge that was before hidden from my understanding is a delight to my soul. But it does not compare to the sheer ecstatic joy I feel when reading God’s word and the inward burning in my soul imparting truth deep in my heart.

Some walk right past wisdom and don’t recognize its value. Walking in His wisdom, we understand our purpose on this earth and don’t waste our days with temporary treasures. When we don’t understand, wisdom teaches us the value of fearing God so we live in a way that pleases Him. Everything is suddenly viewed through the lens of God’s perspective. When this crazy world tries to distract us, wisdom guides us to God’s deeper purposes and sets our hearts at ease.

This insight from God’s word is not just knowledge stuck on a shelf. It is our very life and a constant companion in all of life. Understanding the God of this universe is the highest treasure we could ever receive – even if it is only in part, for His vastness is far superior to any learning we could ever obtain and there is no end to the limitless wisdom of God.

Lord, thank You for the treasure of You. Help us to chase after You and never tire of seeking You. You are beautiful and our heart’s desire.

Denise Pass Promo Pic Denise Pass | Author | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Truthful Tuesday: Steward of Grace

Stewards of grace

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our unique voice reaches exactly who we are called to.

Scripture of the Day:

Ephesians 3:1-4, 17-19

1 “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles 2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that by revelation the divine secret was made known to me, as I wrote before briefly.4 When reading this, you will be able to understand my insight into this secret of Christ. 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, 18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

Blind to the ways of God, we are desperate for our God to have mercy on us. When we cry out and ask Jesus to save us, it is in that place that we are then given a trust – the LORD opens our eyes to see and understand His great salvation.

But how do we steward this undeserved grace? We are called to nurture our faith and to give it away, to invest what we have learned in the lives of others. But more than that, to search His precious Word and seek to know and understand Him more.

 

A steward must prove faithful and not take for granted the great gift he is given. There is no credit on our behalf, for all that we have was freely given to us. Instead, the steward seeks to magnify the One Who owns what we are stewarding.

In our desire to fulfill the position of steward, we cannot lose sight of the Kingdom purposes and our role of bringing people to meet Christ. We are just empty vessels filled to overflowing, and God has desired us to play a part.

Each of us will have different gifts and callings that we are held accountable to and they cannot be compared, but our unique voice reaches exactly who we are called to.

Lord, thank You for calling us and entrusting Your great salvation to us to share with Your people. Help us to be faithful stewards, all for Your glory.

Denise Pass Promo PicDenise Pass | Author | Artist | Speaker | Worship Leader

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Mundane Monday: Hope in Affliction

No Grit No Pearl Blog

Galatians 4:13

“But you know it was because of a physical illness that I first proclaimed the gospel to you.”


Being sick is no fun. I ought to know. Diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases, I have had to learn that delicate balance of trying not to do too much to push myself into a flare up but also challenging myself to live a full life.

Ironically, I have a very full plate and do not even like to look at all God has me doing. But there is a difference when it is not in fact you doing it, but Christ doing it through you.

As much as these illnesses have been a source of discouragement, they have also been my greatest joy. No, that was not a typo. How could infirmity and weakness be something that leads me to joy? It is because in those moments of pain and sorrow, I cried out. I drew nearer to my God and it flowed out into the formation of this blog and encouragement of others, as well as myself.

Paul wanted his “thorn in the flesh” removed, and so do we all, but he also recognized how God would use for the benefit of others what most look at as a handicap and a burden.

God does not look at things as we do. Where we see inconvenience God sees opportunity. Where we see pain God sees character and where we feel sorrow and burden, God wants to be our joy.

Sometimes I have wondered why God could not impart deep truths without the suffering. It would be a lot easier to write songs and sing them from a place of physical strength, I reasoned with the LORD. But perhaps living a perfectly comfortable life would not enable us to have the depth of understanding needed to go deeper.  God gets our attention with afflictions so we can remember what is really important and stay on mission.

A little pain causes us to either want to escape it or to give in to the pain and let it defeat us. It was not until I was hospitalized for 9 days with pneumonia that I realized this illness could be an opportunity to impact those around me more than a moment of self pity. The suffering was great, but my God was greater. My greatest triumph was rising from my bed to write the Scripture of the day on the dry erase board. My greatest joy was giving away the flowers given to me to everyone up and down my hall who had no gifts. My sweetest moment – fellowship with the LORD in that place and a nurse who rededicated her life to God. Character earned – hubby told me I had “true grit”.  🙂

Everything in this life is not about us. Surrendered to God in whatever curve the road takes us on, we begin to see that afflictions, blessings, joys, sorrows – all come through His hand with the purpose of more people knowing the goodness of the LORD at all times. The beauty formed in each vessel that allows the grit of life to work in them for God’s glory is irreplaceable and not found anywhere else.

We are not forgotten in times of affliction, no, instead we are remembered. Jesus understands. He walked that road of affliction first. 

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Thoughtful Thursday: True Obedience

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

God deserves our very best – not because He’s picky, but because He is worthy.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Samuel 13:12

I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down on me at Gilgal and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt obligated to offer the burnt offering.”

1 Samuel 15:8,9,19-21

“He captured King Agag of the Amalekites alive, but he executed all Agag’s people with the sword. 9 However, Saul and the army spared Agag, along with the best of the flock, the cattle, the fatlings, and the lambs, as well as everything else that was of value. They were not willing to slaughter them. But they did slaughter everything that was despised and worthless.” 19 “Why haven’t you obeyed the LORD? Instead you have greedily rushed upon the plunder! You have done what is wrong in the LORD’s estimation. 20 Then Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the LORD! I went on the campaign the LORD sent me on. I brought back King Agag of the Amalekites after exterminating the Amalekites. But the army took from the plunder some of the sheep and cattle – the best of what was to be slaughtered – to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.”

Obedience – that ugly word our flesh recoils at. It seems old fashioned. Uptight. Legalistic. Or at least our rebellious culture tells us. But God’s design of authority is intended to be loving and kind, because He sees the dangers of stepping outside the pleasant boundaries He has placed for us.

Saul was doing all the right things. At least from the outside it appeared so. He sought the LORD’s favor and offered a burnt offering. Except his motivation had some problems – first, he felt obligated. Not feeling the love on that attitude. It also smacks of a manipulative kind of obedience – he had to do it and did it to get what he wanted – the favor of God. The only problem is, God sees what is going on in the inside.

God gave a command. Very clear and simple. Exterminate the Amalekites – I know, it sounds cruel, but they were a wicked people and God knew they would turn the hearts of His people. Here we see another problem with Saul’s response. Whether or not Saul understood the “why” to God’s command, he should have fully obeyed, but instead the word tells us that he was “not willing” to slaughter the animals. His will overrode God’s command. Sounds pretty awful, yet we can be guilty of the same thing.

Rationalizing the grey areas away when the Holy Spirit convicts us is no less of an obedience issue than Saul’s. In the name of freedom we can redefine what God has said, yet we are shackling ourselves to the chains of compromise instead. Turns out partial obedience is not obedience at all.

Samuel later said it was the motivation of greed that was a stumbling block, as well. Saul made it appear pious by saying he spared the sheep so he could sacrifice them to God, but half truths don’t stand to well before a Holy God. You just can’t fool Him. He will not be mocked.

Fear also cropped up as a valid reason why it was ok to twist God’s word. Didn’t God see the vast army? Surely He would not expect obedience to such a command, would He? Excuses, excuses. Mercy – I understand it, because my flesh likes to excuse itself, as well. Fear points to a lack of trust in the God Who called us in the first place.

Pride was Saul’s downfall, as well, and yet another aspect of Saul’s response that hindered Him from simple obedience. Samuel even finds Saul building a monument to himself. Every time we obey on our terms it leads to big trouble. It is prideful to think that we know better than the Omniscient One, and God knows fully the consequences of trying to accomplish something in the flesh instead of according to His perfect way.

Lastly, Saul pulled the famous “blame game” and scapegoated the army. They were the ones who kept the sheep and items of value. Clever. But the one in charge is responsible for those under his command.

Much like the attitude of Cain, whose offering was not what God required nor his best, we need to guard ourselves from thinking it is okay to define what is acceptable to God on our terms. He is an unchanging Holy God Who deserves our very best – not because He’s picky, but because He is worthy. Worthy of us delighting to obey the One Who created us in the first place.

Lord, please forgive us when we forget Your expectations or try to do things our way. Help us to live lives worthy of how awesome You are and to do things Your way. You know best.

Mundane Monday: A Higher Purpose

Perspective - Seeing Christ in Our World by Alex Wong - smaller size

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our blessings and trials are not about us, but about those around us seeing God’s activity in our lives. #SeeingDeep #DenisePass

Scripture:

Exodus 18:9

“Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.”

The car breaks down, home is foreclosed upon, miscarriage, diagnosed with multiple diseases, falsely arrested, hospitalization for pneumonia, a spouse betrays us. Poor us, right? Life’s ups and downs can leave any of us disillusioned, heart broken, in a foul mood or a bona fide well-deserved pity party. Or maybe not. For those who grab a hold of the grace of God are overcomers and are changed forever along with those around them.

What if our perspective on troubles was flipped “right side up” to recognize the hand of God at all times? Assuredly hardships are not something to be delighted in, but they teach us much about contentment and relying on our God, more than good times ever could. But more than that, the people around us get a front row seat and the opportunity to see God sustain us, encourage us and rescue us in evil times.

Jethro saw God’s hand in the life of his son-in-law, Moses. He was overjoyed, and this joy resulted in him worshiping God. Wow. To think that our response and God’s movement in our lives could serve as a catalyst for someone’s salvation and worship of God is humbling.

If we complain and blame, we lose our reward and perhaps the people watching us do, too. If we surrender, God is glorified, His fame spreads and victory is ours. Those troubles at the beginning of this blog? They were all just a few of what I have personally faced. They caused me to cry out to God, despite my need to confront my own lack of trust in Him for the suffering I faced.

Like Jacob, when we wrestle with God and try to understand, we end up transformed. Whether or not we ever fully comprehend, we inherently know our God is good and will use it all for good.

Lord, thank You for Your grace and for showing us the deeper purpose in all of life. Help us to glorify You in everything, for You are worthy!

Mundane Monday: Imitation Invitation

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Copying someone worthwhile is one of the most worthy investments we can make.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Corinthians 11:1

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”

Philippians 3:17

“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.”

1 Thessalonians 1:6

“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 4:16

“Therefore I urge you to imitate me.”

“Mom, he is copying me again!  He is eating the same thing I am!”  What a crime, right? Why is our flesh bugged when someone wants to do the same thing we do? Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery, but maybe to some people it is just being competitive.

Name brands and generic brands vie for the same consumer. The imitation brand might not be the same quality, but it serves the same purpose.

Doing the same thing over and over again is B-O-R-I-N-G, yet the consistency gives a stability and a peace.  We know what to expect. The disciplines of the Christian life are precious tools that help us to walk faithfully before God.

When Paul told the believers to imitate him, he was not talking about his style, preferences or food choices.  Each one of us is uniquely gifted from one another and we are not mean to be carbon copies.  Paul was talking about us following his passion and love for Christ and His service for the Kingdom of God.

Asking someone to emulate us is humbling.  Not one of us is perfect, but Paul knew that. He did not allow his weaknesses to disqualify him – he boasted in them, for then God received all the glory.

We are who we surround ourselves with. People can influence us and we can influence them.  Imitating excellence is one step closer to greatness, just as mindlessly following bad examples brings us down. We are either impacted by the culture around us or affecting our culture for Christ.

It might be easy to follow someone if they seem blessed, but following an example of suffering is another matter entirely. There Paul sat in chains, appealing to us to follow him. Seems crazy at first, until we see things beyond the surface.  Sometimes walking with Christ will bring persecution, but the treasures we gain in the midst are priceless.

When Paul was inviting us to imitate Him, He was inviting us to die. Sweet death that brings true living, though. To follow after and hunger after God is one of the hardest things we will do.  We have to resist the flesh and seek to do what is completely contrary to it. God help us to be mindful of who and what we are following – our decisions today may very well affect all of eternity.

Lord, help us to seek to be like You. When the world tries to lure us to be comfortable and apathetic, help us to never grow weary in well doing – for is due time we will reap a harvest.

Mundane Monday: Insistence on Persistence

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Pray for God to give you a God-sized vision, then work at it with all your heart.

Scripture of the Day:

Proverbs 21:5

“The plans of the diligent lead only to plenty, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”

Running on my treadmill this morning, I struggled to mark sentences that stood out to me in the book I was reading by Mark Batterson.  (Yeah, I read and run at the same time). “After all, you’ll never achieve the goals you don’t set.”  “It’s never too late to start”.

I live my life outside the comfort zone.  WAY outside my comfort zone.  It is in that place of desperation before God that I recognize anything and everything I do is solely by His grace. But I am humbled to see the goals that Mark Batterson set for himself.  Don’t get me wrong, I know we are not to compare, I just admire the tenacity and perseverence as well as the bodacious goals he has set.  Do I dare dream of such possibilities for me?

We should have dreams.  But having dreams is just the beginning to achieving them. Discipline on top of discipline and purposefully writing goals and working toward the completion of each item is paramount to achieving goals.  But I am often sidetracked by emergencies or life in general before I even begin to write my goals.

Reaching for our goals will mostly be made of boring moments in which we choose to work at the vision God has given, even though we do not yet see fruit.  Sometimes in the face of adversity, or failings, fears, even others trying to discourage us – we press on toward goals with a dual purpose: the glory of God and being faithful to steward what God has placed in our hearts.

Without goals, life loses its meaning.  If nothing else, may we never stop seeking to honor God with our lives and to dare to set goals that are beyond us.  One decision, one step toward our goals at a time.

Lord, help us to never grow weary of well doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest. Please help discouraged hearts to know that You will complete the work You have begun in each one.