Day 6: Revelation in the Darkness – Who Was the Thief?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

“In all the strife of life, no one can steal our hope except ourselves.”

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 119:116

“Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.”

Hope is a necessary ingredient to life. Without it, we perish. The ultimate definition of hope, the daughter of faith, is trusting that God said He will do what He said He would. But sometimes we can feel that is for everyone else except ourselves.

Holding onto hope can take all we’ve got sometimes. So many things in this fallen world threaten hope’s survival. Maybe we are in the desert, seemingly with no end in sight and just find it too difficult to dare to hope. Maybe we are on the other side of a significant trial but are afraid to hope. Circumstances, discouragement and fear can surely hold us back from hope, but they are birthed in an environment all our own.

It might help to know where we stand, to set expectations aright. We are hated by an enemy who delights to steal our joy and hope, because he is angry that He can never take away our salvation. He will settle for wrecking our witness or get us sidetracked with trivial matters, but he really wants to discourage us from having hope at all. If he achieves this goal, God’s people go through life living defeated lives, without hope and ineffective to share God’s hope with others because our own hope has been extinguished.

Added to our enemy’s activity of destroying hope in us is his influence on others who are used, sometimes unknowingly – to try and dash our hopes, too. Who would want to do that, right? But we do it all the time when we try to discourage a brother or sister in the work of the LORD in their lives.

Naivety gone, we recognize we are surrounded by enemies, but we might not readily see the enemy within. Sounds dramatic, I know. But what we do with the pressures in this life that try to snuff out hope is on us. It is not easy to stand up to all of the attacks on maintaining our hope in God, but it is a fight God can help us to wage and win.

So, who’s the Thief? Who is it that ultimately steals our hope?

Satan, Satan working through people, circumstances – they contribute to our downfall, but there is another thief we do not recognize, because wait for it – it is ourselves. Why would we bear the blame – why would we ever want to harm ourselves or take away our hope?

Sure, the instigator was likely from another source, but what we do with the “hope killer” is our choice alone. We must consider where our hope is placed. Is it in others, ourselves or in the only One who is capable of making and keeping promises?

Here are some “Hope Builders” that have greatly helped me to hold onto hope:

Where our hope is placed. When hope is in Christ alone, we have a consistent source that does not sway with man’s fickle opinion or momentary circumstances. Reinvented hope is not dependent on a temporary goal or the success of achieving that goal – it is fixed on the author of hope itself.

Recognizing the battle and its source. People’s opinions are often formed in jealousy. Jealousy is hatred. Discouragement, gossip and negativity only come from one place – they are of the devil. His end is certain. Dismiss attacks from people or the devil as being evil and having a just end.  God already waged war against the enemy of our souls – satan is defeated and our hope is secure.

Pressing in and seeking God’s promises. Reality hits us square in the eye and sometimes it can be LOUD. We don’t have to let life’s troubles confuse us, even though they are convincing that hope seems like a futile effort. We have to go against our feelings and place our hope firmly in the hands of God’s word. It is hard work keeping the flames of hope alive, but God’s promises fuel that hope.

Crying out to God. We need help in this quest for this hope from another world. It is found only in relationship with Christ. Crying out for help and perspective helps us to overcome and triumph over hopelessness or false hope that always disappoints. Instead of adopting the world’s hope, we begin to see formed this new Reinvented Hope as we gain God’s view instead of our own.

Focusing on God and His Word, not the hope killers around us. This one is a tough one when our hope killers are not just in our mind, but flesh around us, focused on tearing us down. When we listen to the voices all around us instead of to the voice of the Holy Spirit, we easily succumb to the strategy of the enemy.

In all the strife of life, no one can steal our hope except ourselves. We have to get up and fight and resist pouring over the negativity of other people or our own self-doubt and insecurity. A great assurance for this soul is that nothing in this world can take away our hope – it is impossible, for our hope is certain. We might feel like hope is gone, but it never is for those whose hope is in God. Picking up the pieces of our shattered hope, we form it into a new hope that never disappoints.

In Christ Alone is a worship song that reminds us where our hope needs to be placed. Worship Him, our God of Reinvented Hope, a hope given to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Hope is alive!

Lord, thank You for keeping our hope secure in You. Help us to hold on to Your promises firmly.

Mundane Monday: Don’t give up!

www.denisepass.com (3)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Fanning into flame the gifts of God might just start out as a sparkler, but God can do a lot more with a sparkler that is lit than one that isn’t.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Timothy 1:6-7

“Because of this I remind you to rekindle God’s gift that you possess through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

It’s Monday again, and the prospects of all that needs doing around here are booming. But I need to be still before Him, first. Reading this familiar passage this morning is such a perfect start to another Monday.

We are a people who need new beginnings. We make a mess of things and long for a fresh start. Each day we get one, for God’s mercies are new each and every day. But we also get a new beginning to every week, every month, every year, and so on.

What good news this is – we don’t have to be stuck in a rut. I can hear someone saying, “Yeah, but nothing ever changes. It is so hard to go against all the challenges against me”. Yes, but not impossible. Don’t give up.

Sure, there will be hurdles – some seemingly insurmountable, but if there were no effort, the accomplishment of our goals would not be as satisfying. Sometimes even Christians will come against our efforts. The disciples were guilty of this, too, when they questioned the motives of other believers who were also baptizing new believers. May God help us to all spur one another on just like Paul did to Timothy. We are all on the same team – some leaders, some followers – all important – all needed.

Sometimes we just need a reminder – of what God has done in us, what He has placed in us. But most importantly, we need to recall Who will complete the work He began in us. This supernatural component to our calling takes the pressure off of us to think that we have to produce the results. Don’t give up.

Faithfully stewarding our talents means we need to keep pressing toward our goals even when it seems we are not making progress. In Christ, no effort is wasted, even if the results aren’t what we had hoped for … don’t give up.

Timothy needed some encouragement and reminding, too. It might have been someone calling out a gifting in us, or it might have been a gentle whisper from God, placing a vision on our hearts. Either way, we must be faithful to the calling on our lives, making the most of every opportunity – for we never know which investment will produce the best results for God’s kingdom. Don’t give up.

Paul did not just encourage Timothy to work at the gift of God placed within Him – He also told him not to fear. Fear of failure, fear of man – so many fears that can limit and plague us, but God. It is in trusting God with the results of all our labor in the LORD that we are free to work at our gifts, knowing He is pleased and will do with our offering what He wills.

Don’t give up. Fanning into flame the gifts of God might just start out as a sparkler, but God can do a lot more with a sparkler that is lit than one that isn’t.

Lord, thank You for the talents you have given, that we might serve You and make You known. Help us to not grow weary in well doing. Be glorified in us, LORD!

 

Mundane Monday: Margin of Possibility

It is in pausing and being still that we are empowered to make an impact that ripples throughout eternity.

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in pausing and being still that we are empowered to make an impact that ripples throughout eternity.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 127:2

“It is vain for you to rise early, come home late, and work so hard for your food. Yes, he can provide for those whom he loves even when they sleep.”

Running on the treadmill this morning I couldn’t help but feel somewhat like a hamster on a wheel. Another Monday, another day full of routine and responsibilities. Despite waking up with a headache, in an effort to be disciplined to reach my goals, on the treadmill I go. After that, I meant to throw some pinto beans and sausage in the crockpot this morning to feel especially accomplished to have exercised, showered and made dinner all by 8:00am, but life happens.

One child lost their cell phone, another child’s car was on empty, so on a day full of school orientations in addition to my normal full-time job, I need to flex and be creative, which is why I started work earlier today and am out the door early to accomplish the new challenges of the day, including writing this blog while my teenager with a learner’s permit is driving me to follow the child whose car is on empty on our way to Verizon. I meant that to be a run on sentence for effect. And Verizon is not open this early. Great – plan B or C, whichever plan we are on now. But I digress. Oh, wait – today’s blog is about creating margins in our life. Ha.

If I have a minute, or any amount of time, I will fill it up – Lord willing with useful endeavors, but I have often been told that I do too much. Guilty. But life is so short and I want to make the most of it. So where does margin come into this lifestyle I have created, which includes 5 children, a wonderful husband, leading worship, speaking at conferences, writing a book, writing a new song and working as an executive assistant? Good question. Very creatively is the answer.

It starts with rising early. I cannot accomplish all the LORD has placed upon my heart if I am not up before my kids, and one child in particular is awake before the sun rises. I tell him to occupy himself reading or building legos while I seek the face of God. Oh wait, that should have been point #1. God first. Am I perfect in that goal of placing God first? No, but somewhere in my day I have got to get into His word and my personal preference is to use a “Bible in a Year” reading plan. Here is a link to a website where you can choose a plan that works for you. Do I complete this perfectly every year? No, but I have learned to give myself grace and to press on year after year.

Discipleship. With a full life, discipleship for myself and my children, as well as time for my husband has to be intentional. These are the “big rocks” of life. My husband truly helps in this goal of closeness with date nights almost every week and setting aside time every year to go away together. Work will always be there, people won’t.

Discipling my children doesn’t look as neat and tidy as when my kids were little, when almost every morning we would rise and do a bible curriculum together, but they are older now and have responsibilities of their own. Creating opportunities to have one-on-one time is the challenge; it might be while driving in a car, or maybe just talking late at night, or finding a spot in the house to have a private conversation. Purposeful dates with kids is also one way this is achieved. Discipling for myself is a little harder to come by. This is where I mentor myself with books and studies – but when?

Multi-tasking. While on my treadmill, I have my reading glasses on, reading an inspirational study or a book on ministry, highlighting key phrases. An iPad is one of my favorites to use while on the treadmill, because it is easiest to highlight while literally, “on the go”. Another place where I multi-task is in the car. Since I have teens, I have built-in chauffeurs. It might make me a little sick to my stomach temporarily, but I can usually get something accomplished, whether it is doctor’s appointments, planning, working on my laptop, etc. Of course sometimes I need to be sensitive that it also might be time just to listen to loved ones.

Rest. My secret weapon is Melatonin gummies to help me get a good night’s rest. This is imperative for me to have strength and energy for the coming challenges of the day. It also helps with autoimmune diseases and might even curb headaches. The verse for today convicts my soul and reminds me that I am not invincible. Acquiescing to a schedule and getting proper rest are fundamental. This is still an area I am challenged in, but setting rest as a priority helps me achieve my goals.

Goals. I can have great ambitions and plans, but if they do not have deadlines, it will not get done. My flesh is a great obstacle in this regard, but as Paul said, I press on! In the past this has included registering for races which was an impetus to make me train. But goals are not enough alone. The motivation for the goals is essential. But where does that come from?

Attitude. My attitude needs adjustment that is only found in the word of God. This is the most important fuel for my heart. But all sorts of problems try to dismantle the joy and positive attitude that is formed by God’s word. What then? I can find motivation in courses, groups, studies or courses. Michael Hyatt’s course Best Year Ever was a real encouragement to me. But sometimes we need somebody to come alongside us.

Accountability. This one is tougher to find, but within our own household we can find someone who has a vested interest in our success. Small groups at church are another great option, or if we have to go it alone, planning tools can help to keep us on track.

Planning. Speaking of planning, building in time for planning is essential. Evernote really helps me in this regard, but then so does utilizing an old fashioned planner like Amy Knapp’s that I write all of my children’s work schedules and daily reminders for me in. But sometimes you just need to come apart or you will come apart. This past weekend was such a time for me, but I confess it was not planned.

Saturday was a beautiful day. No obligations other than preparing for worship leading and making meals for the family, who were all out of the house working. I basked in the presence of God and spent most of the day planning. This was a rare moment for this girl and I cherished every moment of it.

Don’t get me wrong – I am also the girl who wants to be around my family 24/7, but in this moment God created a space for me to think and ponder for an entire day. (A dangerous thing, I know). This time served as a catalyst that inspired a lot of changes to how I approach the Seeing Deep ministry going forward. Exciting stuff!

Examination. So in my quest to be effectively used by God and maximize the time God has given me, I learned again this past weekend that I need to take one day a month to set aside to pray and plan, in addition to my daily quiet time.

It also might mean examining my life to see where precious time is wasted and asking the LORD for wisdom with what needs to be pruned and what needs to be added. This article How Americans Spend Their Time was at once enlightening and a little sobering in that it conveyed both an opportunity to be introspective and aware of how we are numbering our days, as well as hopefully an encouragement about how some of our time is well spent.

I long to be faithful and passionately pass on this faith in Jesus that has arrested my soul. Ultimately we are all accountable to the LORD for how we used this evaporating commodity called time. But to be more effective, ministry, family goals and work take planning. It is in the margins of life that our souls are replenished and refocused to the mission God has called us to. It is in pausing and being still that we are empowered to make an impact that ripples throughout eternity.

Lord, help us to number our days aright that we might gain a heart of wisdom. Help us to honor You above all else in these lives You have given.

Mundane Monday: Freedom in Yielding

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 18:4-6

“Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit. 5 Then the LORD said to me, 6 I the LORD, say: “O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.”

My youngest child still loves to play with clay. The delight shown on his face by a new creation made according to his specifications is felt by those around him. The clay responds to his touch and yields to the form the creator is making. If it were made of another material that was less pliable, it could not do so.

So, too, when we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be. But when we fight His working in our lives, we do not rise to our God-given potential.

There are many ways a lump of clay can resist the work of God. We might look the part on the outside, but on the inside we resent the work being done. Instead of yielding, we can inwardly seethe and doubt God’s goodness when we would rather be left alone.

Or perhaps we can compare ourselves to other vessels and wonder why their process of being shaped seems easier. We wonder what the purpose is in it, anyway. It might seem mundane or perhaps cruel, this shaping of our wills in which our flesh has to die so our spirit is made alive.

But when we resist the shaping of our lives because it hurts, we do not recognize that we are in fact harming ourselves. Protecting ourselves from God’s work on our hearts is only impeding the progress He is making. The tools might seem crude or unnecessary, but our loving God sees the complete design. His character is revealed in the fruit of the work He is doing, and His grace is sufficient to enable us during the process.

There is hope in the knowledge that God’s work is always redemptive and for our good. It is in fact in yielding that we taste of the freedom of being a child of God. Free from the shackles of sin, at peace and free to be what He intended in the first place.

The joy my son has in displaying his creation reminds me of the joy of the Father, delighting in His children. He is glorified when we surrender our lives to Him and let Him work in us. Patient perseverance develops us, changing us from the inside out. The end of His labor is a beauty to behold – forever changed into His image, made to be more like Him!

Lord, help us to trust Your working in our lives and to yield to Your purposes, even when they do not make sense to us.

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Denise Pass  •  www.seeingdeep.com  •  www.denisepass.com

Author | Worship Leader | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

Fickle Friday: Endless Pursuit

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Even though our work on earth is temporal, that which is done in the spirit lasts forever.

Scripture of the day:

2 Corinthians 1:17

“Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or what I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, so that with me there will be yes, yes and no, no at the same time?”

We have a lot of goals that we pursue, but any purpose that is attempted in the flesh will ultimately fail – even if it appears to be successful according to the world’s standards.

Our desires change and fluctuate moment by moment. That’s just our nature. As Solomon questioned all the activity underneath the sun, he wondered what really mattered. Even though our work on earth is temporal, that which is done in the spirit lasts forever.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results, I think we would all qualify.  So many resolutions offered your after year with few ultimately accomplished.

Wow. I really sound like a downer. We certainly never should cease trying to be more like Christ and working toward goals that he puts on our hearts.  It is the vain pursuit of success apart from His leading that is a futile effort, even if we achieve our objective.

Sometimes when God calls us to do something, it will take a lot of effort and tenacity. But when we know that He has placed a vision on our heart, we cannot deviate or vacillate from it.

Our double-minded, fickle nature makes it a challenge to discern between pursuits that don’t matter and ones we were destined for.  But in our weakness he is strong.  He knows we are flesh and His grace is greater.

Lord, help us to know your will for this life and to be faithful to that calling all for your glory.

Denise Pass | Seeing Deep

 

Mundane Monday: Our “Identifying” God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our God is a Compassionate God. The God Who saves us is also the One Who hurts when we hurt, too.

Scripture of the Day:

Isaiah 63:9

“Through all that they suffered, he suffered too. The messenger sent from his very presence delivered them. In his love and mercy he protected them; he lifted them up and carried them through ancient times.”

Suffering is a bummer. Our flesh does not want an ounce of it and when it comes our way, complaining can often rise within our spirit as well as disillusionment or discouragement. Our tendency can be to judge the character of God when uncomfortable or painful circumstances are allowed into our lives. That is until we consider that He chose His suffering. Blaming God – the Creator of the universe – Who willingly offered His life in place of mine kind of brings my trials into perspective.

Our sorrows are not minimized – they are understood. In the context of a fallen world, we can have hope because even though for a little while we may suffer, our God gives us grace when we cry out and He has overcome the world.

This has been one of the biggest revelations for me in my walk with God – that the very suffering I despise He joyfully endured – for me. When I was broken and wondered why God would allow me and my children to hurt so much, it was in that moment that I wept because I was thinking of my comfort and not thinking of God and His glory.

Our culture daily churns out the message of the need for people to be able to “identify” with whatever it is they think will make them happy. Sad thing is, being fake and pretending you are something you are not will never help someone feel complete on the inside.

Jesus chose to “identify” with sinful mankind. He chose to die, be rejected, spat upon, and judged by His beloved Father even though He was completely innocent. Wow. I have to pause and worship Him here.

What a gracious and loving God. Loving and merciful, noticing our pain and giving us strength in the midst of trials. Setting an example of how to walk through our troubles. He is not a God far off, but a God nearby Who is able to have compassion by what He suffered.

Thank You, Lord, for choosing to be counted among us, even though You were God. You are worthy, oh God. Thank You for opening our eyes to see how wonderful Your salvation is.

Freedom Friday: Gospel Across Cultures

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The hand of God is moving the people of this world so that they may hear of His great love.

Scripture of the Day:

Exodus 23:32-33

“You must make no covenant with them or with their gods. 33 They must not live in your land, lest they make you sin against me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

The nations have been brought to our doorstep – the beautiful melting pot of the United States. Nations that did not have the same freedoms in their own homeland can now have access to the freedom in our land – for such time as this.

The tremendous blessings of having such a diverse culture are many, but there are also many dangers. Primary among the flaws of such a culture is the possibility of adopting false gods. God sought to protect Israel from such idolatry and in our desire to accept all people, we must guard our hearts from the same danger to our faith.

We are called to love all people, yet not embrace their gods. They have been brought to our home and we have an opportunity like no other time in history to reach these people with the love of Christ. People who could not formerly hear the good news in their country are now free to do so. People who could not share the Gospel in their culture now can.

What a sovereign God who would use all circumstances in our times to bring people to Himself. May we be faithful to spread the freedom we have found in Christ to all who come to our land. The fields are ripe.

Lord, You are amazing! Thank You for drawing people near to You. Help us to be Your hands and feet, propagating the Gospel to anyone who has ears to hear.

 

 

Truthful Tuesday: The Relic’s Power

relic or good luck charm

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Trusting in religion or religious relics are not a substitute for a vibrant relationship with God. If we want God to go with us, we have to go with God.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Samuel 4:3

“When the army came back to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why did the LORD let us be defeated today by the Philistines? Let’s take with us the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh. When it is with us, it will save us from the hand of our enemies.”

Back in middle school I went through a very challenging time.  Sexual abuse, multiple divorces and moves rocked my home and I was looking for answers. Some friends introduced me to the occult, including games like “bloody Mary” and levitation games while another gave me a picture of a European-looking Jesus in a frame.

I began to experience supernatural things that were not Holy and realized I was getting into trouble. I did not know God, but I wanted to. As I grasped the picture of Jesus, I asked Him to protect me.  Somehow I felt safer with the picture, but looking back now I know the picture did not do anything – it was a tender heart crying out to God that made the difference.

It makes me sad when I see people clutching icons or relics thinking that they bring life or comfort. They can serve as a symbol reminding us of God, but they can also become an obstacle and idolatry.  They cannot save.  Only God can.

The Israelites were befuddled that the LORD had allowed them to fail. They were on the right “team”.  How could God forsake them?  Or was it the other way around?

The slow creep to religiosity is barely perceivable, but it happens, nonetheless. Slowly we begin to get comfortable and instead of crying out we just expect God to favor us because we are the King’s kids. Trouble is, the kids begin to compromise and forget that they need to be under His Lordship to receive the promised blessings.

Instead of crying out to God, the Israelites thought the ark could save them. The presence of the LORD was there, and they wanted that insurance. They reduced the presence of God to a good luck charm. The end result was their devastation. God cannot be manipulated and our disobedience does not require Him to still “pull through” for us. In His mercy, He will restore and forgive, but it is after we have learned what we needed to from our mistakes. As a loving Father, He could do nothing less.

Though sorrow may last for a night, joy will come in the morning. If we can somehow get into our hearts that the amazing unconditional love of God longs to comfort us, longs for us to be in relationship with Him. Substitutes just will not satisfy. Though part of His care is allowing us to learn from our errors, the redemptive plan of God is the other side.  He will hear and answer when we cry out and He beautifully weaves together every aspect of our lives with Himself.

God wants to save us, but He longingly draws us to Himself; not a religion, not a picture or a statue – just Himself – and that is all we need.

Lord, thank You for Your mercy in opening my eyes to understand my sinful condition and need of You.  How can it be? Please help us to run to You and no one or nothing on this earth.  

#SeeingDeep #DenisePassMusic

Truthful Tuesday: Our Moral Compass

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Inspirational thought of the day:

Only God determines what is truly right.

Scripture of the day:

Judges 17:5

“In those days Israel had no king.  Each man did what was considered to be right.”

A ship follows the lead of a small instrument no bigger than a stopwatch and the captain of the ship trusts that this small tool called a compass is not leading them astray.

The Creator of this world has left us with a compass, as well.  Not only an instruction manual called the Bible, but the Holy Spirit to influence us toward righteousness.

I myself am directionally challenged and rely on a GPS to point me the right direction.  I will often trust the GPS above my own instinct, because I know the rate of accuracy of the GPS is far greater than mine.

But sometimes it gets confusing when there are multiple compasses and voices crying out, trying to persuade us that their voice is the right one.  Folly cries out but so does wisdom.

Humanism has seeped into every aspect of our culture to the point where it seems odd to not just do what we feel like doing.  That’s because the flesh is very persuasive.  But if our basis for our decisions is founded primarily upon our feelings, we can be led far away from God’s best.

If the heart is deceitful and every inclination of our heart is wicked in God’s sight, how are we then to live?  What compass do we use to make decisions and how can we make our stubborn wills follow God’s way?

In our pride, we tend to think we are right.  All arguments emanate from this reality.  Authority is a means by which god establishes order.  Without it, we drift.  With it, we often rebel, anyway. Using a compass takes humility and trust.

There is hope for those Who would call on the Name of God and seek the counsel of His word.   The Holy Spirit is able to guide us and we are able to exercise our free will to walk in integrity or to walk after the flesh and do whatever we want.

Ironically, what we want is often counter to God’s ways and as much as we think it pleases us, it leads to our ultimate ruin.  The motivation to do things our way would change if we could think the matter all the way through and choose according to God’s law.

Praise God that He has absolute truth in this world of relativity.

God has not left us without instruction nor does He let us remain in confusion if we seek Him sincerely. When we yield our plans to God and filter our desires through God’s word, we find peace.  Gently He leads us like an inner compass to do His will and not our own.

Lord, help us to surrender all to You.  Your will be done.  Your ways are best.  Grant us wisdom to recognize when our flesh is pulling us away from what really matters – living solely for You, Jesus, and according to Your Word.

Mundane Monday: Get Up and Fight!

Curve Ball

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The curve balls in this life weren’t meant to defeat us, but to challenge us to rise and play ball.

Scripture:

2 Corinthians 10:4

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

I love baseball.  There was nothing like watching my son play and play hard.  But the imminent fear of a fly ball whacking you in the face was always looming in the corner of the minds of the spectators.

I have witnessed such incidences many times.  One woman was knocked unconscious and taken away by an ambulance, some ball players themselves were carried off the field and still other spectators foamed at the mouth for the opportunity to lunge and catch the ball . . . all pressing on, for the love of the game.

This past week I sat in the hospital for three days while my son had surgery for a broken femur – not from a baseball game, but from a slow bicycle ride.  His roommate, however, had several crushed bones in his face from a baseball.  My darling husband, too, also has a lump on his face from the time he took a shot from the ball himself.

Sometimes life throws you crazy curve balls.  The question is, do we pick up the ball dealt to us and play or let ourselves get socked by the balls and defeated when they come our way?  After sizing up the speed of a ball, my preference would likely be to dodge a fast ball if I do not think I have the ability to catch it.

I well remember pitching to my two older brothers who could whack the tape ball we played with to a lightning speed in no time.  Those lessons coached me well.  Stay alert!

But sometimes you do not have time to dodge a ball nor the skill.  Ugh, while I mention the words “dodge” and “ball” in the same sentence, another vivid memory appears in my mind as the last chosen on a team at school and the first one smacked with those balls. Oh, what fun, right?

Back to my sweet son.  We did not expect a casual bike ride to turn into three medical facilities, surgery and great pain.  It is still stupefying to consider how it happened.  But it did.  In the moment, I noticed I did not respond as I had before when traumatic times occurred.  There was a peace.  Unexplainable.  Sadness gripping my heart for my son, but a calm, nonetheless.

God gave a presence of mind to consider that where we were was temporary.  It was also allowed by Him and a mission.

Would we waste the brief opportunities that came our way with the people we would meet, or would we share Christ, our biggest blessing, our very life, to those around us?  One shot to handle the ball and to bring God glory.

My son is growing in his faith and it was absolutely precious to see Him have to depend on God and to grow in His strength and faith in Jesus.  As we read Scripture aloud and prayed in that hospital room, God did His part.  The hardest thing, though, was for my son to face His enemy – the pain he was in.  The only way to recovery was to walk through the pain and to make a choice to take the ball, the circumstances dealt to him, and push through. He had to choose to face his pain and get up and fight.

You see, our enemy throws sucker punches and sometimes we want to give up.  Dizzy and lying on the ground, it seems impossible to get up and fight.  But the only way to victory is to accept what happened and to fight.  Not with the weapons of this world.  It might be on our knees, reading His word or it might mean doing really hard things, but in the place of pain we have a Savior walking with us through it all, and it makes all the difference in the world.

Sometimes all you can do is hang onto Jesus’ robe and cry out.  That’s ok.  That is the best place to be, actually.  It can be easy to grow discouraged when challenges rise in our lives, in particular multiple balls coming our direction at the same time. We don’t expect them nor appreciate them often in the moment. Unless . . . we view them as an adventure and view ourselves as being in the hands of a loving sovereign God Who is sending us on a mission.  Will we accept?

Lord, help us to see You in all of life.  Help us to seek You as our coach in every circumstance and to not grow weary in well doing.