The Naked Truth

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

If we play it safe, no one gets saved. If He played it safe, we would not have been saved.

Scripture of the Day:

John 7:3

“So Jesus’ brothers advised him, “Leave here and go to Judea so your disciples may see your miracles that you are performing. 4 For no one who seeks to make a reputation for himself does anything in secret. If you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.”

Provocative title, I know. So was the lavish demonstration of love shown by our God who came. Naked. To a people who would reject Him. Truth incarnate, the Word became flesh.

Why would He choose to reveal Himself in such a vulnerable way? He left Heaven and crossed every barrier to show Himself in such a raw, transparent way.

It’s tough to be transparent, much less to offer ourselves for others to potentially reject. When He was on the cusp of His ministry, He had to choose again to show Himself to the world. The world. Harsh, judgmental, sinful – why show Himself to an ungrateful people? To strangers?

The LORD asked me this question as I pondered how open I am supposed to be to the world – do I friend complete strangers on social media? What about enemies? Jesus did. He knew they were trying to kill Him and knew they spoke against Him. Still He went.

He gave Himself away, radically, dangerously – on a cross so that His people would be saved. How do we, too, radically demonstrate such a zeal for the lost to know this salvation?

The world does not want us to just tell them about Jesus. It wants – it needs – real people who share their real weaknesses of their flesh, and who demonstrate a radical love for their God and His people. But sometimes the rhythm of life itself or our fears keep us from the mission Christ started and asks us to finish.

We tend to create an environment of safety, impenetrable by those who would harm us. Christ chases such people. Safety is one of those things we need to be cognizant of in this crazy, sin-sick world, but safety can be an excuse that keeps us from the hurting. Sure, we need to walk in wisdom, but with so many people needing hope, do we cherish our comfort zone more than their souls? If we play it safe, no one gets saved. If He played it safe, we would not have been saved.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 10 – Wisdom/Guidance

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

God’s wisdom is never-ending and far surpasses basic knowledge.

Scripture of the Day:

James 1:5

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

A little late posting on thankfulness today. Busy day ending with a mixup at the hotel I was to stay at tonight. Already feeling drained, this was a moment I could have given into “the grumpies”.

But sitting in the lobby wondering where I was going to go when all of the area hotels were full became a moment of worship when I began to contemplate Joseph and Mary and the utter fatigue and stress they must have been feeling.

I prayed and asked God what I should do. I asked for His favor. He led me to call a couple of different hotel chains. It took a couple of calls and the last room in one hotel was mine. Grateful. God provides always. It might look a little different than we were anticipating, but His provision is always enough.

My heart is full of thankfulness that God is always ready to give us wisdom when we ask. I remember buying a set of encyclopedias for my oldest child and being told by the salesman that as a bonus I could have any three questions researched and answered. Wow. This was amazing to me. (I am a nerd, after all). I savored the note that promised knowledge at my fingertips when I would just ask…

I never asked. I wanted to save up my three questions (kind of like three wishes, lol), for something really important. To understand me, you would have to know that I absolutely love to learn and search for answers. This thirst for learning was behind my desire to home educate, too.

As God’s children, He promises to give us wisdom whenever we need it – generously and without finding fault. God’s wisdom is neverending and far surpasses basic knowledge. Unlike the promise of wisdom from the encyclopedia salesman, there is no limit, but we have an important role – we have to ask.

Lord, thank You for granting wisdom to us and opening our eyes so we could see our foolish ways. You are sovereign and all-knowing, our Abba Father who delights to teach His children. Help us to hunger after You and Your instruction.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 5: Root Repair – Jealousy

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

For real gratitude to take root, sometimes we need to purify the soil of our hearts first.

Scripture of the Day:

James 3:14-16

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfishness in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice.

Proverbs 27:4

“Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”

One more “cleaning house” principle in the caretaking of our roots before we get on to cultivating gratitude the remainder of this month. For real gratitude to take root, sometimes we need to purify the soil of our hearts first.

If you have ever been the recipient of jealousy, you will never want to be the one guilty of it yourself. Jealousy is essentially saying that we are not content with what God has provided. It is coveting what someone else has and sometimes takes on a brutal fashion of trying to take down the other person in an effort to get what we want. Yuck.

So how does jealousy prevent thankfulness? When we are absorbed in wanting something we cannot get or focusing on our lack of having something that someone else has, there is no place for gratitude. Jealousy is the antithesis of thankfulness; it is actually thanklessness and discontent with our status or situation in life.

We root out jealousy by endeavoring to create an atmosphere of humility. God has different plans for us all and we would never want to step outside of His sovereign will to strive to get what someone else has – He won’t bless it.

Examining the attitude of our Savior Who was King over all but chose to serve humanity with the laying down of His own life inspires us to do the same. Victory comes as we lay down our agendas, pride, striving – all at the feet of Jesus – and pick up gratitude that He died for our sins, instead.

There can be no jealousy that remains when we compare our perceived lack with Christ’s chosen path of sacrifice. Whatever we hoped to gain is now all loss as we bow at the cross in utter gratitude that He gave it all for us.

 

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 4: Root Repair – Forgiveness

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It’s ok to be hurt, it is just what we do with that hurt that matters.

Scripture of the Day:

Matthew 6:14-15

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Ever feel like you have a sign on your back that says, “attack”? Sometimes it seems we can be inundated with people who are angry with us or just plain don’t like us. Any thankfulness we have quickly dissipates while we begin to become self-focused and perhaps throw a pity party or two.

If we are not careful, the actions of others can lead us down a path of a complaining self-absorbed spirit. We are human, though, and have feelings. It’s ok to be hurt, it is just what we do with that hurt that matters.

When I consider that God has forgiven me all of my transgressions, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I cannot receive such forgiveness and be unforgiving, as well. Forgiveness opens up our hearts and enables us to replace the hurt with grace, instead.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 2: Root Repair – Ingratitude

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our perspective is altered in the presence of a Holy God.

Scripture of the Day:

Romans 1:21

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Looking at these roots is a little embarrassing if you know what I mean. I am not talking about the roots from my last highlight job, either. Ingratitude pops up at the least likely times, sometimes easily provoked.

Irritants from everyday life (remember yesterday’s discussion?) threaten to snuff out a spirit of thankfulness as we focus on the immediate instead of the context of the immediate within the whole framework of life.

So how do we root out ingratitude? The motivational statement, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” might offer temporary relief, but more than mantras and pep talks, perhaps examining what created the ingratitude in the first place might lead to fostering gratitude.

An attitude of entitlement quickly crushes an attitude of gratitude. Expectations can become demands if we are not careful. This is where genuine humility is a lifesaver. We brought nothing into the world and can take nothing out. All we have is God’s. With this in mind, now what do we expect?

We need to come to God for a heart change. Our perspective is altered in the presence of a Holy God. Frustration is transformed into delight and anger is turned into sheer gratitude that God allows anything good in our lives at all.

Our great God is generous and merciful. He has provided for us, placed His love on us while we were not seeking Him at all. He has delighted in us. He is, in fact, all we need in this life and He takes care of our practical needs, too.

Oh God, how grateful we are for Your rich grace in our lives! Why should we be allowed to know You? How did we come to discover Your salvation? Please forgive us when ingratitude creeps into our hearts and help us to have hearts full of gratitude.

Day 30: Hope Reinvented

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

God wants to take us to a higher place that far surpasses simply hoping for status quo.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Corinthians 13:13

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Romans 8:24-25

“But For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Well here we are. We’ve arrived. Well, not really. Reinvented Hope requires maintenance, but “hope”fully as we’ve examined the hope we have, we’ve exposed areas in our lives where our hope was in the wrong place and refocused our hope in the right place – Jesus alone.

We began this quest for Hope Reinvented with the understanding that to be human is to hope – to hope and believe in an ultimate good end. God uniquely made us with a craving for hope and something more than we see around us. This is not ingratitude, but a longing placed there by a sovereign God, who knew we needed to be people of Hope to live worthy lives.

God wants to take us to a higher place that far surpasses simply hoping for status quo, the avoidance of pain or even temporary success in this world. As we have walked through the maze of this life we have learned to navigate disillusionment and suffering by looking up over the walls of doubt that threaten to block our view of God’s hope.

Sometimes our troubles actually give birth to hope and help us to understand our hope was very different from what we thought we needed in the first place. As we walk through many troubled times that we never thought would be a part of our testimony, we learn to trust in our God and see that the sweetness of surrendering to His sovereignty is unparalleled with any other solution this world has to offer. Our solace in suffering is that our Savior willingly chose the road of suffering that we wanted to deny and is able to guide us on that path and give us victory in surrendering to His hope.

Hope Reinvented is not dependent on anything this world offers. The quest for this eternal hope causes us to lift our eyes to the hills and see where our hope comes from – God and His word.

Lord, thank You for being our hope. Help us to never forget the hope we have learned and to share this living hope with others, too.

 

Day 29: Hope Discovered

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Those who “catch” this Reinvented Hope are on the hunt for it.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalm 31:24

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”

Hebrews 10:23

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Psalm 130:5

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”

We are nearing the end of our journey exploring this new Hope Reinvented, which was found as we applied God’s precious word and promises through all the obstacles life has thrown at us.

Discovering this hope was not easy, but we can say that it was worth it, no matter what the cost – to gain this precious gift of a hope everlasting.

As we run this race and explore this life to see what our hope really is, we first have examined what it is not.

  • Reinvented hope is not in belongings or riches.
  • Reinvented hope is not in having a perfect life.
  • Reinvented hope is not in any person or thing.
  • Reinvented hope is not in any achievements I pursue or gain.
  • Reinvented hope is not in the avoidance of pain.
  • Reinvented hope is not in another man’s praise or acceptance.

Oddly enough, Reinvented hope is discovered when:

  • Rejection comes knocking on our door, causing us to run to our Father for lasting acceptance.
  • Illness comes, bringing suffering that humbles us and causes us to look for a hope beyond our pain.
  • Sorrow knocks on our door unexpectedly, jolting us into the reality that our hopes are no more.
  • When the pressures of this life build to an intense level – finances or relationships in turmoil – and cause us to find resolution.

It is in these desperate moments of life that we look up to our God and need something more. Aware that this life has not delivered what we had hoped, we come before God bankrupt with scarcely a hope at all. We battle through disillusionment and fight to finally obtain an authentic definition of what it means to walk side-by-side with our Creator and really place our hope and trust in Him.

I believe those who “catch” this hope are on the hunt for it. They don’t leave the race of this life, despite many discouraging “hope killers”. They are instead thrusting themselves forward with whatever strength they have left, and placing themselves in the mercies of God.

I am not much of a runner, but I run anyway. I have had to battle numerous autoimmune diseases and have many more days with pain than without. Pain has a way of making things feel impossible. Hope seems futile when just basic functioning is a challenge.

In the midst of some of my greatest pain, I have written love notes to my God that could not have been written had I not been brought to my knees. As I surrendered to the adjustments I had to make to be able to still be productive, a funny thing happened. I was surprised by gratitude and discovered a hope that was greater than when I had been well and I worshiped God in a way I had not before.

I still have to guard my health, but in His mercy God has placed many of my autoimmune diseases underneath my feet in remission. What a good God. But the lessons learned are even more precious to me than the healing He has brought. I will praise my God whether I am well or not, for in all of it, He is my hope and He will use it all for my good and His glory.

When we discover this hope, we need to be like the Psalmist and hold onto this Hope Reinvented with all our being. The storms of life ebb and flow, but God’s hope is constant throughout. As we wait for our ultimate redemption, His hope and His word are our strength and enablement to live a worthy life full of hope for His glory.

Oh God, I am overcome by Your goodness! Thank You for revealing this awesome hope we have in You! Help us to rely on You and not anything You created. Open our eyes when we are tempted to look to anything else other than You for our salvation.

I have a new song called, “You Are Worthy” coming out on November 4th, currently available on my ministry website. This song epitomizes to me a path to find joy. As we focus on God’s worth and character, our problems become smaller, we discover lasting hope and joy and are lost in worship of Him.

 

Day 25: The Promise of Hope

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Keep it simple like Abe. Hope in God alone.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 71:14

“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”

“The LORD took him outside and said, ‘Gaze into the sky and count the stars–if you are able to count them!’ Then he said to him, ‘So will your descendants be.'”

What a picture of our Father, delighting in revealing the hope He had for Abraham. In that moment, standing next to the Creator of all that surrounded Him, Abe must have been overwhelmed at such a statement. His descendants would be  more than he could count? He wanted to hope that he would have descendants, did he dare to?

Barren and childless, Abraham believed God and the hope He promised and it was reconciled to Him as righteousness. He did not get caught up in his circumstances or the very raw reality that his wife and he were old, beyond the years of procreation and, well, childless. Abraham was 75 years old when God first called him to leave his country. He was 90 when God renewed His promise to him. It would be another ten years later, at age 100, that Abraham and Sarah finally had their son.

25 years. In our instant society, hope would be all but dysfunctional and destroyed if we were told a promise and God took 25 years to have it come true. We are prone to doubt, but there is such an amazing example in Abraham’s simple belief. “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

When we seek just to find hope, we miss out on the relationship with God. When we seek God, we find Him and discover a hope unending.

The promise in a Reinvented Hope is that the One Who made the promise is always faithful to keep every single promise He has ever made. God cannot fail in delivering on the hope He offers. It might take a little while for the promises to unfold, but the One Who spoke them rules over everything and surely will bring it about. Keep it simple like Abe. Hope in God alone.

The hope of wanting things for ourselves or this earth cannot compare with a hope in Christ that ultimately never will disappoint. Earthly hopes fade away. But God’s hope is built on His promises  – it simply is and always has been.

Lord, Your promises are sure. You are faithful and true! Thank You that we are people of hope and of Your promise.

Day 24: Superficial Hope

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We have to let go of our hope to find it.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Corinthians 15:19

“If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

Hope is vain if it is in the wrong place. Worse yet, pretending to hope but inwardly doubting really can leave us bewildered and disillusioned.

Hope is a scary thing. We have to let go of our hope to find it. Sounds ironic, I know. But the hope we cultivated in the natural cannot compare with the new hope we have found which is not based on human principles.

We cannot walk on the fence of pretending to have this new Reinvented Hope while trying to maintain our former hope. Often times people remain hopeless because they don’t dare to hope again due to the fear of their hopes getting crushed.

But this new Reinvented Hope cannot be crushed – it is eternal. It is not based on anything temporary or of this world, but in Christ alone. It is not superficial, but supernatural.

Rising above the fear of unfulfilled hopes, this new Reinvented Hope cannot be manufactured or faked – but it can be formed in the deep chasms of life in the word of God.

On the horizons of our lives, there is a hope ahead that never fades, discovered in the pages of Scripture and in the surrender of our hearts.

This worship song from Jeremy Camp called, “There Will Be a Day” says it well. He is the hope we long for!

Lord, thank You for showing me this new hope in You. Through all of the grief process when I was dismayed that my hope could never look the same, You showed me I never would want it to. Your hope is enough for me.

Day 21: Hope’s Debtor: Gratitude & Humility

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

This new reinvented hope longs to please God, not self.

Scripture of the Day:

Romans 5:3-4

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

This new reinvented hope is not formed without some friends – gratitude and humility. The beauty in the struggles of life is that they can work precious character into our hearts, if we let them.

Yielding requires trusting God in the face of suffering as well as in times of blessing. Gratitude is not a normal response in heartbreaking circumstances. In the fires of affliction, it is carefully molded through perseverance and a heart and mind change initiated by the Spirit of the living God.

Instead of having the attitude that we deserve what we want, we cry out and ask God to help us “put on” an attitude of gratitude. Why did we think we deserved our way in the first place? The root of our expectations often exists in a self-centered hope. But this new reinvented hope – it longs to please God, not self. Only God can achieve that in man’s heart.

Gratitude can’t be mimicked. Anyone can be thankful in the moment, but an abiding gratitude stems from knowing God and having confidence that nothing ever transpires in our lives without His perfect good will. We can be truly grateful in sorrows because we know God wins in the end. Our hope is fixed on this truth and the fact that every jot and tittle, every moment of our lives – He is redeeming.

Humility cannot be manufactured by man, either. It comes in when we recognize, like Job, that when we question God, we truly do not understand Him or His ways. How can the one who is made know the mind of the Creator? And yet He draws us near to know Him.

Humility is a death to our flesh that wants to reign. There is no greater example of humility than seeing our great Holy God choosing to bear our sins and suffer our punishment. And He did it with joy. Gratitude that souls could be won.

If we have the mindset of Christ, our trials become our triumphs and we see them through the scope of eternity. No more do we regret suffering. Instead we see ourselves as co-laborers with Christ and cry out for Him to use it to save just one.

Mankind does not want to take the blame for anyone else’s actions. Our pride wells up and demands justice. Christ chose to be mistreated in the most extravagant demonstration of humble love ever seen.

Lord, help us to have Your understanding and to seek to honor You in every aspect of our lives. It is for Your glory alone that we live!