Archive - August 2015

1
Thanks for Everything
2
Children of Light
3
Give and Take
4
Benefit of Others
5
Motives of the Heart
6
Built Up
7
True Feelings
8
Immeasurably More
9
Expect the Process

Thanks for Everything

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

What stood out to me…
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The more time I spend in God’s Word, and in prayer, the more I am understanding about God’s character. God is solidifying inside me how much I can trust in His goodness, faithfulness, and unyielding love.

 

The flipside of the coin is, the more time I spend  in His Word, the more I realize there are questions I will never be able to answer.

 

– If God loves everyone so much, why are there people still dying of starvation?

– If God has such a strong heart for children, why are there so many parents waking up today to hear their child has to battle cancer?

-If God loves me so much, why would He not choose to take this situation away from me?

 

In the midst of tough situations and everything going on in the world, Paul’s challenge in Ephesians 5:20 has me pause:

 

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything,

 

“Father, you couldn’t possibly mean everything.

How could thankfulness be part of the response to the horrible plight of so many people?”

 

As Paul is penning the letter to the believers in Ephesus, it is important to remember he is likely in prison. Not a modern-day, American prison; He likely was on a dirt floor, with little to no clothing, no climate control and daily beatings from the guards.

 

Yet he still says always give thanks because of Jesus.

 

Our six year old Addison was just diagnosed this past week with Celiac Disease. This momma’s heart is sad for all the changes Addison (and our family) will endure. As an adult, I can handle the fact we won’t be getting our favorite Stan’s Donuts every birthday and first day of school. But my kids, they are disheartened at the loss of a tradition.

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As the parent, I know we will make new traditions.  We will make special breakfasts for all those occasions or find a specialty bakery to do something for us. I am already anticipating my first trip to the specialty shop and the excitement on Addison’s face when she sees all of the treats inside the bakery case.

 

In the middle of difficult situations, it is important to realize God didn’t give us our disappointment and He is even sad too.  We can remember how much He loves us.  He wants us to be vulnerable and cast our burdens, sadness, anger upon Him and then thank Him for His faithfulness to not forsake us.

 

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God’s Word is without a single blemish. The Lord doesn’t make mistakes and there isn’t a clause excluding certain parts based on our circumstances.

 

Because of Jesus, we get to tell Him the truth about how we feel. We get to ask for freedom from the hurt and then rest in the assurance God is anticipating the good things He wants to give us on the other side of the glass.

 

For Thursday, September 3, read Ephesians 5:21-33

Children of Light

I often look at a situation and think, “How would someone ever handle that without hope in Jesus?”  Not only is it important for me to be able to look to Jesus in my daily life, it is critical to have people surrounding us to point us toward Him.  I want to see all His promises for me fulfilled, but when the pursuit gets tough, sometimes I need someone to hold my hand and remind me what His promises are.  The light of Jesus in Kristan has pushed me these last few years to run after Bigger for my life.  If you haven’t subscribed to her blog or bought her book, Bigger, I would encourage you to do it today.

Ephesians‬ ‭5:8-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.””
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What stood out to me…

These last two weeks have been chaotic in the Roehm house. We’ve had a couple unexpected health issues creep up and have required much of our attention. Pair those with the beginning of a new school/dance schedule and me working from home to get Women’s Community kicked off for the fall and my type-A, needs-everything-completely-in-order brain, can start to feel defeated.

While our health issues could be WAY, WAY worse, and the rest is a list of what I like to call “first world problems,” in the moments when I feel overwhelmed, my head goes into overdrive.

Even though only one item actually needs focus and completion by the next day, I’ll tell Jason everything on my mental to-do list for the next 2 months. This only makes things worse.

These moments are more than just manic bursts of words, they are hard on my heart. Often I can feel the ridiculousness of my rant, yet somehow am unable to make the choice to stop it. There seems to be dark fog over the part of my brain controlling all reason.

But  the days when I am willing to recognize His Spirit’s presence in the everyday moments, even in the midst of tough circumstances, those are good days.

I’ve learned evil sees our most vulnerable situations and convinces us we can’t handle what life throws our way. When doubts creep in, it can be easy to begin to feel crushed and forget His promise to us in Romans 8:31:

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

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Being children of the light means we don’t have to be owned by the circumstances life throws our way. We can admit we don’t understand our current situation, be sad, or even angry, and still proclaim His goodness.

The world throws enough curve-balls to give any of us the temptation to walk through life frustrated with God.

Instead, can we choose to let His light shine in the midst of our darkest times?

 

For Monday, August 31, read Ephesians 5:15-20

 

Give and Take

Ephesians‬ ‭5:1-7‬ ‭MSG‬‬

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.

You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God. Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don’t even hang around people like that.”

 

What stood out to me…

I love the idea of fairness and identify with the idea professor Adam Grant describes as being a matcher.

In his book Give & Take, Adam describes a matcher this way:

“Few of us act like givers or takers, adopting a third style instead. We become matchers, striving to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting. Matchers operate on the principle of fairness: when they help others, they protect themselves by seeking reciprocity. If you’re a matcher, you believe in tit for tat, and your relationships are governed by even exchanges of favors.”

 

I try very hard to not be a taker and want to fall on the side of having a giving heart, I know I naturally gravitate toward having a bend toward fairness.

While the idea of returning favors can be helpful in society, in the Kingdom of God, there is no room for a give-and-take relationship.

 

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His love is extravagant. God gives his goodness freely.

 

 

 

But for some reason, I can’t wrap my head around it. The matcher in me wants to fall into the habit of trying to serve God based on what He has done for me. Even worse, I sometimes find myself subconsciously placing expectations on God, thinking He “owes” me because of my obedience.

 

While I know neither of these scenarios is true to the heart of God's Kingdom, if I'm not careful, my societal habits can rob me of receiving what He fully has for me.

 

We are very much a work in progress, trying to remind ourselves God is not in a matching relationship with us. When we can recognize this mindset creeping in (or one of our close friends gently calls it out for us), we can replace our misplaced thoughts towards God by trying a few things:

-immediately repent

-write down what we are thankful for in the moment

-remind ourselves what He is asking us to grow in (there is always something)

-give ourselves grace for being in process, because we always are

 

This week in particular, I am feeling peace from Him in the midst of a bit of chaos. I am surrendering my belief of earning His love by being diligent to study His word.  I am choosing to trust the truth:  He is giving peace because it is His promise to me simply as His child.

 

Where do you have misplaced expectations on yourself or of God?  This week, can we repent and choose to believe, love, and give freely, without preformed assumptions?

 

For Thursday, August 27, read Ephesians 5:8-14

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Benefit of Others

Ephesians‬ ‭4:25-32‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
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What stood out to me….

Last weekend, Jason was on his own with the three kids while I headed to a conference with a few friends.  While I laughed until I cried, Jason and the kids had the best time too.  They had pizza, bike rides, Wii way past bedtime, the park, and a picnic lunch.  While I am still recovering from the work fun of having all three kids home this summer, I’m sure the events of this past weekend leave Jason exhausted.

A few minutes after I get home, I notice our toddler son has no fruit squeeze packets in the refrigerator.  Without thinking before speaking, I ask Jason, “Did Jack have any fruit while I was gone?”  He says, “There wasn’t any made.”

Marital victory is mine (or so I think) as I purpose to keep my mouth from saying out loud, “Did you think of blending any?”  Jason is looking at me and makes a snide remark.  Apparently, my facial expression has given my thoughts away.

Let’s just say the next few words were a blur and when we started speaking again several hours later, the root of the issue wasn’t just the fruit packet. (We talked about this last week, yes?)

The funny thing is, I had already been reading and rereading the above passage for a few days in preparation for this blog post. “That it may benefit those who listen” continued to stand out to me, but beyond these 7 words, I had nothing.

Reading it again through Sunday and Monday, it became clear to me why I didn’t receive an “ah-ha” moment last week, but instead after my argument with Jason.  God is so good to know when we will have ears to receive His truth most.

Jesus has brought us far enough in our marriage for me to know it isn’t uplifting to condemn Jason with a list of items he didn’t get done while I was away.

If I want more for my marriage, I can't just have a trained mind, I need to have a transformed mind.

When we are able to manage the items we are not to do, there is an achievement we recognize.  We are able to physically see our small victories and it serves as a sort of checklist in our brain.  

 

Didn’t say the unkind thought out loud ☑

Didn’t flip out over spilled milk ☑

Said yes to an apple instead of the sleeve of oreos ☑

 

Seeing the check marks in my brain helps me to verify my obedience with my thoughts.  I can control the training of my words and actions, but only Jesus can transform them.

As I ask the Holy Spirit to transform my mind, I am expecting more than I can imagine.

When I ask for a transformed mind when it comes to my husband, I believe God can not just remind me to keep my mouth shut.  He can convert my thoughts about Jason and my expectations to not even see what I previously would have.

Jesus wasn’t looking at Jason thinking he had missed a mark; He saw all the ways Jason had been an amazing dad.  By focussing my expectations on the goodness of Jesus and not the actions of others, the Holy Spirit will give me eyes to see differently.

 

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The idea of building others up…..edifying others; these are not just principles we put into place to protect us from causing others turmoil.  They are principles standing on the promise God has for us; to build us, renew us, edify us.

We are to take our agenda of training ourselves to do better and replace it with a plan to follow after Jesus more.

As our identity becomes centered in His truth, we take on the character of Christ. We become builders, redeemers, renewers, edifiers….all in the name of the One who is all of those things and more.

This week, I’m asking the Lord to give me an abundance of His character when I look at my husband.  While our marriage is great, I believe for immeasurably more when centered on the Rock.  What relationship are you going to seek a rich harvest from and not just checking the box?

 

For Monday, August 24, read Ephesians 5:1-7

Motives of the Heart

Ephesians‬ ‭4:14-24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
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What stood out to me…

 

Whenever I am fired up about something, my voice goes a few octaves louder and my blood pressure rises. I begin to speak before I think, and when I do think, I almost always believe I am right.

Mostly this happens towards Jason as a way to vent, not towards the person in question. He understands he married a person who processes things out-loud, so he has learned to listen well. :). And at the end of my rants, he’ll laugh and sometimes make a comment about the “Carpenter” coming out in me. Carpenter is my maiden name and Jason is making reference to the fact I come from a very long line of stubborn, often loud, speak-as-soon-as-we-think-it, people. We all think we are right most all of the time, which is interesting in disagreements. I’m pretty sure my dad feels some sort of victory when he watches my children show me the same “Carpenter” spirit I gave him as a kid. Yes, I did get at least one who is  just like me.

 

There are certain traits connecting us to our families.

 

I was born into the Carpenter family and so my husband isn’t surprised my fiery Carpenter side comes out sometimes.

 

As we meet those who have accepted Jesus and have been born again into the family of God, there are certain characteristics we expect to see.

As Kristan and I both mentioned last week on our blogs, these are not expectations born out of people needing to check the list of “God rules,” but making choices out of love for the Father.

Unfortunately, many Christians today are known for taking the concept of “speaking the truth in love” and not showing a lot of love with it. Many believers get stuck trying to drag others across the line of “correctness” rather than simply pointing them the direction of faith in Jesus.

 

When we find ourselves concerned with being right more than representing Jesus, we are missing a piece of the Gospel.

 

Absolutely there is a time to speak truth to those around us when it comes from a place of love.

When my mom was suffering with an addiction to alcohol, the unquestionable trust was she needed to quit drinking. As I approached her about it, the question became: was I wanting her to quit because of my love for her or because of her addiction’s inconvenience to me?

When I correct my children for the tone they use when speaking to me, am I coming from a place of wanting them to have a sensitive heart into adulthood to the way others hear them, or am I not wanting to be embarrassed and seen as an incapable mother?

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The motive of our heart matters to God.

 

 

 

Rather than looking at this verse in Galatians as permission to say what we believe is “correct,” I wonder if it calls into question the intention of our own words.  Are we actually being self-serving with our words?  Or, are we trying to please God in our truth to others?

 

As I practice putting off my old, quick-to-speak self, I am learning to be a better listener.

 

In order for us to speak the truth in love, we have to be able to receive the truth in love.

 

Are we able to lay our pride down, and allow the Holy Spirit and others who genuinely care for us to shine a light on our dark spots?

 

Compassion is built in experience. This week, let’s give someone permission to let us practice receiving some truth in the name of character growth. Then before we speak truth to someone, let’s check our motives. If there is even a sliver of something in us not completely sold out to the benefit of the other person, can we agree to hold our tongue and take it in prayer first, asking the Lord to change our own hearts?

 

Thank you Father that you have given us each other to help us represent you well. Forgive us when we selfishly forget we are all here for your glory and not our own. Give us ears to hear the words in love to help us grow more in your image, and give us compassionate words to do the same. Amen.

 

For Thursday, August 20, read Ephesians 4:25-32

Built Up

Ephesians 4:9-16 NIV

“(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 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. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
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What stood out to me….

imageReading through this verse a few times, I am reminded of all God has been showing me these last few weeks in Ephesians. The apostle Paul lays the encouragement of Christ on thick, yet he does not shy away from calling out all of the things misleading us away from a truly full relationship with God.

Through His Word, we are believing who His Word says we are, connecting to the Holy Spirit inside us, and recognizing misplaced anger. While we are trying to put it all into practice, we can’t quite get it right. When Paul talks about being built up here, it is a good reminder we are in process. If we had it all together, we wouldn’t need a Savior to lean on.

We weren’t created to be on our own, but to do life with Him.

Many of us realize we need Him, yet we often wish we had a genie-God to grant our wishes. Kristan had a great thought today on her blog.

“I want what I want, when I want it. But God’s timing is not our timing. He isn’t in a hurry and rarely do we snap our fingers and get what we’ve asked for. He is far too good of a Father to let us miss out on the process.”

Those of us who care for children can relate. If we always gave into the whining for dessert before the vegetables were gone, the kids would never acquire a taste for what is nourishing for them. In the process of helping children to grow strong, we must be present to coach them in making wise decisions.

If God let us skip the process of learning to recognize obedience as healthy for us, we would be far more likely to manipulate our way to what we want, rather than receiving the plan He has for us.

Today, let’s take a few minutes and thank Him for a position we didn’t understand at the time, but are now thankful for. Remember the trust we built with the Father through it. Then, ask Him to fill you and build you up in your current life situations.

 

For Monday, August 17, read Ephesians 17-24

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True Feelings

 

Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV

“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. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
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What stood out to me….

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With tears in her eyes, my 6 year old apologized over and over again for spilling her milk all over the kitchen. Inside I am dying I have made her feel this way, but outwardly I hear my voice escalate way beyond acceptable for the infraction.

I know my inflamed emotions have nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.

The spilled milk brings out of my mouth what is stirring in my heart; frustration.

Not frustration with the kids, my husband, our schedule or anything else outside of myself. No, this is a lingering feeling; sadness, loneliness, bitterness, perhaps.

 

Especially for women, the strong desire to feel included, wanted, and accepted can leave us striving to find our worth in the view of other people.

 

When we find ourselves unfulfilled, the smallest error often leads to misplaced frustration on those around us.

 

The spilled milk wasn’t the issue for me; it was the need to scream about how inadequate I felt. Instead of admitting I didn’t have it all together, I let my hurt be projected onto someone near to me.

 

“Hurt [adjective] people, hurt [verb] people,” is a true statement.

 

Truth is, we are all hurt. But are we striving after true healing?  The aching of our hearts will never be remedied by anything or anyone this world has to offer.

Because of the blood of Jesus, we have unbridled access to the Father. We have to choose to connect with Him; He is not only waiting, but pursuing us.

His word tells us we are completely received into a family, fully accepted, and seen as worthy. No striving or manipulation necessary.

We don’t have to endeavor to be humble, gentle, loving, patient, or have it all together.

 

We are already all of those characteristics because He made us in His image. Are we showing our belief in His word with our words and actions?

 

Addison is the most vibrant, happy, and clumsy kid around. If it can be spilled or broken, chances are good it will be.  On my best days, I believe I am who He says I am.  Which means when the milk cup gets spilled, I can take a deep breath, remember the Holy Spirit living inside me, and ask Him to act according to His grace. Sometimes, I even say the name “Jesus” out loud as a way to center myself before saying another word.

This is not my practice of trying to “do better,” but rather wanting to honor the truth of who I already am.

 

And on my worst days, when I let my own insecurities be projected onto the innocent, I am thankful I have a Jesus who saves and forgives.

If we had it all together, we wouldn’t need a Savior.

Thank you Jesus for the gift of grace.  We can come to you just as we are; you accept us, love us, and celebrate us.  Then, you take all the broken pieces we bring to the table and begin the process of redemption.  We love you Jesus.

 For Thursday, August 13, read Ephesians 4:9-16

Immeasurably More

Kristan and I are still writing a week ahead of time so we have to time to share what the Lord is saying to us.  Today in particular, I need to remember all the Lord has done for me, not put up my defense mechanisms, and to be bold in what I will ask of Him today.  As I present my request to the Lord today, I want to believe for immeasurably more.

Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

What stood out to me….‭‭‬‬

It is sort of an unspoken motto for myself to expect the worst, but hope for the best. In many situations I play out the absolute worst case scenario in my head, and then if it doesn’t happen, I call the situation a win.

My defense mechanism to protect myself from a broken heart is to not expect much and just be pleasantly surprised if anything works out. Messed up, right?

Most of us build up walls around us because we truly believe we will be better for it. We have all kinds of self-preserving self-talk:

  • We won’t put ourselves on the line to help someone again because then we can’t have our heart broken by someone taking advantage of us.
  • We aren’t getting too close in this new friendship because we don’t want to feel sad if it doesn’t work out the way we would hope.
  • We don’t ask for complete healing because having so much hope leaves us vulnerable to complete heartbreak.

And this list could go on…..and on…..and on.

baby feet

A couple years after my first child was born, I had an ectopic pregnancy and miscarried the baby. The unknown before me while having one less reproductive organ was scary.  I was devastated by the loss of the baby and lost hope in what I had always believed would be my future.

Can anyone relate?

When I was able to conceive again, I struggled to be happy. Worry consumed me and I told myself at least 100 times a day to not get attached; I would probably miscarry and when I did, I wouldn’t be as sad since I expected it.  I prayed for a healthy baby each day, yet always prepared in the back of my mind for the loss.

Where in the world did we learn to think in such a way?  Had I lost the baby (now my spunky 6.5 year old), I would have been devastated.

The same month I miscarried, my maternal grandma was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  As her only next of kin with which she had contact, it meant I shared in the brunt of tough decisions and being a prayer warrior for her healing. I was praying for her complete healing, yet planning a funeral at the same time.   Three months after her diagnoses, she passed away.

 

Same desperation in level of my prayers, different outcomes.

 

All of us experience situations where we plan for the reality we sit in, yet pray for what we seek.  Each and every day, straddling the line of the faith.

Today, I am completely sold out to the reality of the Holy Spirit living inside me, giving me access to Heaven at every moment.  Yet, the sadness and brokenness in our lives reminds us Heaven has not yet fully come.

We live in the paradox of the right now and not yet.

A friend of mine miscarried her first two pregnancies, both between 12 and 16 weeks.  Heartbeats had been heard, hope was had.  I remember sitting under one big fuzzy blanket with her on my couch, talking excitedly about what was now her third pregnancy.  She was about 18 weeks along and I was asking her how she was sleeping as she awaited her 20 week ultrasound; surely she was riddled with anxiety.  She basically said, “I am still sad for the loss of the other two pregnancies, but this baby deserves all the hope and joy I can give it and I deserve to enjoy this pregnancy.”

My friend clung to the promise of more joy through the life growing inside of her, not yet born.

We cling to the promise of more of His goodness here on Earth, even though the fullness of His character has not yet been revealed to us.  

Ephesians 3:20 has become a life verse for me.

ephsians 3 20

We can have confidence in our prayers and know no matter what we dream up to ask of Him, he has the capability of bringing more than our thoughts can even imagine.

We were created to believe for more and not settle for less.

Father,

Be our comforter when it seems like the road placed before us seems to rocky.  Remind us of Your promise to never leave us and to be our encourager.  Help us to trust You in the first step on the path and not let our minds be distracted in anxiety by what we can’t yet see.  We are so thankful for a God who wants to blow us away with Your goodness, for Your glory to be seen by all.  We love you.  Amen.

For Monday, August 10, read Ephesians 4:1-8

Expect the Process

We can easily forget where we are now is not where we are going.  When learning even the most simple of tasks, frustration can rob us of the excitement of learning something new.  If we are in the middle of a situation we’d rather not be in, we can really feel like time is standing still.  For me, it becomes helpful to take one minute and try to remember the moments I have felt frustrated or stuck before, and then look at the place I’m in now.  God isn’t standing still and he isn’t worried.

Ephesians 3:7-13 (NIV)

“I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.”‭‭‭‭‬‬

What stood out to me……

imageTradition for overnight visits with my grandma entailed me When I spent the night with my grandma, I loved helping with breakfast. My four-year-old self would stir the pancake batter, watch her make fun shapes on the griddle, and lick the spoon, all while simply sipping my coffee (aka mostly milk and sugar) from a petite mug.

Life was pretty good as I enjoyed the meal and went about my day.

As each year passed, I became responsible for a little more. Cracking the eggs, carefully measuring out all the ingredients, and even using the griddle were all tasks I learned to do myself.. I absolutely loved eating pancakes, but eventually, it became clear making pancakes takes a lot more work than preparing a bowl of Cheerios.

The work was a lot greater for the bigger breakfast, but so was the reward.

As I took more responsibility in helping with the meal, the more appreciation I had for what was plated in front of me.

When Paul speaks of “God’s grace given me through the working of his power,” he is speaking of the energy the Father himself put forth on behalf of Paul. The apostle Paul understands he is not a testimony for the Gospel of Jesus by accident, but rather it was a gift from God a gift from God and the result of a lot of energy [work] by Him.

We do not have a stagnant Father. His energy is always moving and advancing in those of us willing to partner with His Spirit to do the work.

Had my grandma never let me learn along the way about the process of making breakfast, I wouldn’t be able to pass along my (less than great) pancake-making skills. Had I never had to clean up or be a part of the preparation, I would not appreciate how sweet of a reward it was to enjoy eating them.

The Lord gives us His gift of grace and, with time and patience, He partners with us to do the work we need to represent His gospel well.

Whether he knew it or not, God was advancing in pursuit of Paul long before the Lord met Paul (then known as Saul) on the road to Damascus. In Acts 9, it says a blinded Paul had to go to the place the Lord commanded him and ask for Ananias. When Ananias prayed for Paul, scales fell from his eyes and He could see. He got up and immediately was baptized.

Paul partnered with the Father in obedience as he took literal steps to Damascus and he was able to appreciate the gift of sight.

If we aren't experiencing an appreciation for the good things we receive, I wonder if we are living a life of collaboration with Him.  Are there steps He is asking us to take, but we don't want to do the hard work?  Do we look at the Lord as an assistant instead of an empowering commander?

Let’s look at the areas where we have scales on our eyes, space in which he is wanting to advance us.  Next, we must be obedient to take steps in the direction He shows us. Then, we can have a heart of appreciation for the process of making the walk along with Him towards the reward of freedom.

For Thursday, August 6, read Ephesians 3:14-22

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