Category - Uncategorized

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Give and Take
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Benefit of Others
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Motives of the Heart
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Built Up
5
True Feelings
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Immeasurably More
7
Expect the Process
8
Every Generation
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Coming Home
10
What is the Solution?

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

Every Generation

Ephesians 3:1-6

“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:1-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What stood out to me….                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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Each Spring for the past 5 years, I have had the privilege of serving at the Awaken Women’s Conference held in Cincinnati.  It has become part of my routine during the morning worship session to sit in the balcony, away from anyone else, and pray.

 

During Awaken 2013, I was brought me to my knees as God broke my heart for the generation of women spread out before me.  As I was in a season of seeking a role in student ministries, I was caught off guard by the Father specifically calling out women as a generation in my thoughts.  I was spending so much time guiding the hearts of the “next generation,” and here he was drawing my attention to the peers directly in front on me.

 

The Lord is never just after the next generation; He is pursuing all of us!

 

In Acts 2, Peter is standing in front of a large crowd preaching the Gospel. At the end of his sermon, it says in verse 40,

 

“With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”

The word generation in this verse doesn’t mean a group of people born in the same time period. In this verse, generation means “people who are alike in pursuits or character.

Peter is warning the crowd to turn from those who seek the riches of this current world and to instead, pursue Jesus.

 

We love God and believe in Jesus, but many of us have settled into following rules and expectations of religion. We have become a generation know by a common characteristic; complacency.

We are not to be people known by being satisfied with what the world has to offer us.

We are called to partner with the Holy Spirit living inside us to be a generation known by our boldness to bring His love and power in the face of corruption.

 

 

For our our generation to begin looking more like the character of God, we have to be women who are pursuing uninterrupted time with Jesus on our own.

 

As we spend time with Jesus, our character begins to reflect the Father’s heart. As who we are shifts to being more like Him, the Holy Spirit is gently revealing ways we can actively start helping others see God’s Kingdom here on Earth.

 

As my grandma would say, “Don’t try to put the cart before the horse.”

 

It all begins with us; “this generation” as individuals beings in pursuit of Jesus. Then maybe we will be known as a group of people who reflect His character.

For Monday, August 3, read Ephesians 3: 7-13

Coming Home

Ephesians 2:17-22

“He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:17-22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What stood out to me….

Living near Cincinnati, our kids only get to spend time with grandparents five or six times a year. One of those times is in the summer, when the girls head 3.5 hours away to spend half a week with Jason’s family and half with mine.

Last week was “grandparent camp” in Indiana and the kids had the best time; parks, ice cream, museums, mini golf, shopping, and three trips to the movies. When I picked them up full of glee (and exhausted), my oldest said, “I had the best time, but I can’t wait to be in my own bed!”

 

Home brings a tangible amount of comfort.

 

No matter how fun our time away from home is, or the amount of good the work has produced, little can compare to the routine of home and the cool side of the pillow.

 

Today, it seems many of us spend such a little amount of time at home.  We work and spin our wheels until we drag ourselves across the finish line at the end of each day.  When we wake in the morning, we are often left longing for rest before we even put our feet to the floor.

Managing responsibilities and expectations on our own can leave us exhausted to the point we no longer recognize what we need for true rejuvenation.

[“I am home with the Holy Spirit, but there is also still work to do. This side of heaven I can’t get more home then I already am. It’s amazing how this small mental shift has changed the pace of everything in my life. RUSH has become a 4 letter word in our family and I’m not going to do it!

I will no longer allow the enemy to rob me of enjoying this journey. I don’t want to get to the end of my life, look back and see all the things I missed because I was too driven to slow down and take a deep breath. Hurriedness is from the enemy. It has been over glorified for far too long. Being in a hurry does not imply greatness or worth. It does not make me any more important than those who aren’t rushing. – Kristan Dooley” ]

 

Picturing our physical home causes different feelings in each of us.  Many of us anticipate joy, laughter, and love when we walk through the door after a long day.  Still some of us would rather bury ourselves in menial tasks and a list of endless errands to avoid the sadness or dysfunction awaiting us when we turn the key.

 

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At any time of day, no matter where we are, we can take a deep breath, access the Holy Spirit living inside of us, and expect His rest to fill us.

 

This week, instead of forcing ourselves to push through to complete tasks and meet expectations on our own, what would it look like for us to spend 60 seconds out of every 60 minutes and just breathe in His presence?  How might He change our perspective on whatever is in front of us?

 

Rest comes when we settle into the comfort of being exactly where we were meant to be….where we were created to be. Our home is with the Lord. Our home is in the Lord.

For Thursday, July 30, read Ephesians 3:1-6

What is the Solution?

Ephesians 2:11-16

Jew and Gentile Reconciled Through Christ

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

What stood out to me….

Jason and I are creatures of habit and routine.  Each night, around 11 p.m., he walks downstairs and fills our water glasses full.  We brush our teeth, take vitamins, check on each of the kids, and turn on the local news.  Admittedly, we have a routine similar to that of our grandparents.

While it has been fun to watch Cincinnati honored during the MLB All-Star week, the “happy” nights of news are very few and far between.  Jason chooses not to listen to stories involving children; most nights I lay there saying, “What is wrong with people?” There is just so much hatred and such sorrow!

By 11:30 p.m. our lights are out and I am rolled onto my right side, eyes shut, asleep in less than 30 seconds.

I am so overwhelmed by the sadness in the world, I have allowed myself to become numb to it.

We see society falling apart. Many of us serve where we can, when we can.  Our families send money and try to do our part by teaching our own children right from wrong.  We truly want to be a part of the solution, but aren’t exactly sure where to start.   The Spirit stirs our hearts, yet we often remain unmoved.

As believers, we want to see one nation, under God; One people, bringing Heaven here to Earth.

 

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How can one me, or one you, bring healing through Jesus?  How can we unite with others if we have never met them?

In Mark 9, an evil possessed boy is brought to Jesus after years of turmoil; the apostles had not been able to heal him.  Onlookers gawked because the situation seemed beyond remedy.  Jesus commanded the evil Spirit to leave the boy and it was done.  Later, the disciples asked Jesus how He was able to heal the boy of evil.

29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.(NLT)

 

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If we want to change the landscape of our family, our neighborhood, and our society, we need to make our desperation known through prayer and petition to the One with the ability to reclaim His rightful territory.

 

Father, this week may we believe your Word.  You tell us to knock and You will answer; ask and we shall receive.  May I be desperate in my requests to you this week on behalf of those who weep and lavishly thank You for all of Your goodness.  Amen.

 

Kristan is seeking to change too.  I love how on her blog today she encourages us not to only receive Shalom, but to offer it others as well.  “To speak shalom over someone is to speak completeness. It is to bless him or her with all God has to offer.”  Not sure what Shalom is?  Make sure you go read her study of the word and then walk forward in Shalom today.

For Monday, July 27, read Ephesians 2:17-23

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