by Patty Morwood
A few weeks ago I sat in the foyer at church, listening to children recite Scriptures. Some spit them out in seconds, others were uncertain and shy. All had lived with their assigned verses for weeks and their mamas stood by, so supporting and encouraging as their young voices spoke the greatest Truth that has ever captivated the human mind.
Jim Berg wrote in Changed into His Image that the Bible’s “imagery of planting, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and harvesting was not chosen … because of the nature of the people [or their agrarian culture] but because of the nature of the truth …”
Even if we aren’t farmers in the real sense – though we may preside over a collection of container veggies – we grow and disciple others spiritually in ways similar to the nurturing of our summer tomatoes.
But first we must become a follower of His Word ourselves.
We must pour over His explanations of Himself, memorize His sentences, cultivate a desire to obey Him. The Bible’s perspicuity guarantees that we will slowly and remarkably understand the revealed mind of God as we walk His path through life, tucking the Word in our hearts and minds.
That’s why we have this rich Book in our hands, why thousands have died to have this Book in their language, why we teach our little ones to hide its truths in their hearts.
Even a child can understand its sentences … with a bit of mommy-help.
One of my sons memorized an incredible collection of Scriptures from a Bible Memory Association booklet when he was three years old. He stood there with darling little fat cheeks and deep brown eyes reciting sentences he could actually understand.
“A- all we like sheep have gone astray.” I just had to explain a tiny bit and define one word, but it wasn’t hard to find a practical application. Teasing and baiting his twin brothers mercilessly deserved consequences.
“B- but He was wounded for our transgressions.” Jesus died for this sin, son; why are you doing it?
“C- children, obey your parents in the Lord.”
“D- draw near to God and He will draw near to you,”
“E- even a child is known by his doings.”
There was a scripture for every letter of the alphabet in that little booklet. And each was chosen because three year olds could understand them; and mommies could teach and pray them.
When my brown eyed toddler grew up and had his own two year old, he asked if I still had his little memorization book … the ABCs of Truth for Children.
Yes, I’d been waiting.
For I knew that one day there would be another toddler, one that would live in his house.
And yes, she has deep brown eyes and fat little cheeks too.
by Patty Morwood
The New Year is an opportune time to revamp spiritual habits, notably the presence or absence of meditation. I usually begin my devotions with a Psalm and then several chapters in whatever portion of Scripture I’m reading at the time. But meditation hasn’t been part of my program.
Things changed this last year. So, I want to ask you: have you read Timothy Keller’s Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God? I’m in a small group which has been together for several years; we usually read Puritan sermons, but this last year we decided to be modern, so we chose this book.
It’s the richest blessing we have experienced in quite some time. So I’ve chosen one part of Keller’s book to challenge you in this new time of a new year.
Meditation is actually listening to God’s “voice” in Scripture and thinking slow and hard on what’s there. You will ask basic questions of a passage, of God and finally of yourself … in this order.
I was surprised to learn that meditation is hard work, demanding the use of my mind more intensely than I previously thought. Really hard work. I wish deep thinking would burn calories!
To begin right, you need a good rich translation of the Bible – the ESV or the NKJV or the ASV – and a prayer journal to write in … for believe me, you will need to write as you meditate.
First, there are two basic over-all questions to ask of any passage in the Word:
1) What does the original author intend to communicate, and 2) what role does it play in the whole Bible, in other words how does it “move along the main narrative arc of the Bible which climaxes in salvation” through Jesus Christ?
Obviously the answers you find with these two questions lay the ground upon which to build the rest of your understanding. Just these two questions keep you from going off-text into error and being too enamored with your own subjective feelings.
Second, Keller moves his reader to a few teaching points from Martin Luther. With these you analyze the passage for things to praise, to repent of, and to petition (ask).
Therefore to praise, ask: what does this passage show me about the character of God so I can praise the lover of my soul?
To repent, ask: what does this passage show me about myself so I can repent?
To petition, ask: what does this show me to petition Him for?
Can you tell that by now you are in the meditation-world? You’re reasoning from Scripture, one question at a time. You are having to think it out; I hope you are doing this ‘corem deo’, before the face of God. Because oh boy, is this beautiful!
Third, after exhausting your efforts with the two basics and then with Luther’s questions, you can really exhaust yourself with questions that help you evaluate yourself.
Unfortunately, most of us tend to do self-evaluation first, before we really know the passage’s thrust and how it connects with the rest of the Bible. Red light! Error likely happens when you begin your quiet time in this manner, focusing on yourself. Only analyze yourself spiritually after you have done the hard work listed in the paragraphs above.
To evaluate yourself in prayer and meditation, use such questions as these:
What wrong thoughts and habits-of-mind develop when I forget this passage?
If I don’t embrace this passage, what sinful feelings will spring alive in my mind and heart?
What should I quit doing in my daily life? What should/must I begin to do in my daily life?
Am I living inside this truth at all? Do I take the need to change seriously?
And very importantly, consider the timing of evaluating yourself … ask: why is God showing me this right now?
It’s important to use this experience in every waking moment after you have put down your Bible and gone forward with your day. Savor what you learn in meditation; preach the truth to yourself continually. Use what you learn in meditation to encourage other believers.
And in time, you will begin to see yourself being molded to the character of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is godly, powerful, real, and beautiful.
by Taylor Abigail (originally published on tabbybe.wix.com/beginnings)
I'm scared to write these days. The thing I know I'm made for seems too big for me to hold. And it is. It's all so terrifying, not because I'm so small, but, because it's so good. I don't understand why I've been asked by two people to help write a book and why my own book is so easily flowing out. I don't understand grace and I don't understand how deeply God's eyes can see the desires of my heart, "Abba I just want to write." And He gives it to me in overwhelming abundance.
I was at an outreach event where we passed out snacks to students during finals week. One guy responded, "I'm sorry, I'm just not used to unsolicited kindness." Same.
Being completely overwhelmed by love or goodness is something that's available to everyone but something very few actually step into. It's the feeling that if you start to cry you might not stop. It's like confessing what's been inside for years. It's the feeling of finding yourself under a light that you didn't ask for. But you secretly love all of it. And it takes strength to admit it's what your soul craves.
It feels like being free and having no idea what to do with such a gift.
I write in my journal, "God, I have no idea what to pray about right now." He says, "Anything you want!" I couldn't pray for a day because I knew I would receive. And I thought that was too much love for my human heart to handle.
I start to write back and He says, "I trust your heart."
And I'm siting here trying to write about the feeling that comes when the Creator and King of the Universe says He trusts my heart...and my heart is running circles because of joy, hope, love and it doesn't care how heavy it's breathing. Freedom is sweet.
I trust Him more now too. This intimacy is my freedom. The prayer that got me here was, "Show me what it means to be Your daughter" and "God please just hold my heart and make it warm." I felt His pride for me swell and His excitement grow. I have a confession, I don't always want to be on a mission for Jesus and sparring in warfare for The Kingdom. Sometimes, I just want to sit in His lap. And it's beautiful because that is a kind of fighting...and a kind of surrender.
"It seemed her lungs could never be large enough to breathe in this much air, her eyes could never see this much space, nor could she hear the full extent of the rolling, roaring ocean. For the briefest moment, she had no edges." - The Light Between Oceans (slightly edited)
I'm trying to live like I'm trusted which makes me trust more; just like living loved makes me love more. I'm trying to call God my Abba more and soak in what it means to have His trust. I don't think it means I get extra adventures or more miracles done at my word, I think it means I have peace. I trust Him, He trusts me, we're good. I think it means someday I'll hear His heartbeat more loudly. I think it means I'm just trying to be the King's kid and run in the reign He's given me.
I think it means we are a team, a family, a couple. It means humility bursts from my heart because I know me and I'm glad I can trust God instead of me. And I'm glad He makes me new and wants to trust me too.
by Patty Morwood
Do you plan spiritually for your new year; do you give thought to what could be your spiritual focus?
I do, and I begin by searching Scripture for a passage that says to me “spend time here”. Though none of us knows what the New Year brings, we can prepare for the work the Lord Jesus will inevitably do in us by cultivating a submissive heart.
My Scripture choice illustrates where I want to grow in the coming months; they are lines I can meditate on and pray about … and then walk with the Lord learning to become.
Below is a cascading thought-sentence that augments Galatians 5:22 - 23, my spiritual focus for 2017. Every day I will meditate and pray and cooperate with the Holy Spirit… so these character qualities can be grown in me.
Beginning January 1 and every morning following, I will rise early-early, when the sky is still deep and black, and make a cup of tea. My Bible and prayer journal will be where I left them the day before… open and ready.
And I will submit myself to the Lord and prayerfully choose ...
No occasion justifies hatred
No injustice warrants bitterness
I choose love because today I will live for God and love what He loves
I refuse to nurture a critical spirit
I refuse to blame or hurt
I choose joy because today I will remember who I am in Christ
Living every day cognizant that I am a forgiven woman changes everything
Extending that same reconciliation and grace to others honors God’s name
I choose to forgive so I may show what peace actually and truly is
No failure is beyond God’s grace
His patience with me shows me how to serve others
I choose patience, for God has blessed me with His Holy Spirit
Cynicism and unkindness deny God’s desires for me, a woman of His own choosing
Hypocrisy destroys my witness
I will be kind for such is God’s treatment of me, His former bitter foe
I will be overlooked and even denigrated before I will boast
I will confess before I accuse
I choose the Godly strength of goodness
My husband will not question my love
My family never fear I will not listen
I choose faithfulness to this very household God has given me
If I raise my voice may it be only in praise
If I clench my fist may it be only in prayer
If I make a demand may it be only of myself
I choose God’s gentle way to grow Christlikeness in me
I am a spiritual being, thus one day my spirit will soar heavenward
But while on this earth, I refuse to let self-indulgence rule
I choose self-control physically, mentally and spiritually
LOVE, JOY, PEACE
To these Fruits of the Spirit I commit my day
If my life exhibits them, I will give thanks
If not, I will seek His grace
And then, when the day is done, I will thank the Lord for the strength to give the good days and the more difficult days into His hand
Won’t you come along with me?
by Jodean Jones, foreword by Patty Morwood
The Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622 AD
Jodean Jones is an amazing woman. She always spurs me to be strong, to bow the knee to God’s will, to
ask for prayer. Now she is at a crossroads in life; her two children are grown and attending universities
on the West coast; she and her former husband have sold their stunning showcase farm. And now
Jodean is moving to the big city!
Her giftedness is reflected in seemingly disparate concentrations: culinary excellence, a just-completed
MBA, and her faithful hard-working servanthood to her church family. I am one of the recipients of her
grace. I love her.
Jodean wrote this Christmas article in 2010; it was birthed in hard times. She was still married then but
things were pretty bad. In God’s people, sanctification is always birthed in hard times, and Jodean
learned her lessons well: trust God no matter what, adore Him at all times, lean completely into the Lord
Jesus Christ Himself … and follow wherever He leads.
Reflections on the Savior in a Stable
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
2 Corinthians 6:21
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son …”
Romans 8:28, 29a
Do I really think that God plans good for Christians no matter what is happening to them? Perhaps you and I should ask ourselves that question periodically. Asking it out loud, no matter what I’m doing always stops me in my tracks. At least the tracks of my thinking.
I was well into my adult years when I realized that my brain was working on things constantly, without me even knowing it. When my children were young I’d go to bed exhausted – having six children running all over an acreage does that – but unable to sleep because my mind was seeing quilt designs and colors and fabrics.
I’ve since realized that my mind thinks all kinds of things, not just artistic designs. And it thinks without my permission. Easily it’s sinful thoughts living there, because I’m a sinner.
So I take care with what is in my mind; it’s one of my chief daily efforts. Memorizing Scripture and reciting it back to God, and singing hymns and praise songs when I’m busy around the house or chatting with friends are always the starting point for training my mind to think Truth.
Even so, that ole’ mind can still be pretty sloppy sometimes, when I’m not paying detailed attention to it. In Jerry Bridges’ book, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts, various subjects having to do with trusting God’s sovereignty are discussed. Often he returns to Romans 8:28 and 29 as the best reason to trust and the best explanation for pain and trouble.
This is where I realized my sloppy thinking was circumventing the peace gained by trusting God. There is a ‘good’ that you and I can actually expect in our lives, even if our circumstances are horrible and continue to be horrible. I’m praising God for Bridges’ explanation because I had blindly begun to assume, without realizing it, He will work that good into my life which is copacetic to what my idea of good is.
Even though Scripture clearly shows it’s the grating pain of adversity, not comfort or ease or prosperity that is God’s instrument of choice for sanctifying His people. Even though since first century AD the Church – and the persecuted Church of today -- has gloriously impacted the world from the fires of suffering that God didn’t abateit wouldn’t apply to me. Even though somewhere Christians have always lived in want, without opportunity to better their families’ lives, and in physical sickness without remedy.
And even though the Church has suffered more in the 20th century than in all of history combined, I just slid into keeping myself unscathed.
God is God, so He doesn’t make mistakes, He knows what He is doing in usesing all things for the good of His people.
There is cosmic purpose in it all: That’s because of what ‘good’ really is. VGod predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son. And that Son is good, actually the only good of all time, ever.
This is no glib feel-good statement. It is He Who knows what is necessary … and He works adversity and blessing to fashion Christlikeness in us hard resistant sinners.
Sinners with renegade minds of our own. Sinners with the propensity for refashioning reality in our own image. But think: our story is a God-given story because it’s a story of sanctification and is tailor-made for each of us. What a blessed and challenging life we who are loved-by-God are to have!
Therefore, in light of Romans 8:28 and 29, our prayers can be three-fold: One) that we would submit to Him in all things because His purpose is for our good; and Two) that we would watch over our minds’ thinking, for this readies us to meet Him in our sufferings and difficulties rather than fighting against Him; and Three) that we would cooperate by believing and trusting God’s Word. When we’re hemmed in, pressed down, and cornered in the hard things, remember God’s Word!
But more than remembering, go further: wrap this truth around your soul and use it to guard your susceptible mind because -- what heavenly joy this is! -- He is working all things for ‘good’ – His image in you.
What’s the triumph of this past year for you? Even if it seems to be the smallest thing, let its significance wash over you. What’s the pain of this past year for you? Even if it seems to be the smallest thing, let its significance wash over you. Come Christmas and New Year’s, even amidst the celebration and joyful gatherings, it’s easy to feel like we are tumbling to a swift halt as the year closes. Memories we wish wouldn’t have happened, friends we long to see again, and the reminder of broken families can send our minds into a tailspin.
It’s so important to reflect on our past. I recently heard a quote, “Our past doesn’t dictate our future but makes our present profound.” This was spoken by a young man with stage 4 esophageal cancer. The message of his talk and context of the quote was the power of perseverance and finding the joy in the journey. His doctors don’t know why he is still alive, but he is; walking and speaking and sharing God’s strength.
What about your past has made your present profound? In what ways do you believe that your past will dictate your future?
Jeremiah 29:11 “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Proverbs 23:18 “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Our pasts influence who we are and where we are headed, but they are not our sole identity. The names Christ gives us completely cancel any name or fate our pasts have given us. Free, beloved, pursued, righteous, blameless, and adopted are just a few in the lengthy list of our new names.
Maybe this Christmas season, the time when we celebrate the Messiah, is the perfect time to renounce what’s happened and to step into the hope we have because of Jesus. He died to rescue you, to be close to your heart, and to give you freedom to be your best self.
Your present is profound, your future full of hope, and your name given by the Christ Himself. Let’s celebrate this renewal together.
By: Taylor Abigail
I recently read Moving Mountains by John Eldredge. He confronts the elephant in the room about prayer: “Some prayers work and some don’t.” As I went through the book, I found myself examining my own prayer life: the disappointments, the joys, the struggles and the victories. I went to Scripture with the question, “What’s the key to successful prayer?”
Of course, the Lord doesn’t always answer prayers in the way or in the timing we would like. But even in those times I want to know that I’m praying the best I can and able to listen to His guidance clearly. I found that it matters much less how I pray than who I am praying to and what I believe about Him. These 5 beliefs once absent from my prayers have begun to revitalized my spiritual life and I’m confident they’ll do the same for you!
Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves in prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
Other translations use the word “vigilant” in place of “watchful.” When we pray, it’s important to be vigilant for how the Lord is moving within our requests! Is He altering our hearts towards the matter? Is He shaping circumstances? Every advance He makes indicates a need for new wisdom in how we pray through the situation. He is always renewing, and so our prayers always need renewal as we strive to stay in step with His work. The truth that our Creator hears and listens to our every cry continually astounds me. My heart overflows with thanks that I am not alone. Our prayers are even sweeter to His ears and our souls when we scatter thanks and praise throughout!
2. Belief that God is for us.
Romans 8:31b, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
This staggering truth straddles both the spiritual realm and the earthly realm. Since we are covered by Jesus’ blood, we are seen as righteous and holy by the Father. We are loved just as Jesus is loved! Our eternal, spiritual destination and standing is set and God has every intention on having us experience that blessing even now! Yet, when the Lord calls us to something, something else almost always seems to block the way. But Romans 8 declares that nothing can be against us! If you are confident in the Lord’s leading, the opposition and obstacles will melt as you walk into His plan in faith.
3. Belief that He is good.
James 1:13b, 16-17, “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone…don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
1 John 1:5, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
I know, it seems elementary. But the devil will do anything to prevent us from believing in the goodness of God. When we believe that God isn’t good (or that He isn’t being good to us) our prayers may cease or become unheartfelt. When we pray, amidst whatever circumstance, we must believe that He is good always and only gives perfect gifts to His children.
4. Belief that He hears us.
Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
The Lord promises to answer us; He promises to hear us. If I feel myself become frantic or desperate as I pray, it is often because I have forgotten the truth that He is listening and at work. I don’t need to labor and frantically hope that He bends His ear to me. I always have His attention and knowing that helps me give Him all of mine and to rest as I pray.
5. Belief that He talks back.
Matthew 7:7 is evidence enough of this. But flip through the Old Testament and you will witness conversations between God and His people happening daily. Maybe little noticed is that that theme is carried over into the New Testament. He sends His prophets to specific people and places, comforts mothers, and sends His angels with messages. Constantly praying without a hope of hearing back is enough to discourage anyone in their prayer life. That is because we aren’t meant to pray that way! The Lord is talkative and intimate with us if we will let Him speak. Have faith to have open ears and you will experience His voice!
What do you think of when fall begins? As a striking season of change, it’s easy to have vivid memories and hopes attached; looking forward to the kids being out of the house for school, sweater weather, or maybe that trip to the mountains you’ve been planning to be right in the heart of the colors. But maybe you feel a little left out in what you think of when fall comes. The end of a relationship, the increase of stress, or the death of a loved one may be your first thoughts as the leaves turn. Whatever the change may be, there is beauty hidden within it.
“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
Change in life is mysterious, exhilarating, and terrifying all at once. It can seem that just when we get a grip on our current situation, something gets turned upside down all over again. Even with positive changes, there is always a healthy grieving of the past, but, also a brave acceptance of the new. The Lord has promised to walk with us through every season and every change, whether it be a trial or not.
“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
As the fall approaches and new things are beginning and old things ending, let us walk through changes with grace, humility, and bravery.
1. Communicate to God how you feel and think about the change.
If you sense your circumstances becoming unfamiliar or daunting, call out for help! If you feel stretched in character, ask for His guidance! Our relationship with God is sweetened when we unfold entirely before Him. He looks on us with kind eyes and is eager to provide rest and courage.
2. Surrender to and receive the new season.
We can only see the treasures along the path if we are committed to walking it. Since God has called us here, there’s no need to fear!
3. Appropriately grieve or celebrate the end of the previous season.
It was a gift. It shaped who you are. Bid it the farewell it's due. It will help you embrace what’s next with joy and hope.
4. Gain discernment in how best to live within this new time.
Pray and wait. God knows every step and the Spirit can help you be in tune.
5. Be encouraged!
The Lord is dedicated to growing us up. This new season will act as a reward or a time of growth.
By: Taylor Abigail
To the woman who’s ever felt disappointed,
I see you. I’ve been you.
It’s an unhappy connection we have, you and I--one that confirms we aren’t meant to feel this way. We can sit, we can mourn, we can look into each other’s eyes, and whisper “This is just life.” Or, we can listen quietly and intently as to hear Jesus’ gentle voice say, “Let me rescue you, please.”
The first calamity in our lives teaches us something: don’t hope too strongly for good. Our reaction to the first deep pain is the fast shrinking of our soul. The agreement that “to be disappointed is to live” is harshly branded onto our hearts and often goes unnoticed. We continue to live after the tragedy but no longer out of wonder or freedom. We exist out of a new place: disappointment.
Children aren’t born programmed to expect disappointment. They are born with a joyful surety that the world is theirs for the taking. But the enemy’s goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. The first thing he often steals is our playful, childlike, and adventurous spirits. Sadly, recovering this heart is the last thing to be addressed from the pulpit. Instead, Christian culture continues themes of solemnity and caution and we get caught up in issues of skirt length. We find that we are just surviving and trying to get by because we’ve learned that it hurts when our hopes and expectations aren’t met.
There is a journey out of disappointment and into healing that we can choose to embark on. Perhaps regaining our childlike spirit is the place where we need the Gospel the most. We need to believe again, like a child believes, that there is goodness and blessing for us here on earth; we need to believe that our lives can be abundant because God is abundant.
What’s the biggest disappointment in your life? Be honest. The man you married? The way one of your kids turned out? Not being selected for that special honor in college? The fear and sadness that the time is past for dreams to come true are strong. But can I give you hope? Rather, will you let Jesus tell you what He thinks about your disappointment and frantic efforts to never let it happen again?
John 16:33 “I have told you these things so that in me, you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Isaiah 61:7, “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”
Please silence the voice that says we will only see God’s redemptive power like that in Heaven.
Psalm 27:13 “I remain confident in this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Our good hearts are wired to long for the extravagant, the redemptive, and the extraordinary. These things are what Heaven will be, and these things are even possible on earth. This is not the prosperity Gospel. Abundance in the Lord still looks different than an abundance that the world offers. It’s different in that we can live an abundant life in any place because our souls are fulfilled and satisfied; not because our material wealth exceeds expectation. Because we truly believe He satisfies, out of a brimming and hopeful soul we can come to the Father with confidence that He will work within our mundane realities. Because we’ve felt in our hearts the fullness and peace that comes from true belief in His goodness, intimacy, and care for us, our dreams are free to run wild and grow because we are confident in His love for us.
Luke 12:22-32, “Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom…’”
What did we hear from this? God is abundant. “God is pleased to give you His Kingdom.” What does this mean? He clothes the fields extravagantly and says He will clothe you brighter still. We don’t have to live like we’re “settling” and have that be a disguise for contentment. We can ask the Lord for our wildest dreams and fully expect their fruition. In Christian culture, we don’t talk about dreams; we talk about God’s will. We don’t talk about self-expression; we talk about becoming conformed to Christ’s image. We don’t talk about praying boldly; we talk about self-forgetfulness. Paying attention to God’s will, conforming to Christ’s image, and self-forgetfulness are all blessed and biblical. But let us examine our hearts and see if we are avoiding our dreams and desires because we are afraid of disappointment. If our Lord is saying He plans to be lavish with us, what holds us back from leaning into that and expressing exactly what we want and then listening to what God says about it? Believing God when He asks us to pray about all things and that when we ask we shall receive changes everything. Believing He is lavish and abundant with our specific requests and desires is invaluable to our experience of His presence and our soul’s contentment. In my experience, my expectations of Him have been too small, not too selfish. It delights Him when we are excited for life because we trust that our daddy loves us and is abundant with us.
Let’s let God introduce Himself to us as wild, scandalous, and larger than any obstacle. Is it hard to look this God in the eye because we’ve been disappointed and brokenhearted one too many times? Does He seem too good to be true and even “counter Christian cultural”? What does it require of you to believe that no situation is beyond His repair, that He really meant it when He said He is our shield, and that we really can trust Him? Bravery to believe. That’s all.
We need the bravery to banish the idea of a weak, silent, convoluted God. Many of us would never say that this is the view of God we have, but functionally, it’s easy to live like we are avoiding Him. The beautiful truth is that God is good and intimate with every single area of our lives and He is always communicating with us. He longs for us. He cries out for our hearts. He promises individuals hope for the future and goes so far as to declare every single trial [insert yours here] as redeemable and able to bring forth joy. We want to hear this God. We want to feel Him snuggle up next to us in bed when it’s a lonely night. We want to see His smile when we close our eyes in the sunshine. Let’s believe these things happen.
To the woman who has ever felt disappointed, let’s live abundantly because we believe He is abundant. Let’s take on a new name: to the woman who lives loved, I know you’re in there.
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Cornel Warren, Managing Editor of Live with Heart & Soul, shares her heart as she reaches Christian women with timeless, beautiful content to encourage and inspire their walks with God, themselves and those around them.