Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my faithful followers and readers of this blog: Thank You. I appreciate you more than you know. May you have a very blessed Thanksgiving!

Norma

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An Exceedingly Good Destiny

 

“The destiny of every human being depends on his relationship to Jesus Christ.”

Oswald Chambers

When asked to give a report on the exploration of Canaan, God’s promise land, ten out of the twelve spies focused on the negative and hooked into their fears. Their response influenced the rest of the Israelites to weep, grumble, and rebel, even to the point of wanting to return to slavery in Egypt. But Joshua and Caleb responded differently. “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us” (Numbers 14:7-8).

Caleb and Joshua answered Moses and the community through their eyes of faith and they spoke what they knew was true. The truth was: 1) The land was extremely good, 2) When God is pleased with their obedience then He will lead His people into the land He promised them, and  3) God will give them the land.

Like Moses, Joshua and Caleb, had a closer relationship with God and knew Him better than the rest of the Israelites. Their assessment of the land was more accurate because they had a greater revelation of God’s character.

Moses, Joshua, and Caleb knew:

  • God gives His children exceedingly good things and He’s able to do immeasurably more than all we can imagine, according to His power. (Ephesians 3:20)
  • God delights in leading His children into His destiny for them.
  • God gives His children their destinies. They’re a gift from Him and don’t need to be earned. Destinies simply need to be received and opened.

Likewise, when we know who God is and who we are in relationship with Him, as His sons and daughters, then we know He is for us and is a good, good, Father. The result is we’ll assume the position of a victor and take the land He’s promised to us.

Going after God’s destiny, isn’t always a piece of cake. The Israelites still had battles to fight after they crossed over into Canaan. So too, there may be difficulties as we take possession of our promise land and fulfill our destinies. But it will be well worth it.

“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.”

Anonymous

Relevant Reflections:

  1. What truth(s) do you need to focus on to give you eyes of faith and the determination needed to take possession of your promise land?
  2. How can you identify with the Israelites’ response?
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The Secret to Courage

 

“Fear can keep a man out of danger, but courage can support him in it.”

Thomas Fuller

In I Chronicles 28:20, David gave his son Solomon a charge. “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” David spoke from personal experience, of knowing who God had been to him.

David, obeying God’s command, entrusted his son with the responsibility of building God’s temple. I can only imagine how overwhelmed and fearful Solomon must have been with that task. In essence, the purpose of this mini pep talk from a father to his son, encouraged Solomon’s heart and strengthened his resolve.

The secret to courage in this passage, lies within the promise that God is with us. It’s God’s presence which gives us what we need to face our fears. And not only does God promise to be with us, He assures us He will not leave us nor fail us. Some of us have experienced abandonment, but God will never desert us. In fact, God will help us be successful in obeying His will for our lives.

Each time I have had to face my fears of change, loneliness, and challenges in areas I thought there’s no way I can do this, God comes alongside of me, reassuring me that WE, He and I together, are totally capable of completing it. It’s God’s presence that gives me the courage, strength, determination, and the ability to accomplish what He desires. As I reflect upon the mountains He’s placed in front of me to climb, I am humbled and grateful for His promise to be with me.

“The only way to remove the fear from our lives is to listen to God’s assurance to us.”

Oswald Chambers

Relevant Reflections:

  1. What mountains are you currently facing? Thank God for His presence and for His ability to help you climb to the top of the mountain.
  2. How has God’s presence made you courageous?
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Fully Persuaded

 

“What I believe about God is the most important thing about me.”

A.W. Tozer

During this season of writing dormancy, it’s easy to become discouraged. As I declutter and pack boxes, to ready our house to sell, I wonder how I will fulfill God’s destiny to mentor the masses. But then I read one of my favorite passages, Romans 4:20-21, and my hope is renewed. “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.”

The verses before that passage, describe how Abraham knew that his and Sarah’s bodies were old, “as good as dead,” yet he still believed and had unwavering faith. The reason Abraham believed was because his faith rested in who God was. Abraham knew his God was a promise keeper, one who did what He said He would do. Abraham’s absolute faith wasn’t in his or Sarah’s ability to pull off God’s promise that they would have offspring as numerous as the stars, (Genesis 15:5). Rather, it was in the fact that God was all powerful.

When I read this story it causes me to desire to have that same, without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt kind of faith. I want absolute faith to permeate my whole being and to be fully persuaded that God’s promises for my family and my destiny, will be satisfied. I don’t want so much as a hint of uncertainty to enter my mind or heart.

I can depend on Him to be a God who stands by what He says, because He has proven Himself to be faithful over and over again in my life. God will do what He said He would do. Even though my focus, time, and energy is elsewhere and I am unable to work on larger writing projects, I am fully persuaded that one day, God will complete His call to mentor the masses. Because God has the power to do whatever He has promised.

“Belief is truth held in the mind; faith is fire in the heart.”

Joseph Fort Newton

Relevant Reflections:

  1. In what area(s) of your life do you need to be fully persuaded that God will do what He promised to do?
  2. Spend time thanking Him for who He is and for His faithfulness.
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Knowing God

 

“Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.”

J. I. Packer

We get to know God by spending time with Him in the Word and by experiencing Him. Before David became King, he faced and fought the giant Goliath. His older brothers and others more mature in the army were too afraid to take up that challenge. Even though David was much younger, he knew who God was experientially. God was there when as a shepherd, David killed a lion and a bear. David could testify to God’s faithfulness, strength, and protection. Because David knew God, he trusted Him to kill Goliath.

We get to know people by spending time with them and going through the ups and downs of life together. Because of my history with one friend in particular, I know whenever she faces adversity, she gives God thanks. I trust that the next time she comes upon a bump in the road, she will respond in the same way.

Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.” When I’m fearful and up against a giant, I reflect back on how God has intervened in my life. I get to know God’s character, nature, and attributes when I see who He is through my history. Observing how God came through for me in my past, gives me faith for today and for the future ahead.

When I remember who God is, I’m able to rest, assured He will be the same in the next situation. Because it’s God’s nature to be faithful, I know He will show Himself faithful again. He took care of me and my needs in the past, when a year ago, I had endometrial cancer, and a heart attack six years before that. Therefore, He will do that again in my future. I know who God is, and as a result, I place my trust in Him.

“There is but one thing in the world really worth pursuing-the knowledge of God.”

Robert Hugh Benson

Relevant Reflections:

  1. How do you get to know God?
  2. What giants are you currently facing?
  3. Reflect on God’s faithfulness in your past to give you reassurance for the future.
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The Overflow from the Heart

 

“Our words are a faithful index of the state of our souls.”

St. Frances de Sales

It’s important to take care of our hearts, because what is in us will come out, whether we like it or not. When I returned from a mission trip to war-torn Kabul, Afghanistan, and had not yet processed all that I saw and heard, it came out when I least expected it. One morning while lifting weights at the gym, I started to cry when the refugee camp and kids with maimed faces resurfaced my thoughts, pushing through the protective cap I had over my heart.

When I’ve been offended and hurt by a loved one, if I have not taken stock of what I felt, validated my hurt, and forgiven the offender, then when I least expect it, anger or cynicism leaks out. Jesus confronted the Pharisees in Matthew 12:33-35. “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

Whatever is in my heart eventually leaks out.  One way or another, I release my unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger, or my forgiveness, blessing, and acceptance. My speech, actions, and thoughts are dictated by what is in my heart. And that is why it’s essential to take care of it.

I enjoy having people over to my house, but I prefer a heads up about an upcoming visit. I’d rather have time to make sure things are put away and the house is fairly decent looking before I have a guest. Likewise, it’s imperative for me when I’m with friends and family to have my heart picked up, so that what comes out of my mouth is good. Jesus is wise to exhort us to be concerned about what is inside of us and how our hearts are doing, because others are affected by the overflow.

“Whatever moves the heart wags the tongue.”
Charles Thomas Studd

Relevant Reflections:

  1. What’s in your heart?
  2. How have you seen your attitudes, actions, and speech affected by the overflow of your heart?
  3. Name one way you will take care of your heart this week.
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Complete in Christ

 

“You can give up the need to compete in the world-when you accept being complete in Christ.”

Ann Voskamp

For years my shame kept me from feeling significant and valued. My low self-worth prevented me from seeing and believing who I am through God’s eyes. I was not convinced in my heart that I was unconditionally loved and accepted by God. I knew it in my head, but that truth needed to drop down eighteen inches into my heart.

My heart said I was not complete in Christ and what I did was never good enough. This mentality led me to strive to achieve and perform to gain acceptance. My contentment hinged upon being a successful mom, wife, or ministry leader. My significance came externally, from what I did, not as a result of who I was in Christ. And if I did not succeed, I would numb out through addiction. I was driven to find completeness through me and found it was not enough. But when I began to rest in what Christ has done and that I was complete in Him, my inner contentment soared.

Colossians 1:28 says, “We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” This is where I’m headed, to find or base my perfection in Christ and what He did on the Cross. When I’m complete in Christ, I am content. Contentment is the response to completeness.

If we’re not feeling content, then chances are, we’re not feeling complete or satisfied in Christ. The two go hand in hand; we cannot have one without the other. The more our significance and worth is grounded in who Christ is, who we are in relationship with Him and what He thinks about us, the less we will strive for significance through our achievements, success, and ministry. And the more we know in our heart of hearts how loved and accepted we are by God, the less we will seek to receive that through another means.

“The rarest feeling that ever lights the human face is the contentment of a loving soul.”

Henry Ward Beecher

Relevant Reflections:

  1. How content are you?
  2. What is your contentment based on – being complete in Christ or the success in your performance?
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Nothing is Impossible for God

 

Belief is a truth held in the mind. Faith is a fire in the heart.”

Joseph Fort Newton

King Saul’s son Jonathan and his armor-bearer were up against impossible odds with the Philistines. But because Jonathan’s faith was grounded in God’s promise (I Samuel 9:16), he took a risk in I Samuel 14:6. “Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, ‘Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.'”

What great faith Jonathan had in God’s ability to save! And he mentored his impressionable young armor-bearer with his statement of faith. Faith is contagious and so is doubt and pessimism. Like attitude, faith is more often caught than taught. They believed God could, so they did. They put their feet where their mouths, minds, and hearts were.

Jonathan and his co-worker were willing to lay their lives on the line based on their hope that “perhaps” God would show up, to save and deliver them from their enemies. They were able to do this because their belief system knew God could. They were compelled to step out in faith, because they believed the truth that nothing could hinder God from rescuing His children. Their faith, based in the truth about who God is, what He’s like and is able to do, trumped their fear. It didn’t matter how many Philistines there were, as long as God was in the equation, they would win.

Likewise, it still is the same today; nothing or no one is an obstacle to the Lord. He is still able to save and do whatever He wants to do. Matthew 19:26 says, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'”

When I know what’s true about God and believe it in my heart, my actions will line up with my faith, even though I may be fearful. Faith that rests in who God is, and not in what the situation looks like, is faith that will see there is nothing impossible for God.

“Faith tells us of things we have never seen, and cannot come to know by our natural senses.”

St. John of the Cross

Relevant Reflections:

  1. What impossible or improbable situation are you facing today. Remind yourself that nothing is impossible for God.
  2. In what way are you influencing others with your faith?
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