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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No Compromise

 

“Spiritual death happens one compromise at a time.”

Anonymous

When I was little I loved to sing and do the movements to the Hokey Pokey song. It is a circle dance which has you putting one foot in and one foot out and shaking it all about, as it goes through various body parts. It ends with putting your whole body in and your whole body out. The other day, I thought of this song when I read Titus 1:16a, “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him.” Paul warned Titus of false teachers, those who were rebellious, mere talkers and deceivers. (Titus 1:10) They said they knew God, but their actions showed something completely different.

The first twenty years as a believer I had one foot in the world while the other was in Christian circles. I lived a life full of compromise. It was obvious by my actions, that I loved myself, more than I loved Jesus. I put myself and my desires first, ahead of what God wanted. It was more important to please me than to please the Lord.

Then I heard about lordship, having Jesus be the Lord, not just Savior, of my life. Lordship is displayed as I bow down to God and obey Him. Since then, over the past twenty-six years, I have purposed in my heart to fear the Lord, submit to Him, and obey Him. I’ve wanted to be God’s daughter who walked her talk. I have found the key to sinning less, walking without compromise, and having my actions confirm that I know God. The secret is to fall in love.

The more I love God, the more I will look like God. Just as falling in love is a process in the natural realm, so is falling in love with God. In fact, I will often pray, “God, cause me to fall more madly in love with You.” You please the one you love. So the more I love God, the more I desire to please Him, living a life with no compromise. Now I have my whole body more often in, as well as my mind, will, and emotions. And that’s no hokey pokey!

“One compromise here, another there and soon enough the so-called Christian and the man in the world look the same.”

A.W. Tozer

Relevant Reflections:

  1. Would others describe you as a believer who is “all in,” submitted to the Lordship of Jesus?
  2. Ask God to cause you to fall more in love with Him so you live without compromise.
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Faith: Our Trump Card

 

“The greatest need we have is not to do things, but to believe things.”

Oswald Chambers

The trump card is the highest ranking card that wins a hand. Faith is the Christian’s trump card. Chapter eleven of Hebrews is described as the faith chapter or faith’s Hall of Fame, as it lists those in the Bible who displayed faith by their actions. Hebrews 11:33 and 23b explain what faith does. “…who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice and gained what was promised…” Moses parents’ “were not afraid of the king’s edict.”

According to those two verses, faith does four things. Faith:

  • Conquers kingdoms
  • Administers justice
  • Gains what was promised
  • Overrides fear

Satan constantly tries to assert his kingdom of lies and accusations in my mind. But faith tells my mind the truth according to God’s Word. Faith drowns out the roar of the enemy’s lies and other strongholds he attempts to erect. No fortress can withstand the power of faith.

Faith makes things right, equitable, and just. When we have wisdom from God, we’re able to treat people fairly and honestly, as we see things clearly.

Faith releases the fulfillment of the promises of God. When we believe and trust what God said, it secures the fruition of what He promised. Because God said it, we believe it and know it will happen.

Faith is bigger than our fears and elicits peace and rest. When we trust in the One who is sovereign and in control, our hearts hold steady, even during a raging storm.

When I find myself lacking faith, I simply pray, Father, release greater portions of faith, so I may believe and remain firm in my faith, no matter what I see with my eyes. Where do you need more faith in your life? Do you need it to demolish strongholds, provide wisdom to be just, to remain steady while waiting for God’s promises to be released, or to replace fear with His peace and rest? No matter the reason, He loves to answer our prayers for more faith.

“Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.”

Augustine

Relevant Reflection:

Which area of your life do you need more faith? Ask God for a release of greater faith.

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Layers of Surrender

 

“Growth in the Christian life depends on obedience in times of crisis.” 

James Dobson 

This past week John and I were in Wichita hunting for a house. We looked at nine houses the first day but only one was a possibility. The whole day I seemed to be very picky and found something wrong with each house. My complaint about the house we liked was that it was farther east and I felt isolated. I told our realtor, as she drove us back to the hotel, that I felt resistant but didn’t understand why. 

I checked emails and Facebook after we returned to our room and noticed a dear friend sent me a video. I sat on the bed and watched a man tell me I was “awesome.” I began to weep as I felt so loved, valued, and not forgotten by my friend. That is when the Lord began to show me what was in my heart and why I had been resistant.  

My isolation complaint came from my heart that feared abandonment. I was grieving all over again the loss with our upcoming move from Omaha. The solution was to surrender again. I’m surprised by how many times and layers of surrendering I’ve gone through. I think I’ve arrived and made it to the end of the road of surrender, only to discover it’s just another layer and I need to process my heart a little bit more. 

The next morning during my quiet time, the Lord used Jeremiah 38:17 to confirm my need to surrender. “Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, ‘This is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: If you surrender to the officers of the King of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live.'” The Holy Spirit gently nudged me to repent of my resistance, to push past my fear of abandonment, and to embrace our move to Wichita. 

Resistance to the Lord’s will, never ends well. It’s only as we surrender and embrace obedience to His direction, that we receive what we’re looking for. I don’t know how, but I believe my surrender to God’s will, no matter how hard, will actually bring restoration to my heart. Our move to Wichita will somehow increase my attachment, trust, and intimacy with God in such a way that my fear of loneliness, isolation, and rejection will decrease. 

“Growth begins when we start to accept our own weakness.” 

Jean Vanier  

Relevant Reflections: 

  1. How are you resisting God’s will for your life? 
  2. Take time to grieve and surrender another layer to Him. 
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Abundance

 

“Obedience brings blessing.” 

Elisabeth Elliott 

God loves it when we obey Him and the twenty-sixth chapter of Leviticus confirms this. Here are some of the rewards from obedience that are listed in that chapter: great harvest that lasts till the next season of sowing, peace, security, fruitfulness or increase, God’s presence, and freedom. God highlighted verse ten to me. “You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new.” This scripture gives me the impression of abundance, having more than enough. When we obey God, His reward is abundance. 

The Lord showed me years ago that when we surrender to God’s authority, the exchange always goes up. God asked us to close down a ministry we pioneered for almost eight years, without any idea of what He had next, but He promised us it would be even better. I am holding onto that same assurance now, in regards to what God has next for us in Wichita. 

It comforts me that in the midst of grieving loss, there is always hope. Hope for more. More of His presence, more fruitful ministry, more freedom, and more of the outworking and anointing of the Holy Spirit. And for that, as well as God’s worthiness, I gladly obey. 

I believe John and I will still be eating from the harvest in Omaha, while needing to make room for the new God has for us in Wichita. God has assured me that He will cause us to flourish and reach a new height of development and influence in Wichita. His equipping there will allow us in even greater ways, to be who He has created us to be, thus fulfilling His destiny for our lives.  

There is often a cost or sacrifice with obedience, but it is always worth it. We can’t out give God! Obedience releases blessing in our lives, which is one reason why our heavenly Father encourages us to obey. He alone knows what’s best for us, and when we submit to Him, then we will receive His reward of abundance, having more than enough. 

“All true knowledge of God is born out of obedience.” 

John Calvin 

Relevant Reflections: 

  1. How have you experienced God’s abundance as a result from obeying Him? 
  2. In what area of sacrificial obedience, do you need hope? 

 

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Transition

 

“At the heart of every season of transition, whether you are a missionary or not, God is asking you, ‘Am I enough for you and will you trust Me?'”

James and Molly Bass

During this time of transition, the words to David Bowie’s song, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes,” keep circling my thoughts. Our transition, not only involves downsizing our house, but a move to Wichita, Kansas.

Any smooth transition requires acts of surrender and trust. The apostle Paul exemplified this in verses 22 and 24 of Acts chapter 20. “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

Paul’s life was guided and directed by the Holy Spirit. It didn’t matter where God took him because Paul had relinquished his rights and desires. The Holy Spirit compelled him to take the next step and Paul agreed to it so he could finish God’s assignment on earth.

Likewise, we’re being compelled by the Holy Spirit to move to Wichita. It’s as if we’re being sent. Wichita was never in our original plans and we have no idea what will happen to us there. But through the years, we’ve learned to trust our “Father knows best.” If God wants us to move, then we’re game. We’re dead to our own agenda and our desire is to complete His.

We want to be like pieces on God’s chess board, allowing Him to move and position us where He wants. When that happens, it always ends in checkmate – God wins and we win. We can’t lose when we obey our heavenly Father.

We’ve been processing our hearts, grieving our loss, and going through stages of surrender. We’ve landed at the place of trust, being on board for whatever God has for us. Our transition from Tucson to Omaha, twenty-eight years ago was scary to get out of our comfort zones and sad to leave our precious family and friends. So it will be again this time around. Our time here has been a gift to us and we trust Wichita will also be full of wonderful surprises as we hold tightly onto God’s hand.

“Sometimes God closes doors because it’s time to move forward. He knows you won’t move unless your circumstances force you. Trust the transition. God’s got you!”

Anonymous

Relevant Reflection:

How can you make your transition more smooth by surrendering and trusting God?

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Life’s Checklist

 

“Decisions become easier when your will to please God outweighs your will to please the world.”

Anonymous

 Being compliant makes it easy for me to be a people pleaser. I have lived a great portion of my life wanting to do what others asked me to do. More and more though, as my heart grows closer to God, I desire to be a God pleaser. Recently I read Titus 3:1-2: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”

The Apostle Paul penned those words to Titus. As a pastor, and spiritual father, Paul wanted his disciple to be aware of what behavior would please God. These verses convicted me as I asked myself, am I living like this?

  • Am I being under the power of those in authority over me? Am I obeying the rules of my government?
  • Am I prepared to do things which benefit others, even if it interrupts my plans? Am I focused on others more than myself?
  • Am I protecting others’ reputations with my speech? Am I affirming and building others up?
  • Am I amiable, inoffensive, and avoiding arguments?
  • Am I kind, thoughtful, and respectful of others’ feelings and rights? Do I seek to understand others by placing myself in their shoes?
  • Am I unassuming, meek, and putting others ahead of myself?

It’s obvious from these verses that God calls His children to live up to a higher standard and not to live like the world does. This is quite the list! In my flesh, I know I can’t perfectly live according to this checklist. I’m grateful though, that the Holy Spirit enables me with His grace to live this way, so that my life can be one which pleases God.

“If we displease God, does it matter whom we please? If we please Him does it matter whom we displease?”

Leonard Ravenhill

Relevant Reflection:

Which of the questions in the above checklist is your biggest struggle? Ask God to fill you with His grace to live a life which pleases Him.

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Grace Forfeited

 

“Idolatry: trusting people, possessions, and positions to do for me what only God can do.”

Bill Gothard

Idols come in various forms. They can be a hobby that consumes our time, finances, and focus. Possessions or positions, which make us feel significant, are also idols. Social media, gives us a false sense of closeness to people. As a child, I comforted myself by reading books. When I became anxious, I bit my nails. Occasionally I still run to the pantry when I’m stressed. There was a season when friendships played too important of a role in my life. I’m familiar with fearing man and wanting the approval of others, which are also signs of idolatry. Anything we go to, to meet a need in our hearts, instead of going to God, is an idol. When we replace God with an idol, we settle for less than second best. Idols are poor substitutes for God.

Even though Jonah was disobedient to God, we can still learn from his life. While Jonah was in the belly of a great fish, he prayed: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8). When we embrace other little gods to try and fill the void in our lives, to calm our anxiety, or comfort us in adversity, then we won’t experience enablement from God. God’s gift of grace is always waiting in the wings for us. But if we choose these other idols then we miss what could meet our needs. The choice is always up to us. We can either run to God for help that will satisfy and last, or we can run to our idols.

Almost thirty years ago, I coveted a cobalt blue cable sweater from Land’s End. It was too expensive for us to buy, but for Christmas, my parents sent me the money to purchase it. I remember being so excited and once I received it, it didn’t satisfy. Idols lie to us and say they’ll give us what we desire, but God is the only one who can do that. Only God can fill the void in our hearts and make us content.

Even this morning I chose to spend ten minutes with my Facebook idol, rather than listening to God speak to me. No one and nothing can give me intimacy and contentment, like God can. Idols won’t satisfy my longings, but God’s grace will always give me what I need, to empower me to do what He desires. Let’s not forfeit the grace of God for our worthless idols.

“The true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention.”

Timothy Keller

Relevant Reflections:

  1. What idols do you turn to for comfort, instead of God?
  2. Have they brought you lasting satisfaction?
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