Published Monday - Friday
It’s a world of oversharing. Sometimes I think we aim to please or impress our brothers and sisters in Christ subconsciously because that’s the culture we are immersed in. We share EVERYTHING on social media. I have heard people use terms like “Facebook official” or “Did it happen if you didn’t post about it?” I’m not sure a generation has craved as much attention as we do now. Jesus encouraged the opposite - He encouraged us to go to a secret place.
Matthew 6:6 says, ““But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (ESV). Not only did Jesus want to discourage us for doing things for the sake of being seen and applauded by our fellow man, but there are a multitude of benefits for having a secret place.
I encourage you to find your secret place! If you don’t already have this, I encourage you to find time to spend alone with the Lord. I know it’s hard. When I worked a 50+ hour a week job and took care of my daughter when I got off, I would go to a park on my lunch break and use that for my secret place. I’d spread out a blanket under a tree and read or write and pray, sometimes in my car if it rained. Whenever I didn’t make the time for this, my spirit began to feel run down, tired, and malnourished and I always would think of that phrase, “You cannot pour from an empty cup” and I always felt the Lord’s immediate response in my heart, “Katie, spend time with me. Just spend time with me.” And I would immediately think of that old hymn, “Fill my cup, Lord, I lift it up Lord”. So dear friends, find your secret place. Ask the Lord to fill your cup. Be genuine before Him. Block out the distractions. Don’t worry about the elaborate prayers and words and pray from your heart. The Lord wants you - genuinely and authentically you, to come before His throne boldly, to spend time with Him.
God is meant to be experienced. God is on the move. He is an active part of our lives. Sometimes though, we stop experiencing Him. We quit carving out time to spend in His presence. We quit carving out time to read our Bibles. We disconnect from the source. We check out. I think that is where the disconnect happens in spiritually sleeping, dry and hungry people, of which I have been the worst. I think that’s when doubt creeps in like weeds, choking our vines and keeping us from the Living Water we so desperately need to survive.
It’s been a very burdensome year for all of us, and I believe in those times it’s the easiest for the doubt to creep in. It’s the easiest for us to disconnect. Dear brothers and sisters, many of our deepest, life-changing experiences with the Lord have happened in the darkest valleys. May I also remind you that God does reward great faith, but He doesn’t punish the doubter. Many times in my life I’ve found myself in the position of the Apostle Thomas. It’s so easy in the flesh to take our eyes off of Jesus and focus on the world, where cynicism and despair can fill our hearts. Jesus was gentle with Thomas. He allowed him to experience Him deeper to dispel his doubt. “Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29 NIV).
Psalm 34:8, my favorite verse in the book of Psalms, says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him” (NIV). Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says on this passage, “34:1-10 If we hope to spend eternity in praising God, it is fit that we should spend much of our time here in this work. He never said to any one, Seek ye me in vain. David's prayers helped to silence his fears; many besides him have looked unto the Lord by faith and prayer, and it has wonderfully revived and comforted them. When we look to the world, we are perplexed, and at a loss. But on looking to Christ depends our whole salvation, and all things needful thereunto do so also. This poor man, whom no man looked upon with any respect, or looked after with any concern, was yet welcome to the throne of grace; the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The holy angels minister to the saints, and stand for them against the powers of darkness. All the glory be to the Lord of the angels. By taste and sight we both make discoveries, and have enjoyment; Taste and see God's goodness; take notice of it, and take the comfort of it. He makes all truly blessed that trust in Him.”
God’s goodness is not only something we experience in the peak moments of our lives. It’s something that God allows us to taste and see in the valleys. It’s something we can take comfort in. It’s something we can count on. It’s something we never have to doubt.
There’s an absolutely beautiful older song called “He Looked Beyond My Fault”. It sings:
“He looked beyond my faults and saw all my needs.
I shall forever lift my eyes to Calvary
to view the cross where Jesus died for me.
And how marvelous the grace that caught my falling soul...”
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Paul writes this. Paul, who persecuted and murdered Christians. Paul, who then experienced the fullness of the grace of God. Paul, who was not defined by his sin, but by his redemption because of the love of God.
Sin breaks the heart of God, and I wonder if sometimes part of the heartache is that we are choosing our chains over the victory over them. We are allowing them to be road blocks in our lives instead of redemption stories and songs of praise and victory. We are believing the lies of the enemy over the grace and love and forgiveness we read about daily.
Dear brothers and sisters, I encourage you to let go of the lies that tell you that you are used up, no good, too far gone. God places His treasures in jars of clay,
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Accept God’s forgiveness today. Don’t allow your past to be a road block to you. It’s not a road block to the Lord. His plan for your life is still good. Your purpose in the Kingdom is still there. You are a redemption story, not a lost cause.
I was just telling my husband the other day that it’s so difficult to find the truth these days. There are a lot of contradicting ideas in the news and social media. Now more than ever we need to pray for the kind of discernment only the Holy Spirit can place in our hearts. We were never meant to form opinions or follow teachers based on what the majority of men say. We need to listen to what the Holy Spirit is guiding our hearts toward and we need to be discerning with all things, using the Bible as the gold standard by which all things are measured.
Paul says this on this subject: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2). Friends, in this day and age where many Godly values and truths are mocked and looked down upon, stay strong. Do not allow yourself to be conformed to the world. If you make the world your home, it’ll be the only home you’ll ever know. You won’t be popular, you won’t be well liked by men for living according to the will of the Holy Spirit and preserving the kingdom values that are important to God, and Jesus said this plainly, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19).
James tells us that conforming to this world makes us an enemy of God: “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4). John writes: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-16).
Dear friends, in a world full of “likes”, a world that celebrates popularity in the form of social media influencers and the amount of friends one has, dare to be different. Don’t be influenced by anyone other than the Holy Spirit. Don’t believe anything you read over the Bible. Don’t allow yourself to conform to the world and please will your heart not to desire the praise and acceptance of men over the praise and acceptance of the one true God. And rejoice, even if you’re the only one standing in the truth because you are never alone and because of what Jesus said: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12).
My husband and I recently adopted two kittens as a surprise for my daughter. She has been asking for a pet for months now, specifically black or black and white kittens. We waited for a few months because we wanted to make sure we had the time off to help them acclimate to their new environment, wanted to make sure financially we could go out and purchase for them all the supplies they need (carriers, litter box, dishes, etc.) and we wanted to make sure that Lucy, our daughter, showed responsibility with taking care of a pet by using this neat virtual app I found where to simulates the experience of having to feed, play with, and care for an animal. All of these things aligned simultaneously this past weekend so we filled out the adoption form and waited on a call from the shelter. When we did get a call they had just received a litter of black kittens and wanted to know if we wanted two of those! We said yes immediately. Waiting was not easy for Lucy but the timing was perfect and our promise was 100% fulfilled, instead of half-fulfilled if we had tried to rush things.
How many times in our Christian walk have we tried to rush things? How many times have we trusted in our own timing more than the Lord’s and our hearts settled for half of a promise. I have good news for you today - God is not a “something is better than nothing” God. God is a Father who keeps His word and only asks us to trust in His wisdom, timing and provision. Please don’t mistake His perfect timing and His promise to fulfill His promises as unnecessary delay.
Joshua 21:45 says, “Not one of all the Lord’s food promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” Because of Christ’s death on the cross, we have been grafted in to Abraham’s family and inheritors of the promise. “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29).
Joshua 23:14 says, “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”
Jeremiah 1:12 says, “The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”
Lamentations 2:17 says, “The Lord has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his word, which he decreed long ago…”
Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
These verses all tell us the same thing - God does not break a promise. If you’re waiting to see a promise or prophecy over your life fulfilled, don’t settle in your heart for less-than. Don’t take matters into your own hands. God is a Father of His word. He is not delaying. He is not deferring your hope. Everything is going according to plan.
Our words are powerful. Words today seem to be used to shout one’s opinion over all the rest. This world is so preoccupied with expressing yourself. As nice as that sounds, that’s not why we are here. We are here to express Christ in us to a broken world. Words are a powerful tool we have been given. Words can speak life, hope, and joy to a world that is full of death, decay, and despair. I’ve been studying Proverbs today and there are so many wonderful verses that discuss this very thing.
Proverbs 11:9 - “Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.”
Proverbs 15:1 - “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.”
Proverbs 15:4 - “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
Proverbs 16:24 - “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Proverbs 18:4 - “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”
Proverbs 18:20 - “Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.”
James 3:9-12 says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
I challenge you this week to only allow praise, life-giving and sweet-as-honey words flow from your mouth. It’s going to take self-control (this is a fruit of the Spirit for a reason!), it’s going to take stopping yourself. It’s going to take studying the Word. To reflect Jesus we need to know Him well. How would He react? What would He say? What DID He say? The best life-giving words are directly from the Bible.
The Bible also says as you do this, your own soul will receive the life-giving encouragement you are giving to others. “Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.” (Proverbs 11:17).
What are ways you can speak life to your family, friends, coworkers, or church family this week? What are ways you can correct areas in your life where previously you spoke with spite, hate or anger to bring the life-giving words of the Lord to those situations?
My one-year-old son has been going through a separation anxiety phase. If I leave the room or disappear from his sight in the slightest, he’s crying and looking for me. His tearful “Mama” just breaks my heart for him every time. When his eyes are on me, all is well. What divine lessons this phase of his has been teaching me, bringing me closer to the Lord.
If only we had the kind of desperation babies have for their mothers for our Heavenly Father. If only we were that hungry for His presence. If only we realized much like my son Oliver does daily, that I was near all along and so the Lord is to us. Proverbs 18:24 says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Dear reader, as we enter into the weekend I challenge you to step back when possible and press into His presence. He sticks closer than a brother, He is near even when we don’t realize it. Renew your desperation for Him. Your life will be greatly enriched when lived wholly in His presence.
We can easily become spiritually lukewarm in this day and age. I think there have all been times that we kept the Good News we have silent and we tiptoed around hot topics so as not to offend anyone instead of clearly and boldly teaching what the Bible says about it.
Jesus taught with authority. “And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” (Mark 1:21-22). The scribes and other teachers of that day would quote other teachers and read the text. Jesus was different. He spoke with the authority of God Himself. He lived what He taught. He spoke at their level, applied His teachings to their every day lives.
His authority and example give us all the confidence we need to teach boldly. It’s imperative that we do. We represent Jesus to a broken world. If Jesus has not been bold, if He’d tiptoed around all of the rules, we wouldn’t be saved today. What if He’d decided not to heal someone on the Sabbath? What if He’d decided not to say anything or do anything to upset the religious leaders at the time? They wouldn’t have tried to have Him killed and we would have no hope. We must ask ourselves this then - if we tiptoe around the truth, if we keep the gospel quiet, who are we denying salvation from today because we are timid?
If you’re in need of some inspiration in being bolder, read Paul’s letters, especially those to Timothy! There are so many great truths there for teaching boldly:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:6-10).
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)
Father, I ask forgiveness for moments I have been ashamed of the gospel, moments I have been lukewarm. I want to please you above men. I want to speak boldly and proclaim the Gospel, the Good News, to everyone I encounter. Help me to understand Your word, help me to teach and correct with love. In Jesus Name, Amen.
It’s a divided world we live in. It seems arguments are more prevalent than regular conversations in many cases. Hostility is the tone of a generation and I believe that this grieves the heart of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Matthew 5:38-40 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”
Judges in this time and culture did indeed use the code of “An eye for eye and tooth for tooth” for serious crimes that made it to trial, but the Jews at this time brought this ideology into their more trivial personal matters. It sounds familiar right? Our flesh cannot stand not having the last word, not fighting back, not getting revenge. We do these things in the name of justice, but may I remind you, dear friend, of Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Just a few verses later in Matthew 5:44-45 Jesus says, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus preached a truly unconditional love. It’s so easy to say we love someone unconditionally, but that isn’t always entirely true, is it? The minute we have a falling out or a fight with a friend, the minute we enter into an argument, we don’t show love, we show hate. We show hostility and the desire for revenge. Jesus challenges us to love even when it hurts, even when it doesn’t make sense, even when it disagrees with our flesh, even when we are not loved in return. If the kind of love we are showing others stops the minute they sin or commit an offense against us, we aren’t loving with the love of God. We are loving with a cheap, earthly version of love. If God loved us with the kind of love we often give from our flesh, we would be lost.
Jesus modeled this love for us on the cross. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” A direct correlation to what Jesus says about love in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.”
We cannot evangelize with our lives, we cannot show people the love of Christ, if we are only outwardly practicing the desires of our flesh. I encourage you this week to think of these verses when you’re presented with challenges. When you’re presented with the temptation to have the last word, to trade an eye for an eye, to “get even” or get revenge, choose unconditional love. Everyone you encounter is someone that is fearfully and wonderfully made, loved unconditionally, and paid for by the blood of Jesus just like you are. We are charged by Jesus to love them, to turn the other cheek, to practice 70x7 forgiveness.
Isaiah 26:3-4: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (ESV).
There are going to be times in life where the road ahead is a dark one. There will be times in life where it’s time to accept the challenges and the trials. There will be times where we have to go through the fire. Maybe your fire looks like struggling family members, maybe it looks like financial stress, the death of a loved one, chronic illness, etc. Our first instinct in many of these seasons, I being the most guilty of all, will immediately be, “Why, Oh God, are You allowing this to happen?” or, “What did I do to deserve this?”
For the latter, the same question can be applied to the Lord’s blessings. What did we do to deserve those? The answer to that is - absolutely nothing. The answer to the same question when it comes to our trials and valleys? We truly deserved much worse. Romans 4:25 says, “He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.” Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (NLT). Jesus Christ bore all that we truly deserved, and although His death on the cross did not free us from the troubles of this world, it did secure our victory over them. John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV).
The first question: “Why, Oh God, are you allowing this to happen?” is perhaps more commonly asked, and more painfully asked by us when our spirits are weary and broken, when God seems silent and life is spinning far outside of any illusion we ever had of control. Charles F Stanley said in his book “Every Day in His Presence”: “When God calls you to a task or allows a trial, He assumes full responsibility for removing the hindrances that would keep you from succeeding. Therefore, you must respond in faith.” God does not author the trouble in our lives, but when it happens, He is there for us. He hurts with us, and He works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
The next time you find yourself accepting a new challenge, the next time you find yourself in serious hardship, I encourage you to have faith all the more. It might not agree with what the world says, what logic says, what fear says, and those voices all seem so much louder than a still, small voice, but it will agree with what the Bible says. We can have faith in a God who has won the victory, who has overcome all the trouble we will ever experience in this world. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”