I have fallen more times than I care to admit. Fallen into a "little" sin that seemed to creep in without me realizing it. Fallen quietly without anyone noticing but me.
But other falls?
They have been not so tiny. They have been not so private. And they have been not so quiet.
We all fall.
And whether our "fall" is quiet or deafening, whether it is gradual or rapid, whether it is private or public - the exposing of it can leave us feeling raw; vulnerable; ashamed. Sometimes even hopeless.
I imagine that's how the adulteress felt in John 8 (take a moment to read this chapter if you haven't before). She was a woman caught in the midst of her sin of adultery. Brought by the teachers of the law and the Pharisees to the temple where Jesus was teaching. Brought into the crowd. Brought to a public place. Possibly physically uncovered and exposed. Most certainly emotionally raw, and vulnerable. And more than that I am sure she felt...
Her sin was proclaimed in front of everyone she knew - neighbors, peers, perhaps even family and friends.
And then, while probably in the most humiliating and regretful moment of her life...she was placed in front of, perhaps even thrown at, the feet of Jesus.
Our own sin can place us here as well. When the mask is ripped off, when its revealed, when we no longer can run from it...we often find ourselves at the feet of Jesus.
There in that place, a place she could not run from, turn from, or hide from, they asked Jesus what her punishment should be.
A question we perhaps ask Him in this place too. When we uncover the sin of others. When our own sin in uncovered.
The Mosaic Law stated she should be stoned for her adultery.
I imagine her breathing was labored, or maybe it even stopped for a moment, as she waited with trepidation for the death sentence she anticipated. A feeling many of us can relate to as we feel our own mistakes are beyond repair. A sinking feeling deep in our soul.
And as she was before Jesus, eyes perhaps pleading for mercy, she did not hear the words, "stone her". No, such punitive words did not come from Jesus. Instead, He bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground twice and said this....
John 8:6-8 NIV
"But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground."
Not one of them was sinless.
And each one left without casting a stone.
After they had all gone, the woman, whom I am sure felt tattered and broken and alone, was left there with Jesus. It was there is that space, in that chasm of brokenness, frailty and humiliation, that she was forgiven. Forgiveness didn't need to be spoken from her peers, her neighbors, or the Pharisees. Nor did it need to spoken in front of them. It needed to be spoken in that moment when it was just her and Jesus. A moment in which she saw Him and nothing else. A moment when everything else around her stilled except the beat of her heart as she waited to hear what her redeemer would say. A forgiveness that came from HIM.
And we, when we are left alone with Jesus, whether the world has cast stones at us or not, whether we have cast them at ourselves.....we, when we are left alone with Jesus, with just our repentant, exposed hearts....we are forgiven too.
I have been at the feet of Jesus. Broken. Ashamed. Exposed.
I have been at the feet of Jesus waiting for an answer. And He has lifted me up off my knees with His love and redemption. And He will do this for you, too.
I don't know what Jesus wrote on the ground. The passage does not tell us this. But I imagine it was one of the following words, words that your heart may need whispered to it today:
Whatever it was He wrote...it was erased. Erased by Jesus himself, erased by the wind, erased by the trampling of feet or by time.
But these words? GRACE. FORGIVEN. LOVED. REDEEMED. Hear them today.
These words? When He writes them on our hearts as we seek forgiveness from Him?
They are not written in dust or dirt, but with the redemptive power of the cross! And that cannot be erased!
Whatever it is you have been afraid to expose, whatever you might think is unredeemable, whatever hurts to lay bare....lay it at the feet of Jesus. Place it at the cross. For Jesus didn't ask the adultress why she did what she did. He didn't ask what else she had done. He didn't ask her what she could have done to prevent the sin. He simply said,
“Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11 NIV)
I hope the woman was able to leave that sin there in the very spot it was exposed. I hope she stepped out into a new life that reflected a redemptive light and a changed heart.
Because it is my hope for each of us. A hope that we accept the beautiful, free gift that cost Jesus so much. A hope that we accept the forgiveness that He offers, that we embrace a new heart and a new start; stepping into a life that seeks to live righteously-casting off the past to be deeply rooted in Christ.
1 Peter 1:18-19
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."
Have you ever faced a battle that seemed impossible? One you haven't felt equipped or strong enough for? Perhaps you have faced several. I encourage you to reflect upon those times as you read along....
Let me tell you a brief story about Jonathan. He was Saul's son. And in 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan, along with his armor bearer and against great odds, attacked the philistine army. It was an impossibility for the two of them to have victory over this army, but regardless, they left the safety of Saul's camped army and set out on their own. They left the camp, a camp of men who were afraid to go into battle, and set out in faith. Faith that God would guide them and give them victory. Faith that the battle they were headed into could not be too big for God.
And God? Well He proved them right and honored their faith with an amazing victory!
But what if Jonathan had not had this faith? What if, he had stayed in Saul's camp, afraid and unmoving? What if we, ourselves, stay unmoving. What if we stay where we are and do not step out in faith?
Some battles are never won, not because they can't be won, but because we stay in the safe confines of our "camp".
Some battles we don't see victory over because we skirted around them and never really entered into the battle to begin with.
And other battles, well, some we decide to battle ourselves instead of trusting in God and letting Him be the warrior for us.
What battles are before you? Will you stay in the camp, where fear abounds and the battles looms above you? Where your feet retreat or lead their own way or not move at all? Or will you leave the camp of fear and head into battle with faith like Jonathan? Will you move from the camp, allowing God to guide you into the battle with patience, discernment, trust and victory?
What will you choose today?
For those of you who may have missed it or have not signed up to receive free devotionals, I am sharing Day One of this year's (2019) free Christmas email Devotional Study here with you! Read on for some faith encouragement, not only for the holidays, but for every day. To receive future free devotional studies, you can click the below! Read on and I hope it blesses you...
The Passage: Matthew 2:1-3 NIV
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
Great power does not equal great peace.
Great wealth, kingdoms, and worldly acquisitions do not equal peace either.
Herod was disturbed.
Because Herod was missing something.
Because despite all his power and wealth, Herod didn't have peace.
Being part Jewish, Herod surely knew the prophecy of the Old Testament, and knew about the Messiah. Surely he knew the Jews expected that the Messiah was coming soon (Luke 3:15) and that they expected Him to be a great military leader and political deliverer. The coming of the Messiah, in his worldly knowledge, threatened his kingdom, his power, his wealth. Because no matter how many buildings he built or temples he erected, they couldn't bring him peace. He knew they were not indestructible. That He was not unconquerable. The foundation of his peace was built on the wrong "material". So when the Maji came with their questions, the heart of Herod was easily disturbed and threatened
When - that job, that house, that child, that spouse, that friend, that amount of money, that dress, that vacation - makes us think it will bring us peace?
When the foundation of our security, our dependence, our happiness is on ourselves and/or the world?
Peace will always elude us.
Circumstances will cause us to be anxious, disturbed.
But when our foundation is Christ?
When we are rooted in the assurance that God is in control?
When we have the expectation that God's plan is better than our own?
When we choose to value His love, and his redemptive work in our hearts above all else?
When we have this kind of foundation....then, when we hear the Messiah is coming -we rejoice! We are not threatened by the "what ifs". We run to meet him. Arms outstretched. Heart wide open.
When our foundation is built on solid ground - the Word of God - and constructed with materials that are rooted in who Christ is and who He says we are? When we fully and wholly understand and accept that WE are the temple of the Lord and the Holy Spirit now dwells in us?
Then we stand firm, knowing that the structures of our peace can not be rocked.
Cannot be moved.
That our crown, while it may be knocked crooked at times, cannot be removed.
That, despite the holiday season not turning out as expected, despite missing a loved one, despite all the things on our "to- do" list we feel we need to do....we are not overwhelmed. We are not disturbed. We find a peace amongst the disturbance. A peace that defies our understanding. And therefore, our souls rejoice! For He has come and He will come again.
And if in this holiday season, or in this current season of life, our foundation feels disturbed, our faith seems shaky, our crown has been knocked crooked, and all are hopes are resting in temporary buildings of this world? Search, in prayer and reflection, and begin to build a stronger foundation, perhaps even a new foundation. One not built of stone or wood, but of a baby born in a manager, of a blood stained cross, and of a grave that overcomes even death.
"They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built." Luke 6:48
1. Is peace eluding you this holiday season? This season of life your currently in? If so, take an inventory of the foundation of your heart. Is it made with discontentment? Fear? Pride? Insecurity?
2. What temporary "band-aids" from this world are you applying to your life? Are you seeking peace from them? Why do you think that is?
3. Herod not only had the wrong kind of foundation in the life he had built, but he also built pagan temples along with the rebuilding the temple of the Lord. Take a moment to reflect on your own life. Is Jesus truly the most important? Does he come first, or are there other "temples" that you have constructed around you? Temples that you look to more that Jesus for peace, for joy, for contentment? How do you think these affect the way circumstances or trials "disturb" you when they occur?
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To read another post from a past Christmas Devotional Series, click this link...
As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, I feel it is the perfect time to not only share a tasty Gingerbread Hot Chocolate recipe, but also take a moment to remind you and me that there is more to celebrate than just His birth but to also rejoice for He will come again in greater glory! Read on for a short devotional and to get the recipe...
Luke 12:40 NIV
"You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
The arrival of a notable person, thing or event. An appearance. An emergence. A birth.
That is how the English dictionary describes the word "Advent".
It is a season that is observed by many Christians. It leads up to the Christmas season and is a time of expectancy, anticipation, and preparation. A waiting period for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Advent is a reminder of what God has done and what He will do. A time to remember the longing and waiting that God's people did until finally a baby was born in a manger. Immanuel. God with us. But Advent is also a time to remember that Jesus will come again (Jesus tells us He will). And we will not know the year, the day, the hour.
Our Lord and Savior.
Oh, how we prepare to celebrate!
We put up lights and trees. We buy gifts and wrap them in pretty packages. We watch movies and make cookies. We gather with family and friends. And hopefully we take time to read the Christmas story, to reflect on what Jesus' birth really means, to praise God for sending His son, to fully understand what this celebration means for you, for me, and to spend some time in prayer .
But as the Christmas season leaves, and we take our trees down, put the lights away, finish the last of the cookies and gather for the final time this season...what do we do then?
God prepared His people for Jesus. For the coming of Christ. Sometimes His people actively participated, sometimes not so much. He is preparing us too. Preparing us for the second coming of Christ. The fulfillment of this promise. Sometimes we actively participate. Sometimes not so much.
Celebrations are wonderful and important and beautiful, but our preparing should not stop when the Christmas season is over. Let Advent, let Christmas, be a reminder to each of us to continually prepare our hearts. To spiritually prepare every day for the moment when Jesus returns. Because Jesus will arrive again, He will appear. He will emerge. And we will not know the year, the day, the hour. Will our hearts be focused on Him in the anticipation of that moment when it comes? Will we be prepared?
Let's have an advent heart, not just this season, but every single day.
Gingerbread Hot Chocolate
6 cups of milk (your choice of 1%, 2% or whole)
8 ounces chocolate chips (more if desired)
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I like hershey's but any kind will do)
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (to your liking)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp molasses
3 tsp ground ginger
1/4-1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
Whipped Cream (optional)
Candy Cane (optional)
Gingerbread Cookies (optional)
1. Mix the milk, powder, spices, molasses and sugar in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.
2. Stir until all ingredients are dissolved. Do not let the milk boil!
3. Mix in chocolate chips, whisk until smooth
4. Top with either whip cream or marshmallows if desired.
5. Add a candy cane if desired and serve with gingerbread cookies if you have them.
6. Sip and enjoy!
I am so glad you stopped by! Your can find more "Mornings With Jesus" and other hot chocolate recipes by clicking the link below.
Mornings with Jesus are back! A little later than usual this season, but better late than never!
Recently, I walked through some difficult seasons of wrestling, and in one of those seasons, the following verse and passage really spoke to my heart. I hope it does the same to you. And well, who doesn't love some Cinnamon Caramel Hot Chocolate? Check out the recipe below!
So go make your favorite hot chocolate, grab a blanket, curl up in your favorite spot, and keep reading for a little faith encouragement this morning.
The Passage: Hebrews 12:11
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
Our prayers move the heart of God.
Did you know that?
Sometimes those prayers come after a difficult season, not before. Some of those prayers are born out of poor decisions we have made, out of trials we are suffering, out of circumstances that bring us back to the Lord or circumstances that shed light on sin. Prayers that bloom out of important lessons. Training that brings us strength. Training that grows peace in the very depths of our soul. Training that builds faith that could not be built quite the same under other circumstances.
These prayers not only move the heart of God. They change us.
And there is not one of us that cannot be changed.
Yes, discipline, training, trials, they are painful, oftentimes VERY painful. But what happens when we turn to a Mighty God out of our own stubborness and willfulness, or out of a painful is situation, is change. A change that glorifies our Father, our Creator, our Teacher.
Let's look at Manessah, in 2 Chronicles 33, who became king when he was 12 and did evil in the eyes of the Lord. I think it is probably safe to say that our list of transgressions aren't quite like his....
- he erected altars to the pagan idol Baal
- he bowed down and worshiped the starry hosts and actually built temples to them in the Lord's temple
- he rebuilt the high places that his father had demolished
- he sacrificed his own children in the fire
- he practiced divination and witchcraft
- he led the people of Judah astray...so much so, that they ended up doing more evil than the nations that went up against the Israelites - you know, the nations God destroyed.
Now, we might not be sacrificing our children or practicing witchcraft, but we certainly do sin at times, often we can have our own "idols", and sometimes we can be like Manasseh in this regard:
When God spoke to Manasseh and the people of Judah, they didn't listen.
Sometimes we don't listen either.
So, what did God do? He brought up Assyria against them. The commanders took Mannessah prisoner. They put a hook in his nose. They shackled him. They took him to Babylon.
And there in his captivity and his distress, Manasseh sought God's favor. The Bible tells us Manasseh humbled himself before God and prayed.
And his prayers moved the heart of God.
Manasseh's prayers, a man who murdered his own children, who openly and defiantly brought idols into the Lord's temple, who led God's people to become worse and worse...those prayers moved the heart of God.
And Manasseh changed.
He was eventually brought back to Jerusalem. He then got rid of all the foreign gods, removed the idols from the temple, rebuilt the wall, restored the altar of the Lord, began offering fellowship and thank offerings, and told Judah to serve the Lord.
Trials, suffering, discipline, they all lead Manasseh to seek God, humble himself, and pray. They do the same for us. And in those seasons, those times, our prayers - though sometimes we may feel they go unheard- DO move the heart of God. Those prayers, prayed through humility, start to change US. And we then begin to take down our own idols, we restore fellowship with Jesus, we start to rebuild our faith, we become thankful, and we start to serve the Lord with our whole hearts.
Yes, no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but it does produce a harvest. A harvest that brings righteousness and peace for those who allow themselves to be trained by it.
Whatever season your in, whatever trials you are facing, whatever suffering is knocking at your door, whether it is discipline or something that has just happened to you, there is a lesson that can be born out of it all. Will you allow the training to begin? Will you allow it to humble you? Will you fall to your knees in prayer?
Today, let's take a moment to reflect and move the heart of God with our prayers.
Check out the recipe below!
Cinnamon Caramel Hot Chocolate
- your favorite cup of hot chocolate
- ground cinnamon
- caramel sauce
-chocolate chips (milk or dark chocolate), if desired
-marshmallows, if desired
1. Make your cup of hot chocolate the way you that you usually do.
2. Add a pinch of ground cinnamon, a spoonful (or two) of caramel sauce, and 1/8 cup of milk chocolate (or dark chocolate) chips if you want a richer chocolate taste.
3. Mix well and heat if not already hot
4. Add a cinnamon stick.
5. Top with marshmallows and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon if desired.
6. Sip and enjoy!
Your can find more Mornings With Jesus here:
There is one meal I will never forget.
Italian relatives. Do you have them? If you do, you probably understand. This meal was set before us by my Grandfather's cousin. And it wasn't just A meal. I don't remember how many courses there were, but I do know we sat at the table ALL day and into early evening. Course after course after course. There was time to rest inbetween (in which light desserts and snacks were served), but then another course would come out - homemade ravioli or other filling pasta dishes. And when I felt full and couldn't eat another bite? I'd hear "manjia, manjia". And I would find some way to stuff a little more food into my belly so I didn't offend my hostess. And by the very end of that "meal", when the best dessert came out....I couldn't eat a bite of it....
Life can kind of be like that array of Italian food and one long meal.
Displayed in front of us are these things that we "fill" ourselves up with. Some of them good, and some maybe not so healthy. And when we start feeling like maybe we don't have any room left for more of the world, there is a voice that says, "manjia, manjia" (eat!eat!) - eat more of what the world has for us. And so we do. Perhaps because we don't want to miss out, maybe because we think it will satisfy, and sometimes because we don't want to offend anyone.
But what happens when we "eat" so much of the world that our "bellies" become stuffed, we have no room left for Jesus. We save Jesus as the dessert instead of the main course. We feast on everything else, and then try to squeeze time with Jesus in at the very end. Oftentimes, we then find ourselves too tired, too overloaded, too drained, or too stuffed. Just like I couldn't take a bite of that delicious dessert in front of me, we find ourselves not able to partake in the peace and comfort and relationship that can be found in Jesus.
So this season, when we are planning meals, gathering with family and eating all those filling foods...take a moment to stop. Sit at the table with Jesus first. Eat a meal with Him. Take in the bread He is offering you and satisfy your hunger.
I don't want to run out of room for Jesus, and I doubt you do either.
"Give us today our daily bread."
"Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."
Want to dig a little deeper into Jesus being the Bread of our lives? Look up the verses below!
Scroll on down to see my fall tablescape this year for our family Sunday suppers....
Note: Designing tablescapes is one of my FAVORITE things to do, but don't let having the "perfect" setting stop you from having friends and neighbors over! The important thing is to make a place at the table for those whom you will bless with food, and community, and encouragement and love.
Each fall for the past few years I have been searching for just the "right" pumpkin plates and finally found them at Pier 1 (not an affiliate). I liked pairing them with old glasses I had (the brown ones) and the yellow glasses that I had found years ago at Goodwill.
I am so glad you meet me here and spent some time at the table with me. May you fill your plate of life with more and more of Jesus. And whatever season you are in right now, take time to invite someone to your table...let them know there is a place for them.
For more of the "At The Table" series, click below!
For those of you who were not able to sign up in time for the 2019 spring devotional series...here is a little snippet I wanted to share with you from "Day One".
I hope it blesses you!
(From Day One of the "Breaking Chains" Email Devotional Series)
The Caged Bird
The Passage: Acts 16:22-23 NIV
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.
Sometimes we are wrongly accused, and sometimes rightly so...
by what we have done
what we didn't do
what we could never do
what we should do
what we want to do
what we feel
what we have suffered
what we have done to cause others to suffer
Those accusations and sufferings, from ourselves and from others, are often the prisons in which our chains are eventually fastened to.
Jesus tells us in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
The real thief is not the one who is being flogged.
The real thief steals hope. Steals freedom. The real thief is the one, the thing, that throws us into the prison...
Did you know that many birds that are caged have clipped wings so that they cannot fly? Many of those that are bred to be sold, have their wings clipped at an early age. Their wings are often trimmed and cut in a certain way that causes unbalanced flight. It not only keeps them captive to their perch but also ends up teaching them not to rely on their wings.
Maya Angelou wrote a poem called, "Caged Bird". A few lines of this poem really stood out to me:
"The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom."
The caged bird.
We can be that caged bird, can't we?
Caged. Imprisoned. Flogged. Beat. Before the chains are even put on.
Longing for something, perhaps unknown, to break us from the prison we are in.
Longing for a freedom our heart tells us exists, but perhaps seems out of reach.
That longing exists because we believe the lies.
That longing exists because we believe we are stuck on our perch.
We forget the promises.
Our wings are clipped.
The "real thief" clips our wings, to unbalance our flight;our faith. Trimming here and there, impressioning upon us the message that we can't fly. That we are stuck on our perch. That our wings cannot be relied upon.
And there is truth to that. Why? Because our own wings will never make us fly or break us out of the cage or the prison we are in.
But the good news? We are not birds. We are not bound by physical wings that cannot be grown back. We are not bound, because we have other wings that are not our own. No, we are not birds. We are children of God. And we are given new wings. And those wings are Christ.
The prisons in our own lives, whether a place you spend a little or a lot of time in, or a place you visit when no one is looking...there is nothing of God there, friend. Rewrite the message your clipped wings have taught you.
True freedom comes with truly believing with our hearts that Christ's redemptive work on the cross covers all we have done or will do- ALL of it.
True freedom comes when we believe that we are not who the world says we are, or who the thief tries to convince us we are, but rather we are who Christ says we are.
So if you are there, just thrown into a "prison" of this life; wings recently clipped, or if you have been awaiting trial there on your perch for quite some time...I hope you will join me again tomorrow as we dig a little deeper into those chains that get fastened in those prisons...
Today is the day to no longer let the thief steal what Christ has already given you: new wings, freedom, and a way to break the chains
Believe and know the promises each of us are given...
Begin to write them on your heart today.
We are promised
God will fight for us
God gives strength to the weary
Those who hope in the Lord will soar on wings of eagles
God helps us
We are not alone
God's love for us cannot be shaken
God's Word is not chained
2 Timothy 2:9
There is release from darkness for prisoners
When we submit ourselves to God, and resist the devil, he will flee
God forgives and purifies us when we confess our sin
1 John 1:9
When we pray He hears us
2 Chronicles 7:14
The Lord goes before us
We are loved
We will be free indeed
*If you would like to sign up to receive future devotional studies, click below!
The next devotional series starts in October-more info to come soon.
Fear. We all know it. We all experience it.
Is it standing in your way today? Is it there alongside you? Are you ready to say goodbye to it?
Whether you have some fear in your heart right this moment, or if you will ever fear in the future, let me send a little encouragement, because I know fear well.
Fear and I have been good friends.....
Years ago, late at night, my house was intentionally shot at.
That specific night, I had decided to sleep on the couch instead of my bed. I woke up to the loud bang of bullets spewing into our bedroom, my bed, the basement, and our car. My daughter, two-years-old at the time, lay asleep on the other side of my room in her crib. I praised God that day (and still do) that I wasn't in that bed and that the shooter didn't target my daughter's room instead. But despite praising Him, fear settled in.
Fear comes in so many forms and in so many ways, but when fear settles in, it is hard to remove it.
So, yes, fear and I got to know each other really well.
After that incident, fear walked out of the house each day with me.
Fear looked with me around every corner.
Fear helped me scrutinize every car that drove by or slowed down in front of my house.
Fear slept with me each night, keeping me from sleeping in my bed. It told me to no longer let my daughter sleep alone. Told me it was safer for us to sleep on the floor, keeping myself in front of her, my back to the outside wall.
And fear was right there when we sold that house.
I'd like to say fear and I ended our friendship when we sold the house, but the truth is fear was my friend before the shooting, and would be after as well. Because what I feared greatest was being vulnerable. Even vulnerable with God.
Especially vulnerable with God.
I feared letting our God, who knows my every thought anyway, know that I even had fear. Like He didn't already know....
I feared letting God take over.
God. You know, the one who created the heavens and earth. The one who is completely faithful. God, the one who sent His Son to die for me, and for you, because He loves us that much. Our God....with the mightiest of hands, the greatest of plans, the ultimate triumpher, the Great I Am....I feared Him taking over. The truth is, I think every fear I ever had stemmed from that. Because for some reason, my flesh wanted control and thought I knew best. I had built, what I felt, were impenetrable walls around me. Walls to keep the fear out. When in reality fear lived inside them.
And I am not the only one that has been friends with fear.
We all experience it. We fear...
Of not being enough
and so much more....
Fear, it makes us reluctant to step into our calling, to love fully, to have peace, to remember we are God's children. It stops us from fully embracing freedom in Christ.
If there is anything that you fear today, write this on your heart: Fear is not from God. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Let me repeat that again. Fear is not of God. But do you know what is of God?....
Strength. Forgiveness. Healing. Love. A Spirit of power. Courage. Hope. A future.
When fear lives alongside us, we miss out on being a part of that redemptive piece of work in God's great plan that we are being called to. And to be a part of that, my friend, is such a great blessing. To be a part of that is what we are called to be. To be a part of that is what we were created for.
Standing at the foot a mountain, on the verge of a battle, the edge of the unknown, or behind a closed door...we have a choice. A choice to keep fear in our circle of friends. Or to tell fear he is no longer welcome there. A choice to replace fear with God's Word. A choice to believe that God is truly with us. A choice to trust Him.
God is bigger than any fear. He is bigger than that fear standing in our way right now. And what God has waiting for us when we say good-bye to fear? It's greater than we can imagine!
Whatever house fear is keeping you in, step out of it. Stop sleeping on the floor.
Let God fight for you today.
Tell fear to find a different friend.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you."
This is the last "Mornings With Jesus" for the season (but more recipes return in fall!).
Normally, I share a promise from the New Testament along with a hot chocolate recipe, however, today, it was on my heart to share an important command Jesus gives us. A command to love. Love God. And love one another.
So grab your favorite mug, try this recipe (or file it away for later), curl up in your favorite spot, and while sipping your warm morning drink, soak in this precious passage...
When asked what the most important commandment was, Jesus said...
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 NIV
Love your neighbor.
Loving God will be a whole other post. But today, my heart is focused on loving your neighbor.
Notice, Jesus doesn't say love those who look like you, talk like you, believe what you do, live like you do, go to your church, have the same social status, have certain backgrounds, or even have similar cultures. He simply says your neighbor.
He doesn't refer to a certain race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or social status. He doesn't refer to those with few mistakes or many.
No, Jesus just says "your neighbor".
The definition of a neighbor is a person living near or next to you. A person that is next to another. Essentially, a person around us, in our midst. Physically, and in today's world, I believe that means virtually as well.
I wonder how well we are doing that?
This verse has been on my heart greatly as it breaks for all the violence, hate, anger, and unkindness I see on the news and even in my own community. It breaks for all the negative, demeaning, and hurtful comments that abound on social media as well.
So not only do I ask, how are "we" doing with loving our neighbors well, but how am "I" doing this? I encourage you to ask yourself the same.
Jesus came for everyone of us. EVERY ONE OF US.
Even that person you disagree with.
Even that person who hurt you.
Even that person who is different than you.
Even the hard to love.
We are called to love. Love in the image of God. Love those who around you.
Love one another.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV
We can spread love by talking about it, yes. But the best way to spread love is in action. To demonstrate our love for God is to actually put that love into action. The action of loving His people. The action of loving one another. The action of loving our neighbor. Even the unlovable one.
So I challenge you today. And tomorrow. And the next day and the next.
Smile at a stranger.
Do something kind for someone who is different than you.
Go out of your way to say "hi" or speak to someone that you have seen before but never spoken to.
Introduce yourself to those who are sitting alone.
Speak words that are not laced with anger or unkindness.
Help someone who may need a meal, or a driveway shoveled.
Be a part of a conversation that starts change rather than one that builds more walls.
Have coffee with old friends. Listen.
Stretch your comfort zone to love your neighbors.
Our neighbors are all around us. Let's love them well. By doing so, it is one way of loving God. By doing so, when asked how well we are loving our neighbor, we can say, "better than yesterday".
Then love one another.
"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."
1 John 4:16
Irish Creme Hot Chocolate
1 cup milk
Hot chocolate mix (your favorite mix)
1/8 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup Irish Creme creamer (more or less to taste)
Whip cream (if desired)
Sprinkles (if desired)
1. Mix your favorite chocolate mix with your cup of milk.
2. Warm on the stove top or in the microwave.
3. Add the chocolate chips and Irish Cream creamer. Mix in until chocolate chips are completely melted. Warm a little more if needed.
4. Top with whip cream and sprinkles (if desired)
5. Sip and enjoy!
For more hot chocolate recipes....
You can follow my pinterest board "Hot Chocolate and Jesus"....
Sometimes life throws us curve balls. There are mountains looming in front of us we never saw coming and floods that overcome us without warning. Life is hard. But there is hope and there is purpose.
Winter doesn't appear to be winding down around here, but it is....so I am sharing this Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate recipe as one of the last "Mornings With Jesus" this season. Let it remind you of the promise below when you get stuck in life's curve balls and need some light to focus on. So read on and then go make yourself a cup of hot chocolate (or your favorite warm drink), grab a blanket, and encounter this beautiful promise.....
“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."
Often, we can't see how those things will together for good, not even with our wildest imaginations.
That highest mountain? Perhaps it is not about the mountain itself, but the journey. That flood? Sometimes it may be less about our story and more about someone else's.
If we look back, we can see that God has grown us or blessed us along many of the journeys we have encountered in unexpected ways. Some lessons we may not have been willing to embrace. We may have been stubborn to learn them. Others, our hearts may have been teachable and our eyes open to the abundance of good things we have seen even in the storm.
But in some floods, the truth is: we may never see how God is working things out for good this side of glory. That doesn't mean He is not working behind the scenes. It does not mean His not walking beside us. It does not mean He is not using it for a purpose.
Take heart in this promise.
It does not say some things work together for good to those who love God.
It says ALL things work together for good to those who love God.
Whatever you are going through today it CAN and WILL be used for good!
God will use it all for His purpose whether we choose to be a part of the process or not, but when we choose to be a part of it, there is no doubt we will be changed. So offer your mountain, your flood, your storm to the Lord, trusting and knowing that it will be used it amazing ways!
Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
1 cup regular hot chocolate made with milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup peanut butter
1.Make 1 cup of hot chocolate the way you like it (I suggest making it with milk vs water).
2. Add heavy cream, peanut butter and chocolate chips (if desiring a more chocolate flavor). Stir.
3. Add whip cream on top if desired and gently stir in.
4. Sip and enjoy!
Wife. Mother. Writer. Photographer. Child of God. Encouraging others in faith through a lens of grace and seeing beauty in the ashes.
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