Rejoice always – search and find inner joy in His promises… the ones that can never be found in this place, but in eternity.
Pray continually – be in constant communion with the Lord… let Him rest on the forefront of your mind… filter every thought through your growing knowledge and intimacy with Him.
Be thankful in ALL circumstances – in victory and defeat find Him there teaching, loving, changing and moving in you! Giving thanks recognizes His presence, His purpose and His perspective in all things.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.” 2 Kings 2: 9-10
The Lord was coming for Elijah and the answer to Elisha’s final request was something only He could answer.
For Elisha to “inherit a double portion” of Elijah’s spirit God would have to examine the motives of his heart. Were they pure? Set out for God’s glory and not his own? Only God could know for sure.
Let me pray for you… no problem. Whatever it is I will faithfully pray it. Whether your motives are pure or not is for you to ponder and for God to decide.
But when it comes to prayers for me and the things that I want or need it is not the same. I go to my knees and before I utter one word I come face-to-face with the motives of my own heart. Are they pure? Set out for God’s glory and not my own?
It’s tough. Can we honestly say in every case of personal prayer that our requests aren’t for selfish gain? When I pray for my husband to excel and succeed in his endeavors are my motives purely for God’s glory?
Looking at the evidence I don’t like what I see. In my humanness I desire his success to provide financial stability. Security. College funds. Future weddings. Comfort and blessings for who? For me.
Where is God in these needs of mine? Is it enough to say I will praise Him and glorify Him in these blessings? I don’t know. I can’t help but notice that it is my needs first and His glory as a result.
It’s this word “pure” that trips me up and keeps me tight lipped in my personal prayer requests.
Webster defines pure as: Unmixed with any other matter. Being thus and no other.
The problem? We ARE “mixed.” Not just “thus” and no other. We are undeniably human and decidedly Spiritual. Can our motives ever truly be “pure” for God?
I don’t know what God saw in Elisha’s heart that day. Were his motives pure for God or mixed too? That was a powerful position he was asking for. Either way, he granted Elisha’s request…
“As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more.” 2 Kings 2: 11-12
And with all of this I come to one imperfect conclusion.
Before I utter one word: God, I beg you for a heart like Elisha’s. Please see the deep desire and striving of my soul to have pure motives set for you. Forgive me for my mixed motives. Transform me. Dissipate the desires of my human heart and replace them with what brings glory only to you.
Having an attitude is easy. It is naturally produced by the flesh and thrives on emotion and greed. It stomps its foot, crying out for its own rights and demands happiness.
Having gratitude when you’d rather have an attitude is hard. Gratitude is a growing bi-product of the work of the Spirit and it thrives on Truth and peace. It proclaims, “what rights have I?” and is content in all things.
The two cannot co-exist. They are mutually exclusive… it’s one or the other. Will we see with our physical eyes, only what plays out clearly before us, or by the eyes of the Spirit within, a divine perspective presented by knowledge, trust and intimacy with God?
It’s this multitude of second-by-second and unrelenting choices that makes all the difference for us. And most importantly it identifies the ruling authority over us:Flesh or Spirit.
Which one will you lead with today?
We have received too much from God to allow ourselves opportunities for unbelief. We have received too many gifts and privileges to allow a grumbling, murmuring heart to disqualify us of our destiny. In contrast, the thankful heart sees the best part of every situation. It sees problems and weaknesses as opportunities, struggles as refining tools, and sinners as saints in progress. -Francis Frangipane
217. a working dishwasher for a small fee
218. husband who takes care of me as I recover (again)
219. children who let me rest
220. time with family
221. a new tv… something we’ve not had since we were married
222. anticipating Christmas
223. comfy pants
224. Thanksgiving meal
225. husbands smoked turkey
226. Elsie Dinsmore… how this little girl spurs me on in Christ
227. trusting You despite my urge to fret
228. time with a dear friend
229. my children laughing
230. my children loving each other
231. four straight days of family fun
234. soft fleece sheets
235. homemade popcorn
236. Pastor who listens, prays and preaches from the Word
237. the power to choose gratitude over attitude…
238. and the sweet blessing of that choice
When you’re up to your elbows in super starch heaven and gathered around the table with family and friends, please know…
We are so thankful for you.
For spending time with us.
For sharing in our adventures with God.
For continued support and friendship.
For your daily encouragement.
We are giving thanks to God for sweet friends, just like you, who bless our lives everyday.
Love, Kelli and Heidi
Scripture commands us to fix our minds on the positive and also to take every thought captive (see 2 Corinthians 10:5). The writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way: “Beware of what you dwell on for that you shall surely become.” Wow, how convicting!
It’s hard sometimes.
I know I am supposed to think on things praiseworthy and lovely but negative ideas have a way of dominating my thought life. We like to believe our family, friends, and/or circumstances determine our contentment… when in reality it’s our thought process.
I love how Linda Dillow describes negative thoughts in her book, “Calm My Anxious Heart:”
“My negative thoughts are like impatient toddlers jumping up and down and screaming, ‘Look at me, look at me.’ Jesus and I take the negative ‘toddler thoughts’ and send them to time-out so we can focus on the good thoughts. Sometimes they don’t obey. They get up out of the chair and once again scream for attention. Then Jesus and I take those thoughts back to the time-out chair, but this time we tie them up!”
If you’ve been around a toddler, this imagery fits.
Just like a toddler, negative thoughts demand our attention. They grab packs of Crayola’s and smear out all the good stuff. They cause normal-calm-mama to explode in hot-head mama.
At this point whose holding who captive?
I love when Linda says, “Jesus and I,” take the negative thoughts and tie them up. It’s not easy holding our thoughts captive… but we don’t have to do it alone. When thoughts become problematic, Jesus will sit negativity down while we string it up!
We must take control of our mind. We are commanded to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind,” (Romans 12:2). The renewal of our mind only happens when we take negative thoughts captive and dwell on the positive.
Write a list of the negative and positive aspects of the circumstances God has allowed in your life at this time. Which do you dwell on more?
As tears roll down her cheek, my dear neighbor wonders why this week has been so difficult. Her questions about God’s character begin to stew. The soot begins to tumble from gray-smoke-filled clouds as she mulls. She mulls over all the injustices from the week.
Where is God?
Does he hear me? She asks with a squeak in her voice.
Her family’s week is certainly a tragedy to lament. A family member dies suddenly. A brother snaps and goes to prison. Her in-laws yanked from their home as possessions perish in a tornado-like pillar of fire. The heater blows as weather shifts and snow begins to fall.
We can’t go back to the scene of the accident. We can’t go back to the hospital bed. We can’t go back to pack up all that was lost.
Oswald Chambers said it best, “Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ, and go out into the irresistible future with Him.”
Sometimes we stare too long at the known and all its rationale. We wade in waters of how-comes and whys. Unfortunately this frivolity limits the abundant life. It prevents us from daring to leap forward into the unknown~ a place where Messiah-touched-moments move us, transform us.
We can wrestle with life because it isn’t what we thought it would be. We can wish the pain would simply go away. We can get angry,
…or we can choose trust even when trust doesn’t seem like enough.
We trust even when our faith foundation feels charred.
We trust even when there’s no food or roof, anymore.
We trust God. Period.
Trust His ways are not our ways.
Trust there’s purpose tangled in pain.
Trust joy will rise over rubble.
Trust that, “Seldom does God use a person greatly who has not been hurt deeply,” A.W. Tozer.
There’s a progression of faith as it transitions from suffering to perseverance; from perseverance to character; and from character to hope. If the King of kings and Lord of lords was made “perfect through suffering,” we should not be surprised that God’s grace can also lead us to a higher level of spiritual maturity through trials.
As I stand on my sweet friend’s front porch, we gaze over the street at the smoldering blackened earth still bubbling from the beating. But, the fresh falling snow seems to cover it ~ nursing it back to health in a way.
Kind of like what God does for us. Nurses our wounds. Heals our scars.
In the midst of hushed silence, a familiar melody echoes through my mind like an old record mom used to play….
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust you!
How I’ve proved you o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust you more!
And sometimes that’s the only thing to say.
Praying for the loss in our community and for God’s comfort, a comfort only he can give.
Last week my neighbor and I had our first Bible study together. Her babysitter watched the kids at her house while we sat in the quiet of my house.
The topic for that chilly Monday morning: contentment.
Today, we live in such a comfort driven society that it’s easy to get our wants and our needs mixed up. One of the greatest obstacles to living contently is the confusion when it comes to needs and wants. When we take what we want and make it a need, we drive our discontentment.
Have y’all ever done that? I know I have.
Every time we switch on the T.V. or thumb through a magazine, the message is the same: it’s all about pleasure and fun…. ads convince us that without “worldly fun,” we’ll never be happy. Therefore when the fun runs out, discontentment sets in.
It’s hard not to get caught up in this.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that,” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).
This convicts me: “If we have food and covering, we should be content.”
But are we really content with the simple things: food in the pantry, a roof over our heads?
Can you imagine the cultural revolution that would take place if we actually began to see everything beyond basic necessities as blessings instead of entitlements?
Take a moment and think: “What are my basic necessities?” “How much of what I have do I feel entitled to have?”
I know…it’s a lot of thinking for a Thursday.
But underneath is a question, “How can a believer be content in all things?” The answer is found in Hebrews 13:5-6,
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
According to Scripture, the secret to contentment is in knowing:
God is our helper;
He will never desert us; and
He will never forsake us.
We can be content in everything because God is on our side and he is all powerful.
Christian contentment is a conviction that Christ’s power, purpose, and provision are sufficient for any circumstance. Contentment is saying out loud in your heart and soul: “I have Christ and that is enough,” (see 2 Cor. 12:9).
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you,” (Philippians 4:9, NIV)
My third grader and I have been in the trenches of multiplication and long division. I say “trenches” because at times, it feels like an all out war. Part of the problem is memorizing the multiplication tables. We practice and drill and practice some more. It’s a skill only mastered by repetition. When we practice something, we must do it over and over again.
Practice isn’t fun. In fact, Savanna growls every time I pull out the flashcards.
However in Philippians 4, Paul instructs us to practice, “Things we’ve learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me.”
What are the things Paul is telling us to practice?
Choosing to give our worries and cares to God;
Choosing to pray specifically and with confidence;
Choosing to be thankful even in tragedy; and
Choosing to dwell on positive things.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “practice” like this: To do or perform (something) repeatedly in order to acquire or polish a skill. Paul says these things won’t be easy. They aren’t second nature for us. We will mess up. But God’s glory is at stake and we must motivate ourselves to keep practicing until we get it right.
I bet if we met Paul today, he would be a type “A” over-achiever… don’t you think?
Anyway, for me personally, I have to practice and mess up a few times before anything becomes a habit. My mama always said, “Practice makes perfect.” When we do the things Paul refers to, the peace of God WILL be with us.
Because in this passage we see that the peace of God always flows into the hearts of those who obey Him.
Let’s seek first the Kingdom of God and see what happens!
What do you find extremely boring?
Driving long distances?
Sitting watching T.V. with extended family after Thanksgiving dinner?
In my youth, I went fishing with some friends. My first fishing expedition took place on Lake Lanier. We sat in a wooden fishing boat with splashes of red paint across one side and a Georgia Bulldog on the other. This little boat wobbled with even the smallest fidget, so we remained still and quiet… two things I’m not so good at.
We sat some more.
Nothing, not one fish, clung to the slimy critter hanging on the end of my line. This slow-paced, “I’m never catching anything,” fishing experience bored me to tears.
I’m guessing at times Peter and Andrew, who were full-time fishermen, felt this way about fishing. I’m sure there were days the nets overflowed with fish; but there were also days the nets sat beside the boat still and empty. Those days had to be boring.
One day Jesus strolled across the shoreline of Galilee with the cure for boredom.
“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish
for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him,” (Matt. 4:18-22, NIV).
These young disciples-in-the-making were ready for anything to shake the boredom from their nets, from their lives.
They were ready for an adventure—and after hanging out with Jesus for a while, that’s exactly what they got.
There may days we feel empty and still, just like the nets floating along the sea. There may be days we yearn for something more substantial to fill our lives. But on those days we must remember the fishermen….the ones who cast out their empty nets and found Jesus. The blue-collar fisherman who were radically changed the moment Jesus moved them from boredom to pandemonium.
That’s what Jesus wants to do for us.
When Jesus walks across the shoreline of our seemingly boring days, he will carry with him the cure for what ails us. That cure is found in Him… in following hard after him… in listening to his words… in hanging out with him. When we do this we will be like the disciples – we will get so stirred up about Jesus that we leave everything else behind.
The other day I heard Chip Ingram say this on the the radio…
“God never promised to make you happy, what He promised was to make you Holy.”
We seem to stumble over happiness . Our needy, selfish flesh is looking for it everywhere. It wants. And craves. And stumbles over it, trying to attain it all the time.
I like to use the word stumble with happiness because it reminds me that happiness or at least the search for it is a “stumbling block” set out by the deceiver himself.
Our little minds get so caught up imagining happiness in the form of earthly blessings that we soon forget all about the eternal blessings. We spin out for a taste of what we think we want for happiness. But, eternal blessings. Oh, the eternal blessings! You know, the ones that completely overwhelm even our wildest, loveliest dreams for happiness.
That’s where it’s at.
And for now the earthly blessings He does bestow are best found within an arms reach. Robert Louis Stevenson said…
“The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet,duties at your hand, the path of God just before you.”
I want to find happiness only in Him and in what He’s already given to me along with anticipating His ultimate in eternity.
So, in my refinement, my sanctification, my journey to Holy… I’m forgetting all about happy. Asking Him for the strength to do that. To keep my focus on His promise of Holy instead. The eternal. And of course you won’t be surprised, but… it’s working.
Funny thing is… this makes me happy!
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8
196. celebrating 12 years of marriage with husband…
197. his passionate love for me that continues to grow…
198. the way he prays for me…
199. the godly example of a man he is to our children…
200. how hard he works for us…
201. the way he waits on God…
202. the wisdom he finds in God’s word…
203. how He longs to serve Him in some grand way…
204. knowing there is no one better for me
205. finding You at the center of our marriage even when it’s hard
206. loving each other more as a result of tough times
207. the gift of more patience…
208. more understanding…
209. and more love
210. sweet anticipation of Your plan ahead for us
211. spontaneous overnight trip to celebrate with the kids
212. road trip giggles
213. Pringles (because it’s not a road trip without them)
214. Dramamine (because a road trip goes bad without it)
215. Joe’s Crab Shack (our favorite place to eat as a family)
216. finding Your blessings in absolutely everything