The Cost of Yes

my heart was racing with every turn of the page and I couldn’t—NO, I wouldn’t put the book down until I had read the very last word.

My husband was working the midnight shift and the kids had been in bed for hours. I was not sleepy, and as is my habit, I love to read before bed. This night I was reading a page turner that a new friend had given to me. We had moved into our new community a few months before (the same as my new friend) and our girls had become friends in their kindergarten class. My friend loves to share Jesus with whomever God causes her path to cross (she has the gift of evangelism) and when we first met she began to talk with me about Jesus. She encouraged me to read the book she handed me. It was a novel about end times and is the first book in a series that seems to never end! As I think about this now I giggle a bit because it seems a strange choice to encourage one to read but Holy Spirit had prepared my heart and knew exactly what I needed to read. I have read many of the books in the series but this night my heart was racing with every turn of the page and I couldn’t—NO, I wouldn’t put the book down until I had read the very last word. That was 17 years ago.

When I had come to the last word it was late into the night, but I somehow had more energy than when I began reading. However, since it was quite late and the next day was a school day for my children I turned out the light and began my nightly prayers. Only this time I told God I didn’t want to be left behind, I wanted to spend eternity with Him and I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.

In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples

Luke 14:33

I look at these words of Jesus and wonder why we stop short in sharing the gospel message. It has been my experience over the years the message preached is of His love, grace and forgiveness. Please don’t misunderstand me this part of the gospel is an amazing gift! But Luke 14:33 and verses like it seem to be left out of teaching what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus. In Luke 14:33 Jesus says we must give up everything—surrender all to Him.

As Pastors, Elders and leaders; as the Bride of Christ are we afraid to include this part of the gospel because we think it would cause many to not want to follow Jesus? If this is the case then we have forgotten Holy Spirit’s job, Who, as a dear friend reminds me, is very good at His job! He prepares hearts to receive Jesus—to receive all of Jesus, all His words and all His teachings.

I am reminded of the parable of the sower and the farmer who drops seed on rocky places which spring up quickly but wither in the sun because the soil was shallow. This person receives the message but soon falls away. Could it be some of those who receive the message fall away quickly because they are not hearing a complete message? And could this also be a ploy of the enemy, who wanted to be God, whispering in the ear of the Bride, “Did God really say?”

Yes, God really said. We are to disciple and be discipled and as disciples we have to be willing to surrender all to Him.

Will you pay the cost of your yes?

God’s Favor Over Sullied Food

Deep red and thick with the fragrance of fresh herbs and spices with an aroma so enticing my family and I would sneak dips of french bread into its richness while it was still cooking on the stove. But she knew, my momma always knew right when we were dipping and would call out, “Put the lid down.” Every Sunday my momma made her delicious homemade spaghetti sauce with enough pasta to feed an army and we welcomed whomever stopped by to enjoy a feast with us. Most Sunday’s she made meatballs to add to her sauce but every once in a while she added freshly made Italian sausage from my cousin’s store. Her oil and vinegar salad dressing was always perfect. She didn’t measure out the oil or vinegar she just knew by taste. My momma loved to cook, she was an excellent cook and baker and loved when her table was full with others enjoying the feast she prepared.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

Daniel 1:8

While Daniel and his friends were in captivity the king had ordered they be fed from his own house; the royal food and wine. Daniel was not about to allow himself and his friends to be sullied by the king’s food that most likely included meat, fish, lamb, fowl and nuts, fruit and vegetables along with the wine to drink.

Many times other things look much tastier than what is already on our table. When what is on our table is from God nothing else compares in taste, smell, texture and satisfaction. God offers us food and drink that will never spoil regardless of how tasty something looks elsewhere.

We do have a choice to make. Will we choose what appears royally pleasing to the eye with aromas that seem delectable or will we choose the feast God has placed before us continually satiating our hunger?

I am afraid of my lord the king.

Daniel 1:10b

The chief official charged with overseeing Daniel and his friends was afraid that if he allowed them to forego the royal food and wine the king would punish him. Nonetheless, God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to them.

God does the same for us. He causes others to show us favor and sympathy which is a beautifully tangible reminder to us that His favor rests upon us simply because we have chosen Him and we are His kids!

As we stay connected to God [remembering there is no perfect way to spend time with Him except to ask Holy Spirit what that looks like for you on any given day] we don’t need to be concerned about fear. Jesus defeated fear and as we stand in His love for us fear has no chance at all.

Royal food and drink—we have no need because the Lord directs our steps directly to where His provision waits for us.

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Fear

Fear. It can be so crippling.

As a little girl we spent many summer weekends at Santa Cruz Beach in Northern California. I loved splashing and playing in the water right at the shoreline and in view of the watchful eyes of my parents. “Don’t go too far out,” they would call to me every so often. One weekend, not heeding their instructions, I ventured out a little further than normal. Suddenly, I was caught in a small undertow that began to pull me in. I remember being so afraid. To this day I have a very strong respect for the power of the ocean.

Thankfully, my daddy was watching. He was a strong swimmer and he quickly rescued me.

Many times when we hear Holy Spirit warning us we are like a little child, venturing a little further than normal. Suddenly we can find ourselves in a situation where we feel we are about to drown.

But you have a Heavenly Father who wants to rescue you. Call out to Him for help. I promise He is closer than you think. He reaches His hand out to you. Will you grab it?

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The Encouragement Project

How do you greet people when you see them? Maybe it’s with a smile or handshake, perhaps with a timid or hearty hug. Do you also verbally express your delight in seeing them with, “It’s good to see you or you look great!”?

To Timothy, my dear son:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Timothy 1:2

Throughout Paul’s writings and teachings his salutation expressed how much he cared for and loved the recipients of his words even when he had to include some hard truths. That is the core of discipleship, guiding each other back to the truth of God’s word and allowing Holy Spirit to convict us toward Christlike living. Because he loved Jesus and others so deeply Paul stepped out in courage and boldness. He was more concerned for the spiritual health of others than what others thought of him. Talk about knowing one’s identity in Jesus!

Paul was a wonderful encourager which led me to think how I could encourage others outside my sphere of influence. Without hesitation Holy Spirit dropped a thought into my mind—to send out cards of encouragement to churches around the world.

And, the Encouragement Project was started. It’s quite simple. I ask Holy Spirit who He wants to encourage and He highlights an area. I look up the churches in that area and He highlights a specific church. I write a short note of encouragement and place that in the mail.

Imagine with me the smiles and goodwill feelings those who read these notes must feel. Knowing God hears and sees them! With that, I challenge and encourage you to become a part of the Encouragement Project. I also encourage you to share this post not because I want traffic to my site but because I would love for others to have the opportunity to join in encouraging others. Imagine with me again how this one small sacrifice of our time could change the space, community and world around us making our living areas just a little bit sweeter. And, I guarantee you will feel joy for having spread some joy.

Shalom!

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Wednesday Encouragement

No, I am not calling you a fool! When I read this verse it brought to mind what I see posted on other social media platforms. It has been my experience that we tend to post mostly about God’s love and encouragement, even prominent Christian influencers, and hardly anything about the uncomfortable and sometimes hard truths. This isn’t a negative thing it is actually wonderful. But it causes me to wonder, if we believe all of God’s Word is the inerrant truth why are we not also posting the uncomfortable and hard truths?

I love God’s Word, all of His Word. My heart’s desire is to disciple others back to His Word where He teaches us about His love and where the truth of His Words convict us to make positive changes in our life so others will desire Jesus too. If our actions and our words don’t line up with our profession of Christ as our Lord and Savior then we miss opportunities to be the light Jesus left us to be.

Time is short, the harvest is overflowing and it isn’t about you. It’s all about Jesus.

Shalom!

He Calls You His

Their names were changed. Have you ever done a name change? When I was thirteen I added the name Marie to my middle name. When I applied for my driver’s license I added my second middle name to my license, without question or legal proof of the addition. Times were much different when I was 16!

The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:

Daniel was called Belteshazzar.

Hananiah was called Shadrach.

Mishael was called Meshach.

Azariah was called Abednego.

Daniel 1:7 NIV

Nebuchadnezzar took these four noble men of Israel, not coincidentally, from the lineage of Jesus, the tribe of Judah, and fed them daily delicacies from his own kitchen. He placed them in training for three years at which time they would serve the king. But, he changed their names.

But God had named them first.

  • Daniel’s name means God is my judge.
  • Hananiah’s name means God has been gracious.
  • Mishael’s name means who is what God is?
  • Azariah’s name means God has helped me.

As mentioned earlier, they were in training for three years before they would begin to serve the king. It can be like that in our life at times. We feel, sense, hear God’s call and anointing on our life but there is preparation to do.

When God calls us to His will for our life He begins by training us. Sometimes training is short and sometimes it can be a long process. He is always gracious and kind to show us each next step when He feels we are ready to move on.

Many times training involves an assessment of our heart by us. Perhaps there are things we are to confess and repent of so we can receive God’s healing and deliverance.

Training reminds us to be patient and wait for God to move. Many times easier said than done. However, we can trust that He has His will for our life under control. Our responsibility is to do only what he shows us regardless of all our wonderful ideas! As God trains us He opens doors of opportunity for us according to His timing and not any sooner.

Like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, who identified with the tribe of Judah, our identity is in Jesus the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

Nebuchadnezzar had their names changed to those of Babylonian god’s. As if that would cause them to disobey God. Their Hebrew names say it all, especially later in their story when they would find themselves in a fiery furnace.

  • God judged them worthy and righteous not to die.
  • God was gracious to them.
  • God helped them.
  • God reminded Nebuchadnezzar that no one is like God!

Our faithfulness is to God alone. These four men are excellent examples of a life lived believing in and trusting God. And we can be confident that whatever name the enemy calls us. God calls us His.

Living Righteously

Do we step off the path at times? Absolutely! Sometimes a minor course correction is needed and sometimes it can be a major correction.

Living a righteous life takes courage, it takes boldness, it takes wisdom.

You can do anything through the strength of Jesus. He promises. He wants you to do more than keep your head above water. He wants you to walk on the water of any situation in your life in the victory He won at the Cross for you!

Let’s stay tethered to Jesus together. Cheering, encouraging and holding each other accountable along the path of life and restoration.

#discipleship #belikejesus