If You Want to Live​ a Prosperous Life…Try This

And so he prospered….(2 Chronicles 31:21)

You know, I want to prosper in life. I really do. This past year of my life has been one of prospering. This was evident to me last night as I was surrounded by many friends.
You see, my life has prospered because of the depth of my relationships have grown exponentially. This past year I have learned to be appropriately vulnerable and open with others about the real me. The one who still struggles against sin. The woman who doesn’t always get it right, but desperately wants to be like Jesus. That woman, the real me being made into the image of Jesus has prospered greatly.
Not only do I have the joy of Christ growing more in her heart, but I have peace. While talking with a friend last night about something I’m asking God for in my life she said, “You don’t seem worked up or worried about it.” That is because the Lord has prospered His peace in me. This journey that God has taken me on has been one of learning to let go of control and place my life fully in His hands. This doesn’t mean I always get that right. Sometimes I still fight up against the Lord, but I have seen a great garden grow within my heart over this past year. Truly, it is a garden of His peace and prosperity. There have been many times when I have run to that garden to find sustenance for my worried, anxious heart.
Did I make more money this year? Nope. Did I get everything I wanted? Absolutely not. But my life prospered in His joy. As I reflect back on this journey God has taken me on I can see just how great His love has been for me.
Be reminded that the greatest thing you can prosper in is not money or things, but in a deeper relationship with God and others. This is the greatest joy and it only happens as we open up ourselves to others. It is a beautiful thing when the body of Christ comes to one another without reservation, but with transparency and vulnerability. As we do this, we prosper as we grow up together in Christ-likeness and love.
Lord, I want to be transparent and not fear to be vulnerable before others, because I want to keep growing deeper in my relationships with others. Truly, God, I need your grace in all of that. I feel fear knocking at my heart over my desire to be transparent. Lord, I submit those fears to you and ask you to bring your comfort and joy upon me instead, in Jesus name, Amen.

Yesterday I Said This To My Husband…

If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you…. (Proverbs 9:12).

Yesterday, anxiety and fear came knocking. My husband came to me with a request and quickly, my heart and mind become flooded with all the things that could go wrong. Although, in the back of my mind I sensed the peace of the Lord in moving forward with the direction he wanted to go I was hesitant to express that because my fears were right there with me.
Marriage, raising children and growing as a person all come with the challenge of learning to let go of control. More specifically, letting go of the need to control the people and circumstances in our life.
I said to my husband, “Here are my reservations, concerns, and the reasons why I don’t think it’s a good idea, but I’ll leave the final decision up to you and support you in whatever you decide.”
As we prayed through the issue together my husband sensed we were to move forward with his request, so he did and you know what happened next? I got internally angry. I don’t think my husband noticed, but I knew it was there. I thought, “He didn’t choose what I wanted, how could he?” I realized what was flooding my heart and mind was not wisdom from God, but a plan of the enemy to place a wedge between me and my husband.
After all, I knew that the peace of God was leading me to side with my husband, but I was too prideful to tell my husband that, because my fear still wanted to hang onto some small bit of control, hoping my husband would side with my lack of faith.
As I submitted my anger and fears to the Lord my heart and mind became flooded with grace. Because of this, I was able to move forward in supporting my husband with joy.
Letting go of control is hard, isn’t it? The people and circumstances in our life can bring us so much fear. Yet, we cannot, nor will we ever find lasting joy and freedom if we constantly concern ourselves with seeking to control everything and everyone around us. We will only hurt people and have extremely shallow relationships, never truly being at peace.
The only way to find freedom from control is to walk by faith and not be run by our emotions. Emotions will swing back and forth like the raging sea, but faith remains strong and steady for the journey ahead.
Lord, I trust you. I’m sorry for the times when I have doubted you. I can’t see what tomorrow brings and sometimes I just really want to be in control of it. Forgive me for my lack of faith. Thank you for your peace that surpasses all understanding as I submit my fears to you, in Jesus name, Amen.

He Has Done It!

He has done it!….Psalm 22:31

I am so happy that I am not the one in charge. Although sometimes my actions show that I want to be, at the end of the day, I am very glad that God is the one calling the shots. Sometimes I want Him to work on a different timeline or in a different way. I want Him to save me from pain and difficulty, but there is something about walking through painful seasons that makes us more like Jesus as long as we cling to the promises of God.
I have watched people become bitter, growing angrier as they push God and others away because of their pain. My heart is sad for them. There is so much joy God wants to bring from our pain if we’d be willing to submit it all to His love.
I write a lot about my own struggles against sin. For a long time in my life I felt as though I needed to have it all together, but after this recent journey God has been taking me on, I’m realizing that I don’t and I never will.
You see, I sense the enemy trying to shut down my transparency, for fear that others won’t accept me. I hear his voice trying to steer me into a pit of unbelief and discouragement. Yet, I am reminded that it is God who steers the ship. Whatever door He opens no man can shut and whatever door He closes I need to stop trying to open.
I’m not sure what you’re walking through, but if you’re anything like me, you struggle against sin on a daily basis too. You desperately want to be like Jesus but don’t always get it right. You struggle against wanting what you want and submitting yourself to God and His timing. You struggle with not getting angry with God or others over what’s happened in your life. Trust me, I get that. Thankfully, there is always hope for our journey as we learn to entrust all aspects of our lives to God.
You see, if I could be quite honest, there are moments in my life when I cannot say, “He has done it!” Mostly because I inserted myself into the situation, driving the ship forward with my own fear or anxiety, making it happen. Sadly, I know there have been moments in my life when I have missed out on seeing the miracles of God at work because of my own unhealthy need to be in control.
In this present season, I want to let go and believe that God is working on my behalf. There is something in my heart that I desire so deeply right now that if it does come to fruition I know it will be because “He has done it!” Trust me, on this one, God isn’t letting me take any control of it and for that I am thankful.
Lord, I trust you. I surrender to your love. I long to be like you. I need you! I know that you see the deep longing of my heart and so as I submit to you I trust and believe that I will be able to say, “He has done it!” Let it be so! In Christ’s name, Amen.

Listening to Someone Who’s Hurt You With Ears of Accusation

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus…(Luke 6:7).

Yesterday I was listening to someone, but if I could be quite honest, I was listening with ears of accusation. Since this person has hurt me before in the past my first initial response was to analyze nearly everything they said. I was looking for some way I could accuse or judge them in my own heart for their duplicity.
This reality only reveals a deeper need for transformation. If we constantly find ourselves listening to something or someone only to catch them in a trap and confirm within our own hearts and minds their hypocrisy we have only proved that we are actually the ones in need of deeper transformation. We cannot serve as judge over someone, but we certainly think we can by the way we live our lives. Sure, they need a transformed heart too, but we cannot neglect that the biggest heart in need of transformation is often our own.
Instead of listening with ears of accusation, silence your heart and mind. If you can’t listen without feeling a strong sense of the need to accuse get in your prayer closest and confess your sin to the Lord Jesus. Yes, that’s right, your sin. Each time we place that person on the chopping block, wishing to see them fall, we reveal within our own hearts a need for God’s love to invade our sinful, self-righteous hearts.
Sometimes I think I do this because I want to prove to myself how prideful they are, only confirming in my heart that what they did actually happened. In a strange way, it gives me some sense of satisfaction to catch them in their duplicity. This is why it’s so important that we surrender each hurt and painful circumstance to the Lord Jesus because if we don’t a root of bitterness will spring up. I don’t feel bitter about it, but I certainly sense a spirit of self-righteous judgment in my heart against that person.
Is it possible to be free from such a self-righteous heart like the one I experience? It is, but we must be willing to speak blessing over that person’s life instead. We must be willing to submit each situation to the Lordship of Christ, letting Him serve as judge over it and not demanding justice in a way that will only make us happy. Pray for God to work and be OK with how He chooses to work in your situation. Seek reconciliation and forgiveness wherever possible. Let go of your need to accuse and be set free instead by the love of God that dwells in you through faith.
Lord, thank you that you love me and those who have hurt me. Bless their lives. Forgive me for my self-righteous attitude. Lord, I want to be more like you. I receive all of your joy. I need it. Bring great joy from every pain I have ever experienced in this life. I trust you, in Jesus name, Amen.

Sometimes I’ve Convinced Myself I’ve Heard From Jesus When Really It Was Just One of My Idols…

“O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.”…. (2 Kings 6:17)

The Lord spoke a convicting word into my life today. I noticed as I was distracted as I was reading. Quite honestly, one of my idols was taking up residency in my heart and I wasn’t able to fully engage with God in the Scriptures.
Since I wasn’t fully present, but dabbling instead with my idol, desiring to appease it, I felt rushed. In the back of my mind, I was thinking about how quickly I could get done so I could move onto the next thing and start serving my idol. Since I was aware this was happening I took a moment to pray and lay my idol down before the Lord, asking Jesus to take up full residency in my heart and mind instead.
Then the Lord spoke something into my Spirit. He said, “Whenever you allow your idol to sit on the throne of your heart, you will only see the Scriptures through the eyes of your idol, but when you lay down your idol and let my Son sit on the throne, you can see my word through His eyes.”
This revelation caught me off guard a bit, because I then thought to myself, how many times have I only seen God’s word through the eyes of my idols instead of through the eyes of Jesus? Maybe this is why I’ve done things I have convinced myself were from God only to find out that at the end of the day, I was only pursuing it because my idols were pushing me in that direction.
So today, I’m asking Jesus to sit on the throne, because quite frankly, without Him I’m sure to start seeing the world through my own selfish desires. Truly, I must submit myself to Him with each passing moment.
Lord, I submit to you. I want to see and understand your word through the eyes of Jesus. I know that I have been rushed, anxious and not fully present with you in the morning, because sometimes I let my idols start to control my heart, thoughts, and emotions. Forgive me for my lack of self-control. Lord, I submit to you today, thank you for loving me, in Jesus name, Amen.

Hanging on the Words of Jesus, Instead of the Words of People

because all the people hung on his words…..(Luke 19:48).

I wish that I was always hanging on the words of Jesus, but sometimes I’m not. I’ll be honest, I often find myself hanging instead on the words of people. I let their opinion of me or their words start to define me or give me significance. I start to drown in my own insecurity if people don’t offer me the attention I would expect. My own selfish heart struggles to find joy and contentment in the Lord when all I want is the praise and attention of those around me.
Yet, there is a Savior whose words are life and peace. His words calm the most anxious of hearts and give life to those who live in the greatest amount of fear and insecurity. Yes, His name is Jesus. He is a powerful, kind, loving and courageous Savior.
Whenever I hang on the words of Jesus my heart is content. Yes, as I cling to Him, I don’t need to worry or fret about what man says or doesn’t say, because my delight is found in His love that dances over me.
Choosing the words of Jesus doesn’t always come easy to me. Mostly, because my first inclination is to lean into whatever I’m feeling at that moment. Our feelings will almost always lead us away from the goodness of God. In those moments His words cannot soothe us, because we have not clung to them.
Yet, even in our stubbornness, the love of our Savior awaits us to return to Him. As I cling to Him and His word, I am changed. Yes, I am changed. I am not left as I once was. Truly, He is a loving Savior who takes even the darkest of hearts and breathes new life into them. Today I will choose to cling to His words because they are what fill me with joy, life peace, and satisfaction. They are what give me hope as I hang on His every word.
Abba, daddy, you are so good. Your heart is always searching the earth for those who want to seek you. Lord, let that be true of my heart today. I long to cling to your word and feast from it. I want to be humble enough to say that I don’t always do this and for that reason, I need your grace. Lord, speak words of life into my heart today, in Jesus name, Amen.

Sometimes I Just Want More From God So I Can Have More To Show Off To Others….

Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’…(Luke 19:17).

Following Jesus is never about who we are or the title’s we hold. Following Jesus is all about faithfulness. The Lord has placed me on a humbling journey recently in my life. He’s thrust me into a much different place. A place with no title’s that hold great significance. He’s made me a servant with little place in the eyes of man, but a great role in the Kingdom.
The Lord is not looking for one more individual bent on making a name for themselves. He’s looking for people who will be faithful with the little they’ve been given. I remember years ago while speaking at a rescue mission for women I didn’t give my very best because the crowd was so small. Thankfully, I was convicted by the Lord of my pride and started bringing my very best to the 7-8 women that would come to chapel when I would speak.
Yes, faithfulness is what God is seeking from us. Truly, if we are faithful to serve even in the smallest of places God will entrust us with an even greater territory for His namesake.
Can I be really honest? Years ago, I would not have been ready for greater territory. It would have gone straight to my head and I would have believed I was deserving of it, but because I’ve been humbled by my maker, stripped of everything I once knew I am finally in a place where any territory God gives me I see as a true blessing only from His hand. Anything He would choose to give me I finally see as His mercy, instead of something I believe I deserved in the first place.
The Scriptures remind us that “He who humbles himself will be exalted.” I don’t think this means that we just happen to get ourselves lower expecting God to raise us up. I think it means that we lower ourselves so we can do the dirty, hard work of the Kingdom because that’s what pleases God. We shouldn’t seek work that raised us up, but instead, work that keeps us humble.
Lord, I want to be a worker for you. I want to be faithful in this present season. Whatever you give me, Lord, I want to do my best for you. Quite honestly, I must have your presence with me if I am going to do anything at all for your Kingdom. Lord, let your light shine through me, not so I can have a bigger stage. I cannot accomplish anything without you working through me. Today I will choose to be faithful and thankful, in Jesus name, Amen.

Give Love

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal….(1 Corinthians 13:1).

Many of us, myself included, have viewed the pursuit of life, in the Kingdom of God as a ladder to climb on our way to the top. I have pursued my own selfish desire to be known and seen by others. I’ve pursued making a name for myself. I’ve even pursued the praise and adoration of people as I’ve “served the Lord.”
In fact, for many years I led a very successful ministry, but it took me a few years of leading it to figure out that my greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God was not in running a great program, but in dispensing love. The kind of love that can only come from God.
Yes, the greatest gift we can give to another person is love, to see them, and to help them know they are deeply loved. Not as another number in a program, but a person to be loved. Yes, this was the mission of Jesus, to love people, not things or programs.
How do we give out this kind of love? You can fake it, but that won’t go very deep. You can try to muster up more of it, but again, it will never come out as genuine. We must submit ourselves to the mercies of the Lord Jesus who grows our hearts to be more like His. Yes, this is the only way as we submit ourselves to His transformative love. I have found for me that I have to be very intentional to change my habits and do things that make me feel a bit uncomfortable as I trust God for a new heart.
Consider practicing love with a simple hug, or a smile. Start small and begin by letting the love of Christ that dwells richly in your heart through His grace be what comes out of you. Submit yourself to His metamorphosis and watch Him love people through you. Will this be a less glamorous ministry? Yes, of course, but it will, on all accounts be true Kingdom work for the glory of God.
Lord, today I want to live for you. I want to submit myself to you. Please love people through me. I cannot do it without you. Jesus, be my joy and search the deep parts of my heart as I seek to love people with your love, in your name I pray, Amen.

Increase My Faith….Because the Hurt Was So Deep

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” …(Luke 17:5)

Today I found myself uttering the same words as the apostles, “Lord, increase my faith!” If I could be quite honest, I feel a lot like them after reading Jesus’ words about forgiveness. As I was contemplating the words of Jesus on forgiveness I thought of 1 Corinthians 13….”love keeps no record of wrongs”…”love is not proud”….Sometimes, these are hard ones for me to live out. I’ll be honest, sometimes, the stories of my past sit right behind my lips because I struggle at “keeping no record of wrong” towards that person.
Learning to let our past go means learning to wipe away the sin done to us by the other person. This doesn’t mean that we agree with what they did, it just means we release our hurt and their sin into the hands of God. He is full of justice and mercy. We don’t need to keep recalling, because in doing so, it only keeps us from true freedom. The closer that story is to our lips, the further our hand presses that person away.
Why did the disciples cry out, “increase our faith?” Because, just like you and me, they knew they couldn’t practice such forgiveness without deeper faith in the Lord Jesus. Maybe instead of crying out for justice and for answers over our painful situations in life, we should instead be crying out, “Lord, increase my faith!” Today I’m going to choose that phrase instead. I’m trusting God will meet me and grow my faith, because, at times, it can be so weak.
Lord, increase my faith! Yes, please, grow me to be one of your Kingdom workers. Forgive me, Lord, when my faith is so weak. When I let the sins of the past plague my heart and mind. Jesus, today I release everything to you. All of it. Even the deepest parts. Shower me with grace, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Have Laid Up Many Stones Upon My Heart to Keep Me From Getting Hurt Again….

They found the stone rolled away from the tomb….(Luke 24:2).

There have been many stones laid up upon my heart. Stones of unbelief, fear, discouragement, and pride. Stones that keep me hidden in the grave. Yet, we must remember that God is always seeking to redeem us from the grave. Yes, He is in the business of resurrection. Truly, He is the God of life and peace. He makes all things new and that includes removing the heaviest of stones we have placed upon our hearts.
I had a big stone laid upon my heart as a teenager. It was a stone placed there to protect myself from getting hurt by other people. It was a stone that said, “I’m not letting you in, because I’m afraid you’ll hurt me too.”
The more stones we lay up upon our hearts, the less meaningful our relationships in life will be. Jesus wishes to free us from the burdens we have placed on our own lives. The heaviness of sorrow, the anguish of unbelief and fear. The weightiness of pride and the back-breaking reality of shame. For far too long I hid behind these stones, not letting people in, because I was afraid that exposing my true self meant being rejected by others.
As the two women went to the tomb that morning they saw the stone rolled away and entered in to see what had happened. There was no body to be found because the Lord Jesus left the tomb. Yes, as God rolled the stone away Jesus walked out and into new life. Beloved, hear this, Jesus is rolling your stones away, please, walk out. Your freedom awaits you because your Lord is rolling the stone away. Do not stay stuck in the grave, walk out with your Lord towards new life and freedom. Is it risky? Yes, of course, but truly, it is worth it.
Abba, daddy, you have rolled the stone away. Thank you for setting me free by your love. Thank you that you don’t leave me in the grave, but you are always looking for ways to set me free. Lord Jesus, I trust you. Today, I want to run with you out of the grave and into faith. Yes Lord, roll a stone away today. Show me where I am not trusting you, so that I can set that aside to walk with you towards freedom instead, in Jesus name, Amen.