All Their Flaws And Baggage

What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor declares the Lord Almighty?….(Isaiah 3:15)

God cares deeply for the poor and oppressed among us. We see His divine care for them all throughout the pages of Scripture. His love for them never stops and neither should ours. If I’m being honest I haven’t always loved the oppressed. Sure, I wasn’t the kind of person who was heaping down more oppression on them, but I wasn’t doing much to help them either. When I did help, I felt pretty good about myself, or maybe worse, my heart felt disconnected from them. It was more about service to the Lord than it was about seeing them as a human being.

This is what Jesus does though. He sees them as human beings made in His divine image with purpose. If I’m being honest, I often times saw the oppressed with all their flaws and baggage. I’m finally starting to see them for who they can be instead of who they once were.

The writer of Isaiah questions the nation of Israel for their treatment of others. He gives a picture of them crushing people and grinding their faces. It seems as though he’s saying, “Why are you ignoring them? Why are you not choosing to see them as people made in my image?” Friend, who are you neglecting to see and I mean really see. I’ve still got a long ways to go in all of this. My natural bent is to see the flaws in people before I see their potential. Oh Lord, help me see them and not grind their faces down because they don’t meet my expectations of them!

Father, I want to see people like you see people. I want to love and care for them like Jesus does. Oh Lord, change me, I ask, in Christ’s name, Amen.

Is His Presence Enough?

but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel…(Lk 24:21).

Don’t give up hope, dear friend, Jesus is always working. I know you’ve been praying, hoping, wishing, wanting and waiting. Is not His love enough or do you need the answer to your prayer, absent of His presence?

Here’s what I mean. Would rather have the job, house, or child right away so you no longer have to wait or are you simply OK with having God and His presence, knowing that He is working for you on your behalf.

My dad said something to me the other day as I was sharing some doubts with him. He said, “Heather, even if this doesn’t work out, something else will come up and you’ll be taken care of.”

Dad’s right. God would never leave me without my daily bread. The things that I need to be sustained throughout the day. It’s that kind of sustenance that I need because it helps me see who He is for my life when I learn to wait and trust Him.

So friend, I’m not sure what you’ve asked God for in your life, but I want to simply remind you as my father did that He will never leave you without what you need. Keep praying and keep trusting my friend. This is where life only gets better as we choose to live life with God, not because He gives us everything we want in the time we want, because we learn that time and space are most beautifully lived when we share them with God when our hands are empty of everything we’ve prayed for, but full of His enduring and everlasting love.

Lord, you made the Heavens. You created all things. Truly, you can most certainly take care of my needs. I trust you for today, thank you that I have your presence in my life, in Jesus name, Amen.

Rest In The Midst of Chaos

But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment…(Lk 23:56).

My daughter started developing this bad bedtime habit and I got all wrapped up in her chaos instead of learning to rest as her mother. For a couple of nights I felt clueless knowing what to do and then finally I made the decision to stop letting her dictate how things go and start setting appropriate and healthy boundaries for her. Of course, she got angry, threw a really big fit, but each night the crying has gotten less and less now that she understands her old way of doing things isn’t going to work anymore. But I had to stop myself from entering into her chaos first. I had to learn to be still and let my heart rest in peace. I had to tune into my motherly instincts and listen to them instead of my fears.

Friend, there are so many chaotic voices in this life, aren’t there? Pulling us this way and that. Trying to get us off course and bring us into their confusion. If we’re not careful, we’ll leave the place of rest and get all tangled up. That’s what happened to me for a couple of nights with my daugther. She found a way to be in control and she grabbed on hard to it and kept spinning me around and around in her chaos. She’s young. She’s just trying to test her boundaries and I get that, so I always have to listen to the Lord’s voice and sink myself deep into His peace.

Friend, there’s an enemy who’s going for your weaknesses too. He’s got you figured out. He’s going to start spinning that story of fear inside of you. You must practice stillness, trust, obedience and peace. There’s just no other way to live this life in the freedom and knowledge of God.

Whenever you feel yourself getting all caught up in a place of chaos, know that it’s not from God. The Lord has peace for you. He has a river that flows from His throne into your heart, not a rope that ties you up and bounds you with fear. That’s the enemy. Come before God with open hands to receive Him today. Won’t you join me?

Lord, I trust you. You are in control. I won’t give way to the chaos. I will trust in your name. You are so good, faithful and true. Thank you for meeting our needs according to your riches in grace, in Jesus name, Amen.

Sit In The Sifting

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you…(Lk 22:31–32).

The other day my husband made some quinoa for us. He followed the directions to a T. He’s all about that. Me, on the other hand, if there’s a shortcut, I’ll take it. Shoot, sometimes I’ll even make up my own shortcuts. Therefore, the quinoa I made last night didn’t taste as good as my husbands, why? Because I skipped a step. I didn’t rinse the quinoa like the instructions said.

I get in a hurry sometimes. I want to be done with something so I’ll move about much quicker than I should. I want to get from point A to point B much faster. I don’t really like the process that it takes to do things. I’m just always thinking about getting onto the next task.

But friend, skipping steps and running through them doesn’t produce the very best result. It’s also quite discouraging when we don’t enjoy the process. Waiting is hard, isn’t it? That’s why we have microwaved food, quick oats, and rice that can cook in just a few short minutes.

The Lord allowed Peter to go through a time of sifting. A process, I’m sure, that was very painful, just as He did for others in Scripture who would invest themselves more fully in the grand story of God. I’m sure, at times, just like me, they wanted to take a shortcut and rush through the process. I’ve done that, and it never produces the best result.

Friend, did we ever pause and think that maybe this season of sifting is a season of preparing you for a greater work of God? Is it quite possible that this season you’re in that’s been lasting for years is because you have yet to truly submit yourself to the sifting work of the Father? Could it be you keep short changing the process and He’s trying to get you somewhere, but you won’t let Him break through that area in your life?

I’m paying attention to the work of the Father in my life. In the areas I want to take over control. The ones where I don’t want to be sifted like wheat. Yet, whenever I do submit myself, I always see a greater work of God on display. Truly, that’s just the kind of God He is- working with us, not plowing His way through us.

So friend, let Him do His work. Submit yourself to the process and let Him bring about something much more beautiful than before. You’ll get there- I promise. This season won’t last forever and even if it feels like it may, there’s is grace available for you each day to walk in His life, love and peace.

Father, I don’t want to run from these places of growth in my life. Truly, you are such a good and faithful God. I love you. Thank you for loving me, in Jesus name, Amen.

When God Says Wait

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding”…Proverbs 3:5

Yesterday, God didn’t answer a prayer my husband and I had been praying the way we had hoped. I had peace in my Spirit that God just had something better. If I’m being honest though, at moments it was hard for me to understand that something better might actually be true, but friend, the more life I’ve lived and the deeper journey I have had with God the more I realize this is true.

I might not be what you think is better, but it will be what’s best. God always has a bigger plan at work. A plan that you are part of, but not directing. I tried doing that for awhile. That always ends in disaster. It’s much better to listen and wait then it is is to force your way in and believe that God should have blessed it. I’ve done that too. That just leaves us angry at God for no reason.

Friend, don’t be afraid to wait on God. Something good is coming. Trust me, He loves you deeply. His joy and peace are what you need for your daily bread. Feast on that for today, not what you expect Hm to do, but thank Him for what He’s already done.

Lord, I trust you. I have nothing to fear. You are so good, so loving and kind. Thank you for the grace of the cross. I want to live in that grace for my life today, in Jesus name, Amen.

No More Pointing Fingers

A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy….(Lk 19:2).

Zacchaeus was not a well loved person on Jericho. He was known for being a tax collector. Tax collector were deeply hated, simply because they worked for Rome and played a part in the over-taxing of the Jewish community. Because of their actions, many tax collectors benefited greatly and were quite wealthy, but they were not seen as people within the Jewish community who were worth anyone’s time. Let alone the Lord Jesus Himself.

But Jesus flips everyone on their lid and takes the initiative to enter into conversation with Him. He then invites Himself along with His disciples into their home. His audience would have been shocked, unsure of what to do with the scene before them. They would have been so focused on who Zacchaeus was that they would have never thought that maybe he just needed someone to believe in who he could become.

Friend, that’s the kingdom, is it not? Believing with great faith in who people can become through the gospel? Not shaming them for their current state or making them feel like a failure because of their past mistakes? How many times have we done this though? Thought to ourselves, oh, there’s ________________, she’s a divorcee, or there’s __________________ he’s a drug addict.

Friend, what if we stopped pointing fingers and start offering a hand instead? What if we opened our hand towards all people, just as our Lord has done, and invited them into a new life that comes only through Jesus? It’s true that some will dismiss our invitation, but some won’t. Some will feel as though your gesture is the one they needed to rise from the ashes they’ve found themselves in. The shame of the divorce, the disappointment from the crisis they just walked through or the hardship of the struggles they’re currently facing.

This is why Jesus says that He came to seek and save the lost. Yes, the lost sheep are the ones He came to save. Shouldn’t we then, come not with pointing fingers of judgement, but open arms of love? That’s my prayer for my life today, won’t you join me?

Father, you are so good and kind. You’re a faithful King. Thank you for your grace and mercy to me. I want to extend that same love and grace to those around me. Let it be so, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Be Persistent

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more….(Lk 18:39).

My daughter, at times, can be extremely persistent. As her mother, I have to practice wisdom to discern whether or not she really needs what she’s asking for or if she is just being persistent because she’s trying to see who’s going to win.

Friend, when it comes to our relationship with God, He’s always going to win. Yet, He loves for His people to be persistent in prayer. I think that’s because it shows we truly believe Him to be who He says He is. We keep coming to Him because we know that He’s it. He’s the one that moves mountains, parts seas and takes care of you and me.

So, I’m not sure what you need from Him today, but I want to encourage you to keep coming to Him. Be persistent and don’t give up praying. Your blessing dear friend, as God would see fit, might be just around the corner as you learn to listen, and heed His voice.

Father, I want to be persistent and keep coming to you in prayer. I know that you are good. I believe that you hold all things together by the power of your great love. Show me now more of. yourself as I come to you. Thank you God that I can keep coming to you and that you hear my prayer, in Jesus name, Amen.

Maybe It Was Keeping You Out of The Shepherd’s Field

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much”….(Lk 16:10).

The other day I was asked a question, “What do you think has prepared you for this ministry?” I said, “The Lord has been taking me on a deep season of gutting me out. I’ve experienced some great losses, difficult hardships and painful things over these past few years and God has used them to make me a better shepherd.”

Friend, that’s what He’s doing, Don’t you see? He uses all things to make us more like Him. We just have to be willing to embrace the hardship as part of that process. We can get so caught up on the things that didn’t go right. The plans that fell through, the people that came up short for us and the disappointment we have over the deep losses we’ve felt. Sometimes the grief gets triggered and that’s OK. Grieving the life we once had, because of the beauty that we held in our hands and that people that we loved was real and it’s OK to feel the depth of that and let your heart be held by the Father in it.

I think that seasons of preparation turn us more into real people if we’re willing to let God have the very best of us when it feels like all the best of us was stripped away. Maybe, just maybe those parts we felt were best weren’t. Maybe the money, prestige, the place at the table and the things we owned were keeping us on the stage and out of the shepherds field. That’s what I believe God has been showing me over these past few months and years. That my life will have many hills and valleys, hardships and uncertain times, but the rock I stand on will never be shaken and for that you and I can rejoice and be glad.

Father, I trust you. You are the joy of my life. No matter what has come my way over these past few years, you have stood by me. Thank you. You are so good to me, in Jesus name, Amen.

Jealousy…A Terrible Poison

My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours….(Lk 15:31).

Friend, don’t be jealous of those around you. It’s quite toxic for your soul. I know things have gone really well in their life. I also know it seems like things have gone a bit awry in yours. Don’t worry though, God’s got it all in His hands. You can trust the plan of God for your life. It will be a good plan. It will be full of His grace.

If I’m being super honest, the times when I have struggled with jealousy have been when the people who didn’t always treat me with love and care seem to have great things happening in their lives. I’ve learned the value of letting that one go and pray blessings instead. After all, shouldn’t we be hopeful for their repentance and not obsessing over their lives? Wondering why it seems so blessed when they disregarded us?

The worst has been when I have been jealous of my spouse or a family member. As jealousy runs its course I start to despise them for no reason. Jealousy, dear friend, is a terrible poison. Don’t drink it. It will kill you first before it ever kills the one you’re jealous of.

Trust the plan of God. It is a good one. Let go of your jealousy. It only makes you hate people, which is the anti to the Kingdom mission of God. Love people and be willing to let any hurt they may have caused you go. That’s when you’ll find the truest freedom. Not in having what you want, but in gaining more of Him and a deeper love for mankind.

Father, thank you for your great love. It is glorious. It is beautiful. Truly, it is so lovely. We can trust you. We believe great things in faith because of Jesus. Our hope, joy and victory, Amen.

Let Go Of Yesterday

Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about tomorrow….Matthew 6:34

Friend, the Scripture tells us not to worry about tomorrow, which so very true, but I want to remind you to not fret about yesterday either.

Have you ever thought to yourself, when the pieces of the puzzle aren’t coming together that you somehow missed one the important pieces a few days ago and you’re trying to frantically figure out which piece it was, then mentally beat yourself up for not hearing correctly or doing whatever it is that you feel like you should have done to prevent this present place you’re in? I hope that’s not just me. I’m sure many of us have done it or are doing it.

Friend, life just doesn’t go perfectly. Although it’s quite possible we didn’t listen well to God, it doesn’t mean that we didn’t hear from Him. It’s just quite possible that He’s not working on our timeline. Sometimes I get upset with God because in my mind I think to myself, “Ok, this we’ll do this, then this, etc. and then we’ll be able to x,y, and z. Then, in realty, this and that don’t happen and I’m left disillusioned wondering when and how x, y, and z are going to take place.

Sometimes, in my frustration, I’ll take over and start trying to “help” God along. Trust me, it’s really not helpful. It just delays the best gift that He has for you. We would do well to wait on Him in the painful moments of waiting to receive the gift we can’t see just yet if we would be willing to trust Him.

Father, I can’t see what’s in front of me, but I trust the giver. You have your perfect ways and timing. You are so very good. Yes Lord, so good and we give you honor and glory for your goodness. We trust you, in Jesus name, Amen.