Wednesday, February 28, 2018

No Fear of the Dark

Year 6-Day 59: Today, I am grateful we don't have to be afraid of the dark.

Times are changing. In truth, I don't know that people have changed all that much, just the avenues of expression with modern technology. When darkness lies in the human heart, it strikes out when given the opportunity. There is free will... but on the other side, there is power and hope.

It all goes back to a bad decision in a garden. A pride and arrogance that grew out of listening to the voice of the serpent. Free will was a gift uniquely given, but it came with great responsibility to trust the truth that on tree was forbidden. It was for their own good to avoid that tree. They did for a season. Then, at Satan's suggestion, they began to doubt God. They abandoned trusting His word or his truth. Everything changed. 

The battle between good and evil is not just theology. It is real. We can look around and see that truth. On this last day of "Love Month", I am reminded that we are in the season called Lent. The forty days before Easter, when we celebrate a love that was willing to step down from heaven and fight the biggest battle of all. The battle over our death sentence caused by sin.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 6:23 (NLT)

I love that in the newer translations with more scholars to dig up the gems from the original Greek and Hebrew texts, free is emphasized. It is not a double negative. Some gifts have strings attached. Not this one, the free gift of God  is eternal life through Jesus. No need to fear death. He shed light into our darkness and changed everything. 

"I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark." -John 12:46 (NLT) 

We don't have to fear the dark. I find that the listening to too much news makes me crazy. I like to get a "snapshot" to know what is going on in the world, but unless my hands and feet can help, obsessing over the dark in the world builds anxiety. We need to be educated and help where we can. We need to pray for our leaders and protectors. We can lift our hearts to the throne of God, knowing that he hears our cries. 

We no longer remain in the dark, when we call on His name. He sheds light in our darkness. Sheds is a perfect word. If you have ever had a pet that sheds? It is everywhere, even long after the pet is gone. The price of Christ blood and the essence of his love sheds into our struggles and breaks the chains. (Good morning earworm, "Chainbreaker" is the song of the morning.)

"All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us." -Revelation 1:5 (NLT)

Imagine that kind of shedding of light. It conquers darkness every time. One small match or candle flame disperses the darkest night. Every time.  

Every time. 

Today, I am grateful we don't have to be afraid of the dark.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Love In Action

Year 6-Day 58: Today, I am grateful love is an action verb.

We must learn to not just speak words of love, but to act on them. Actions speak louder than words... and the to love in truth is to put others before ourselves. So counter-culture...  so Jesus. 

Years ago, we did a Willow Creek program called "Flipped". I didn't want to do it, because it used a video and I thought kids already spent too much time in front of the TV, but the team as a whole prayed and trusted that it was where we were being led that year. 

Wow! What a wonderful surprise it turned out to be. Some of the video still haunt my memory, and many days I have no idea where I parked my car. They were good. We all got flipped.

My favorite video was challenging for me, as I enjoy fashion and shoes. A teen girl told the story of showing up to youth group and discovering that there was a need for shoes. There were some who had none. It was an urgent need. The leader asked, "Who in this group would be willing to give up their shoes to meet someone's need?". 

The teen telling the story was wearing her favorite purple shoes. They may have even sparkled or shined. I understood favorite shoes. She wrestled with the decision, but in the end... she added her shoes to the pile. The sacrifice become freeing and created a sense of joy inside of her that she barely understood. We hold so tight to things, but love happens in actions and in truth. She chose to love as Jesus loved, and it filled her with something better than fabulous purple shoes. 

"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:18

John, the Beloved not the Baptist, penned the Johns in the back of your Bible. I believe most of "the Johns" were written in his later years in his ministry in Ephesus, but I don't know for sure. 1 John, especially, included important things he would want them to remember before leaving them. 

One Biblical scholar, Bob Utley, notes that 1 John is more of an "Impassioned Office Memo from Headquarters" than a personal letter. It is not addressed to specific people, but could be written to each on of us today. It is ultimately, God's word and John is just his scribe. 

The lesson in 1 John 3 help us to love Him and each other better. When your read it, don't forget to pause at the semi-colons to really reflect on what it means and how the thought after it connects. So much to learn in such a short passage. 

What "purple shoes" do I need to surrender in love? 

Today, I am grateful love is an action verb.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Hand Holding

Year 6-Day 57: Today, I am grateful for hand holding.

There is something romantic and sweet about holding hands. It is a simple intimacy. It brings about a sense of oneness and is a wonderfully encouraging. 

Holding hands says:
I want to be near you.
I want to keep you close.
We will walk as one.

I am with you... side by side.

To have a loved one hold our hand is a sweet spot in any day.  The calm reassurance that we are not alone. 

I found this Max Lucado quote:
"Your goal is not to know every detail of the future. Your goal is to HOLD THE HAND of the the One who does and never, ever let go." 

Anxiety is crippling so many these days. I have my moments, too. Still, we can "be still and know" that the great "I AM" is still on the throne and his hand still hovers over this pretty blue planet we call our temporary home. He is control and we can put our trust in Him, and take a deep breath.

Keeping priorities straight helps us to relax. First things first is a good approach for most things. Knowing what matters most helps us define our how we will spend our resources, including our most valuable one... our time. 

This passage addresses our priorities and reminds us of God's promise to never abandon us. 

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” -Hebrews 13:5 

Such a simple verse, but it hits on three important truths. We can use money but not love it. We can choose to be content with what we have. Our Lord has promised that He never abandons his children. We have a God who wants us to reach out and take his hand with hearts that trust him. 

Will we have the courage?

The simple affection act of holding hands pours love into our days... but it is so much more.  

Today, I am grateful for hand holding.

Sunday, February 25, 2018


Year 6-Day 56: Today, I am grateful for forgiveness.

Love is many things. Forgiveness is an important ingredient in any long term love relationship. When we truly choose to love... we are "all in"... with our whole hearts. In human relationships, there will be bumps and struggles. 

Jesus gave us such wise instruction, "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us." The the seeds of redemption seem to be planted in the soil of forgiveness. Forgiveness given and forgiveness received. Because no human is perfect, forgiveness is a necessary ingredient. 

Samuel's life was one of service to God. He was faithful and truthful, and that made him unpopular at times. He advised  the people against a king because God was to be their only king, but the people persisted. They nagged. They wanted a king. Finally, they were given what they asked for, but it would lead to many trials and troubles. Samuel wanted them to understand that God should be their true king and their first love. 

The people feared God and Samuel. Samuel continued to preach that God longed for the Israelites to be faithful and return to Him with repentant hearts. God longed for them to have a change of heart and to trust him in all things.

“Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him. -1 Samuel 12:20 

By this chapter in the historical record of Samuel, he was old and tired. That did not mean God was done with him. He had seen their sins and observed their fickle behavior. They wanted God to be at their beck and call when they were in trouble, but they wanted to live their own lives when things were going well. That attitude broke Samuel's heart. He pleads with them to "make sure now that you worship the Lord with all of your heart." 

"With all of your heart"... holding nothing back, creates an image. God already knew their sins and shortcomings. If they acknowledged them, repented and returned to Him, the relationship would be healed.  

Isn't amazing that He still offers that forgiveness to us today? He is our example so that we can love better in all of our relationships. Unforgiveness is self-destructive. It weighs us down. Forgiveness is freeing. 

 Today, I am grateful for forgiveness.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Promises Kept

Year 6-Day 55: Today, I am grateful for promises kept.

As "love month" still has a few more days, I am so glad I stumbled onto this image from "The Voice of Truth". 

A faithful spouse is such a gift. This world is full of temptations and marriage must be viewed as special and intentionally protected. "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." is a statement that is perfect for the binding covenant of marriage. 

It is a big promise. It means that we will choose to love, even in the moments that "like" is in question. Of course, "like" is a major factor in a good marriage. It helps us sustain and choose love daily, from sunup to sundown. Like, love, passion, romance, adventure, storms, sweet moments, smooth waters and trials all come in the marriage package. As in our faith, there are times we grow more in the struggles if we choose continue to choose love. 

Friends, love is not a feeling.  It is an intentional decision. Romance is more emotionally packed. It is good. But it is not enough to go the distance. Marriage is a perfect commitment to an imperfect person. Love is the glue. 

Billy and Ruth Graham were always a fun couple to watch. They were a team. He could not have done the things he did without her support and encouragement. I imagine, she would remind him to take some down time to rest and restore. He was so full of passion, he likely needed her to say. "Billy, slow down." or "Billy, have you prayed it through?" She was "with him" all the way, until her last day. 10 years they were apart, as she died in 2017. For her it was a blink of an eye, but the days for him, were surely long at times. 

I imagine Joshua felt a deep grief when he took the leadership of Israel after the death of Moses. He would lead them into the promised land. Moses had tough shoes to fill. The people could be impatient and difficult at times. Joshua knew it. He must have been in awe that God would intrust the people to his leadership... and he must have been overwhelmed. After 40 years. they were antsy and ready to claim the promised land. This is what God said to Joshua:

"No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you."  -Joshua 1:5

What a promise! It was a promise made and a promise kept. 

It is a great day to celebrate promises kept in marriage, in friendship, in family, in faith and the ones our God has planted in His Word that they might take root in our hearts and grow.

Today, I am grateful for promises kept.

Friday, February 23, 2018


Year 6-Day 54: Today, I am grateful for good examples. 

Perhaps Billy Graham is still on my mind. Or maybe that another lifetime friend faces her Godly mother's visitation and funeral today and tomorrow. And then, a new word is uncovered in the Greek from 1 Peter 2:21: hypogrammos (hupogrammos is the pronunciation).

In ancient Roman times, they used a tool for teaching someone to write in the way of the teacher. The teacher would use a stylus and a wax tablet to create a written original. The student would literally learn to write in the grooves of the teachers handwriting, so that the student could perfectly imitate and copy the teacher's writing. Before the printing press, this was a valuable tool. The master's words, handwriting and ways were under the students hand, directing their path. It was an example to follow and a guide. Imagine how precious such a wax tablet would become when the teacher died and was no longer with them. Priceless, right?

I have lettering templates and stencils that I use today in paper crafting and Bible Journaling. Some use graphite paper to trace images into their Bibles. One of my favorites is an artist named Jann Gray. She is a master at this technique and teaches it.  She traces images from things like photos and creates simple line drawings that she colors with great attention to detail. Jan has created a product called "One and Done" that allows us to trace her work and learn from her experiences. I fell in love with her art, but then I have had the privilege of getting to really know her heart. She seeks to imitate Christ and she does it beautifully through her art. I am grateful for her good example.

Let's go back to the verse from 1 Peter 2:21 and consider it again for the first time. 

 "For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps." 

Now, let's complete the thought in context of the text:

"He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly." 1 Peter 2:22-23

Peter lived and walked with Jesus. He is one Jesus kept very close. Peter was so passionate about Jesus, but he could be impulsive at times. Jesus needed to keep Peter close to let Peter walk in his steps. I love Peter. So brave at times... and chicken at others. I get Peter's struggle. Walking with the Master must have been so cool. He could touch him and imitate his tone of voice when he encouraged people. I can only imagine it. 

I am grateful we have His Word... and things like Blue Letter Bible to let us explore the original language. I am grateful for artists who help us grow by their example. I pray, that God may use each of us who choose to walk in his footsteps to be His hands and feet where they are needed most. 

Today, I am grateful for good examples. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Billy Graham

Year 6-Day 53: Today, I am grateful for the life and legacy of Billy Graham.

Yesterday, the news came that after 99 years, Billy Graham had departed the planet for his heavenly homecoming. What a host of heavenly reunions he surely encountered, but I imaging they had to wait for Billy to finish his moments kneeling at the feet of Jesus... or until Jesus told him to "Stand up and let me hug you, you God and faithful servant." 

I can only imagine it... but it is fun to imagine. When it comes to servanthood and a faithful life, Billy Graham was a champion, like a Super Bowl Champion, only bigger and better. Still, that image helps me relate. I remember how exciting it was to watch the Philadelphia Eagles this past Super Bowl. The excitement was contagious for the Eagles.  How much more it must have been for Billy's arrival in heaven! 

Billy Graham was an MVP among leaders of the faith. He strived to stay close to the heart of God and walk "the ancient path" so he would not be distracted by fame or lured by fortune. He was simply a man on a heavenly mission, commissioned by God, coached by Jesus and with the Holy Spirit whispering in his ear to guide and direct. There are so many great, spirit-inspired quotes that I could easily share a new one every day for month. 

He preached with confidence, but there was a humility, wisdom and peacefulness in his spirit that made him popular with government leaders and even queens. He could preach the truths of the Bible, even the unpopular ones, and do it with love and a heart broken for those who were carrying burdens, fears and anxiety they were never meant to carry any further than the cross of Jesus. 

So many posted yesterday. I discovered he was the first Youth for Christ full time employee. Mama Ina Mae was on the original board that started YFC in the Kankakee/Iroquois County area. How did I miss that part of the history? Thanks Ben Meils! I discovered a special friend, from my Bible Journaling group and Bible Study, accepted Christ at a Billy Graham Crusade many years ago (oh, Jann... that is so special). I never saw him in person. MMR (Mary Margaret Reed) posted a great picture of Billy Graham preaching.  

Then, my friend Susan Gilroy Cunningham posted this:

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God". Billy Graham (11/7/18-2/21/18)
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Philippians 1:21 

Thank you Susan. That will finish this gratitude post perfectly.

If I were Billy's family, that would go on my grave marker. "More alive than I am now." 

Testimony to the truth that sets us free from the penalty of death. Grace paid the wages in Jesus blood. Love calls each of us to carry the gospel to those who have not heard. I wonder if Billy is still hugging Jesus? 

Today, I am grateful for the life and legacy of Billy Graham.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Year 6-Day 52: Today, I am grateful for lavender.

Lavender is in the mint family... who knew? I didn't. It is considered a weed to some people, because it can seed and spread quickly. I am not sure why that would be a bad thing. Not all in the lavender family are the color shade we know as lavender, but plant that gives us the color name is one of the most familiar. 

It has amazing healing and comfort properties, beyond the fragrance that I have grown to really enjoy. Some people use it in the kitchen. A co-worker once brought in lavender lemon cookies that were really good. I love the sense of calm and happy the scent evokes. I have a lavender and lemongrass wax melt that is a family favorite. 

Lavender is full of essential oils. It can have powerful effects on the human body and has the most unique and beloved scents in the world. I didn't always love it. My first experiences with lavender, it was mixed with vanilla. Both lovely, but together, they were too much and too sweet for my senses. Others may feel differently. 

As for the health benefits, they are many. From reducing anxiety and relieving stress to aiding digestion. It, also, has anti-inflammatory and natural antiseptic qualities.  I am reminded of this scripture:
"The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.” -Ezekiel 47:12

The plants of the earth are full of wonder. 

Lavender... the color.. is just a shade and a little blue away from periwinkle, another favorite. Lavender colored blooms in the garden always add so much to the landscape. The color is regal but not pretentious. 

In Biblical times, spices were as valuable as gold. The Queen of Sheba brought camels loaded with spices to impress King Solomon. As for lavender specifically, I could only find lavender in the Message translation in the Song of Solomon... but mint is mentioned by Jesus. Interesting enough, it is in the spirit of correction for those who give generously and perhaps flamboyantly to the church, but neglect more important matters... people in need by neglecting justice, mercy and faithfulness. 

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. -Matthew 23:23

They were giving impressive, expensive spice offerings to God, but they were not loving the people. We mustn't forget the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. 

I think lavender is a great way to love people. My sweet friend Susie gifted me with some essential oils at my birthday. Lavender is in the mix for calm and peaceful sleep. When I apply it, it think of her gift and celebrate the healing and health properties. I savor the scent. 

Today, I am grateful for lavender.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Love Creatively

Year 6-Day 51: Today, I am grateful we can love creatively. 

For as long as daily gratitude continues, I will never let go of the truth that inside each of us is a creative spirit. How we manifest that creativity differs by gifts and personality. Since it is still "Love Month" - it seems a perfect day to give thanks for creative, artistic  love. 

Love is an art. It can be in the form of setting a magnificent table to make guests in your home feel like kings and queens. It can be a shared bowl of homemade soup with a single or widowed neighbor. It can be drawing a line of protection, standing up to the bully who is picking on the most vulnerable one in the room. It can be helping a collector purge and organize. Artistic love is simply sharing the snapshot of a moment a parent missed and sending it by phone. 

Art is not limited to one medium, and neither is love. 

Vincent Van Gogh is known for "a touch of yellow" in his art. I have borrowed brilliance for many scrapbook pages over the years. That kiss of yellow is a kiss of light, even when painting a starry night sky. I think love and light are closely related. 

Just for fun... when we are in that season of being winter weary (even if we are using every effort to intentionally not complain about it)... how can we love creatively today? Extra points if "yellow" or "light" are used. We can make our own sunshine with thoughts and deeds. 

Our God is certainly the essence of creativity. How he loves us is so amazing. A love that could not let go of his most precious creation. A love that found a way to pour light into a world that didn't even realize how desperately it needed to be saved. He found creative ways to rescue that still met his need for justice. He made what was designed to be a tool of death and torture into a symbol of home and freedom in the form of an old rugged cross. 

He is the Master and the master artist. We are created in His image.

So God created human beings in his own imageIn the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. -Genesis 1:27

The way to develop creative love is to practice it often. We are often inspired by "Random Acts of Kindness". Yes, it is a great day to love creatively. 

Today, I am grateful we can love creatively. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Compelled to Love

Year 6-Day 50: Today, I am grateful we can be compelled to love.

As human, we have many differences. We come from many different backgrounds that impact who we are and how we behave. Cultural norms, socio-economic influences and our families of origins are a part of who we see in the mirror. 

Just because something is the norm or culturally acceptable, does not make it good and right. We are called to new life when we choose Christ. That choice means some will view you as crazy. Hopefully, it is for the crazy love of Christ that changes everything. 

"Some people will not understand what the love of Christ compels you to do; do it anyway. - Sheila Walsh 

Note the semicolon. Pause, reflect and do it anyway. 

Someone once noted that Jesus spent most of his time with the very people others tried to ignore and avoid. The poor, the sick, the shady, the promiscuous, the annoyingly arrogant and those defeated by life.  They all needed to be saved from something and grace applied to their lives. Jesus profoundly deep love for humans did not interrupt his plans; it was His plan.(Could not resist the semicolon.)

When we are truly walking "The Way", it interrupts our well planned lives. It might look crazy to onlookers, but as Mama Ina Mae would say, "That's okay." His love compels and propels us to alter our days. 

"Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us." -1 John 4:11-12 (NLT) 

Francis Chan wrote a book called Crazy Love. It is challenging to those who naturally crave living in the "safety zone", and I am a "safety girl". Sometimes, when the Spirit whispers go... I am resistant. I hear my  Earworm singing the old song in my head, "Please Mr. Custer... I don't wanna go." Except it is not General Custer I am attempting to ignore... it is God leading. How many times have I ignored the prompting that would plant or water a seed of truth? I don't think I want to know the answer. Still... his word tells us this: 

"But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us."

Expressing love to others brings the God seeds of love in us to life. Love grows and blooms. We no longer need labels or to differentiate. Such things don't matter anymore. It isn't about where we come from, race, sex or bank account... we are brothers and sisters in Christ. 

"There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus." -Galatians 3:8 

"In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us." -Colossians 3:11

We are one. We are family. Yes, he compels and propels us to love more than we believed we could. When we plug into the true power source, we need not worry love will run out. Just as earthly parents love to see children living in harmony, so does our heavenly father. 

Today, I am grateful we can be compelled to love.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

No Need To Settle

Year 6-Day 49: Today, I am grateful we have no need to settle for less than His best.

What does it really mean to not settle for less than God's best in our lives? 

"Refuse to be content with just the knowledge of God, but insist on experiencing His presence."  
-Kerri Weems

"Insist on experiencing His presence." 
Kerri Weems is the author of the book "Rhythms Of Grace". I have not read it, but this quote makes me think it might have some beautiful gems inside. 

The quote took my heart to the passage that reminds us that God is not impressed simply by the fact we believe in him. He is not impressed by our ability to "be good". He never intended for us to struggle with doing the right thing or choosing the right path. I wanted the intimacy between us to be so important that we would naturally choose His way. Being His child means that good works will flow from a heart in sync with His heart. When we are seeking and chasing his heart, good behavior is a by-product. This has been debated across thousands of years, but the God never changes. Look at His Word: 

"Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God (God is one.). Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?-James 2:18-20 (ESV)

Knowing God exists is one of the first faith decisions we must make. We must first believe, but that takes us into the same knowledge category as the demons who shudder at that truth. I don't know about you, but that is not the company I want to keep. Believing is not enough. We must repent and receive.  

Many believe in God, but it isn't enough. Jesus came to restore the relationship broken by Adam and Eve's sin consequence. He came that ALL might have the opportunity to believe and receive. Yes, all. 

He came for Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews). "Red and yellow, black and white all are precious in His sight," as the old Bible song goes. Brown, tan, green, pink and peach colored, too. All of us. Jesus speaks to that truth over and over. So many times . His disciples then carried that message into future generations so that we, too,  might be believe, repent and saved. 

Jesus came to rock our the world, redefining what it meant to be sons and daughters of the living, present, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God. His left his Holy Spirit, who guides and directs us daily when we invite him into our lives. We must listen for the whispers and the nudges.

Just a quick scripture review. I had a plan but the boss of me added a few more.(wink)

"For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him." Romans 10:12

"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." -Romans 8:14

"But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." - Galatians 5:18

Hang with me. Just two more:
"But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." -Romans 10:8-10 (NLT)

That is a whole bunch of scripture, but it all points to the same thing. Knowledge is not enough. We must insist on experiencing His presence. I loved this next passage from the Names of God translation. It uses Jesus name in Hebrew... Yeshua. What a beautiful name it is in Hebrew, too. It feels warm, yet reverent rolling off the tongue. Last one:

"I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Yeshua our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation." -Romans 8:38-39 (Names of God Bible

So many passages, but they work together for our understanding. We don't have to settle. He designed us for relationship with him and he longs for us to return to that intimacy before sin entered into the world. Best friends, not "I know who He is" or casual Sunday morning acquaintances. We can experience His presence. 

Why would we settle for anything less than His best? 

Today, I am grateful we have no need to settle for less than His best.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Freeing Gratitude

Year 6-Day 48: Today, I am grateful for the freedom found in gratitude.

Freedom? I know that choosing gratitude is life changing. Every once in awhile, I uncover a new way to put it into words. Today is that day. This quote is from John Ortberg:

"Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation." 

John Ortberg is a tremendous teacher and speaker. He has a wonderful way of summing up big ideas in just a few word that keep me stewing, brewing and reviewing them for weeks. This statement succinctly expresses the wonder of living each day gratefully. 

Gratitude begins when we recognize that every new day is a gift. We didn't earn it. We don't really deserve it. God grants us with each new dawn, the chance to try again. This quote, also, points out that self-preoccupation is a prison. Yes, a prison.

Wow! I did not see that coming, but it is so true. There is liberation that comes when we open the gift of each new day and hand it back to Him saying "Not my will, but thine be done in my life today." In submission to His sovereignty comes peace, hope and true freedom. He is the chainbreaker. When we experience a soul deep desire to be His... it sets us free.

Our God seems to love a good paradox. Recognizing and trusting His hand, even when we don't understand his ways, allows us to be more joyful. Embracing that he understands the big picture, while we can only see one chapter... or one page... at a time. We can feel a little sick on the roller-coaster ride of life when it goes too fast or takes sharp turns. Still, we are challenged to be grateful in all things. When we surrender in gratitude, the chains of our burdens start to loosen and slip away. 

That childhood memory verse that seemed scary and mysterious at times, now calms my soul. It seems to be a theme in recent posts. That usually means I still have more to learn. I have not exhausted its lessons.  Here it is in the NLT version: 

"And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him." -Romans 12:1 

When we live our lives in gratitude it is an act of worship... from sunup to sundown. A satisfaction, the world cannot give and the world cannot steal, begins to fill our day. In gratefully laying each day before the King of Kings as an offering, He guides and directs our paths. It never was about what we can do for Him. It has always been about gifting him our hearts and lives and discovering what He can do through us and with us. Yes, God with us.

Immanuel... Jesus... Yeshua...God with us, for us and not against us. In knowing him as Lord, the chains that bind us to the meaningless things of this wanton world fall away. 

When God instructed the Israelites not to covet, it was to free them from obsessing over the possessions or blessings of another... from their homes and their well-behaved thick hair to their wives. When we are grateful for what we have... what we have becomes more than enough. In gratitude, our souls are refueled and set free.

Today, I am grateful for the freedom found in gratitude.