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4 posts from February 2009

February 25, 2009

Now is the Time!

BeautifulPath

Greetings, Dear Friends!


And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way. 

Each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to someone who posts on my blog. This month I'll give away a gift card from Starbucks. So leave a post, share a story or comment, and bless lots of people!

Now on to my topic...

Years ago I worked as an aerobic coordinator for a large health club system. The owners were meticulous when it came to excellence and customer service. We were drilled every which way about our mission, our customer, our goals, and how to implement those ideals into our specific departments. So, when we received some kind of recognition for excellent customer service, we weren't exactly surprised because it was something we worked hard at, something we had been aiming for. As you know, you don't just happen on upon excellence, you aim for it.

For those of you who've heard me speak or read this blog with some regularity, you've probably heard me say to 'get out your buckets!' About seven years ago the Lord spoke to my heart that in the future, He planned to release a great outpouring on the 'expectant' Church. His word to me: Get out your buckets! Prepare for rain! Prepare the soil. Remove the rocks of bitterness or the weeds of wasted time and cultivate an atmosphere for growth in your life. Plant lots of seeds of faith on behalf of your family, your nation, and the world. Be ready so that when the spring rain comes your planted seeds will spring up and produce a mighty harvest.

As I spend time with the Lord, I so strongly sense the urgency of the hour. While the world is running to and fro, completely freaked out by this economy (it is troublesome, that's for sure), a remnant of the Church will see its finest hour. 

In the Gospels we read about the virgins who had oil in their lamps (they were expecting their Groom to return), and the virgins who didn't have enough oil in their lamps (they got tided up in the affairs of life and were not prepared or expectant). Now is the time to fill our lamps with the oil of an intimate walk with God! Now is the time to plant seeds of faith by giving to those in need, fully believing that God supplies all of our needs. This is not a time to shrink back, it's a time to step up! 

Just as I worked very hard at excellent customer service and aimed for the target set by my employer, I work specifically to cultivate a listening lifestyle. I'm not surprised when God speaks to me because I order my whole day around giving Him room to communicate with me. Always, I try to keep an ear bent toward Heaven. Not that I do it perfectly, but I'm aiming at intimacy, I make choices to that end, and I know I have oil in my lamp. 

Things are going to get tougher before they get easier and we don't want the church running scared with the rest of the unbelievers. God's promises are true! He gave us plenty of warning and instruction not to get tangled up and bogged down by the cares of this earth. 

No matter your situation, stop for a moment today and set out your buckets of expectancy. Name them. Find Scripture to support your requests. Bring them before the Lord every morning. Give to the poor and to those who have less than you. Pray for your family and for the lost around you. Stand on the side of justice. Walk in faith, hope, and love. 

God is about to pour out a fresh and powerful time of refreshment for the Believer and I believe, to the extent that you prepare your soil now, will be the extent that you'll reap a harvest of righteousness later. 

God bless you, dear friend!

PS - If you haven't signed up for my quarterly Ezine, you might want to. A bunch of my author friends give away some of their books, I write a devotional thought, offer great book recommendations, and give you a prayer to send you on your way. Here's the link:

February 18, 2009

The Moment of Provision...

Cottageinthewoods


Greetings, Dear Friends!



And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way. 

Each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to someone who posts on my blog. This month I'll give away a gift card from Starbucks. So leave a post, share a story, and bless lots of people!

Okay, now on to my topic...

Last week we discussed the turbulent times we're living in and how important it is to be strengthened in the Word and strengthened in God's presence. 

I'd like to address another aspect of our faith in light of the storm clouds gathering overhead. I said this on the air yesterday and it bears repeating: Especially during these trying and uncertain times, we must be more God-aware, than news-aware. 

God's promises are still true. His promise of provision has not let up. Neither has the call to obey Him no matter what. We are still supposed to tithe, to give to those have less than us, and to believe with all our hearts - that we are called to be flow through accounts of God's blessing.

Imagine if most Believers pulled back and stopped giving to their local church because of fear over finances. First of all, their personal finances would only suffer more. Secondly, churches everywhere would start to fold (in fact, churches are closing their doors all around us). To step back and look at the bigger picture here, when a church closes, the community suffers loss. We have a personal responsibility here not to lose our heads in this crazy time.

So, just how do we maintain a mindset of faith in a day of fear?

We prepare for rain.

Think about your various areas of concern, or hopes, or dreams. Name them. Find Scripture to support these things your asking for. Set out your buckets today. Pray through each one - thanking God for hearing your prayer. Picture the raindrops starting to fall. Imagine them plunking into your bucket. Smile, because God is moving on your behalf.

Tomorrow during your prayer time, set out your buckets again. Name them. Bring your needs before the Lord, but not in a begging-pleading sort of way; in a faith-filled, thankful sort of way. Dear Lord, You promised to supply all of my needs according to Your riches, not mine. I thank you with all my heart that I have more than enough to live abundantly today. I'm believing You for great things! And I'll be back tomorrow to talk with you about these things again. I've set out my buckets of expectation and I am ready. Let it rain, Lord.

I've been naming my buckets for about seven years and they're so full, they're almost ready to spill over! Everything I'm asking for is Biblical and my faith is strengthened every time I pray through the promises God has made to me.

So, we've addressed the future concerns. We prepare for rain by setting out our buckets.

But what about today? 

Today we open our hands. In fact, we take our day one moment at a time. This moment is the moment of provision. Right now, God is supply our needs for the hour. Mercy, grace, and faithful promises are available right here, right now. 

I'm speaking to myself here. I'm up to my eyeballs in work right now, and I'm behind schedule in a way that makes me uncomfortable. But this morning as I prayed, I so strongly sensed the Lord saying to me, "Your deadline is not today, it's a few weeks from now. Today is a writing day, so write. Think only about the hour. Open your hands and I will supply what you need." 

Don't think about the future through a worry filter. Plan for the future in light of God's promises.

Prepare for rain and daily, tenaciously, bring God's promises before Him. He loves that. 

Inhale. Exhale. Now smile. God is with you.

Until next week~

PS - I hosted Along the Way yesterday (a two hour talk show). We had a great time. You can listen online or download it to your iPod if you want. Here's the link:


PSS - If you haven't signed up for my quarterly E-zine, you might want to. A number of my author-friends give away some great books, I offer some devotional insights, health and balance tips, book recommendations, great quotes, and a prayer to send you on your way. You'll enjoy it! Here's the link:

February 11, 2009

Strengthened by His Word...

Beautifulvermilionsunset

Greetings, Dear Friends!



And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way. 

Each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to someone who posts on my blog. This month the gift card comes from Starbucks. So stop by, share your insights, bless lots of people, and maybe you'll win a fresh cup of java for your and your friend. 

Now on to my topic...

In light of the turbulent times, how is your perspective? Are you feeling anxious, worried, and fearful? If you are, you're normal. I believe we have truly stepped into the beginning of the end. For those who mock Christ and make light of the God of our salvation, well, they should be worried, because for them, the news is not good. And of course, we need to pray for them and freely share the love of God with them.

But for those of us who are saved, we stand on the Provision of God, we walk in the Presence of God, and we cling to the Promises of God!

During the day, I am able to keep a sound perspective and for the most part, I'm able to consider the day in light of eternity. But recently I realized that I veer way off track at night, just before I go to bed. Since I work at home all day (writing and speaking prep), I never have the TV on. Nighttime, is my chance to catch up on the day's news. My husband and I put the timer on the TV and fall asleep listening to the news. My goodness, whose great idea was that?

I don't know about you, but I am NOT a night person. My ability to see clearly and reason through things diminishes incredibly. So to use that vulnerable time to try and process the reports of economic doom and gloom, well, that's just downright idiotic. 

Often times I go from peace and faith during the day, to anxious worry in the middle of the night. It's time for me to make a few adjustments. I'll catch the news while I'm of sound mind, and I'll feed my soul before I go to bed.

I want to share with you a Psalm that I believe is a Word for our times. My husband and I read it together every single day. God wants us to be confident and fearless. He wants us to be full of faith and standing on His Word. Now is the time to display the best of who God is. When everyone else is grabbing for themselves, may we be generous and lend freely. When everyone else runs to and fro in desperation, may God be the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. 

Read this powerful Psalm (112):

Praise the LORD! Happy are those who fear the LORD. Yes, happy are those who delight in doing what he commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will never be forgotten. When darkness overtakes the godly, light will come bursting in. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. All goes well for those who are generous, who lend freely and conduct their business fairly.

Such people will not be overcome by evil circumstances. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.  They give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will never be forgotten. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will be infuriated when they see this. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.


Let's read this Psalm every day until it gets into our soul, our perspective, and our core belief system. 


Praise the Lord!

BE JOYFUL.

Declare the blessing of God over your children!

BE GENEROUS 

Do not fear bad news!

BE CONFIDENT AND FEARLESS!

Declare influence and honor over your life!

STAND STRONG AGAINST THE THREATS OF THE ENEMY!


The times call for Believers to hope in the Lord and to stand on His strength. Be at peace once more, my friend. For the Lord has been good to you, and He'll be good to you again.


Have a fruitful and powerful week!


PS ~ If you haven't signed up for my quarterly Ezine, please do! I give away great books from my author friends, challenge you with a devotional thought, offer great book recommendations, and leave you with a couple of great quotes and a prayer. Sign up today! Here is the link:


Subscribe to Susie's Ezine...

February 04, 2009

The Balance of Grace & Fear...

Marthasbeach

Greetings, Dear Friends!



And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way.

Each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So be sure to leave a post, share a story, and bless lots of people with your insights.

For the month of January, the gift card is from Barnes & Noble. And the winner is...Tami Boesiger! Congratulations, Tami! 

Here's the catch: you have to email me to claim your prize. I don't have the time to chase you down. :) Tami, send an email with your mailing address to: info@susielarson.com  

Now on to my topic...

This past year I read a great book by John Bevere titled, "The Fear of the Lord." I loved this book! Here's an excerpt:

"When the doctrine of the love of God is not balanced with an understanding of the fear of the Lord, error is the result. Likewise when the fear of God is not balanced by the love of God we have the same results. This is why we are exhorted to 'consider the goodness and severity of God' (Romans 11:22). It takes both - and without both - we end up imbalanced." p.95

Without realizing it, many of us can tend towards an imbalance in one of these two areas: Either we're too casual with the things of God, thinking He will come through for us no matter what we do. Or we walk in such an unrighteous fear of Him that we can never relax in His presence. 

Unfortunately, neither of those scenarios describes a healthy interpretation of grace and fear.

Since I tend to think in word pictures, indulge me for a moment. As a Believer I like to think of myself as sort of a trapeze artist. Hang with me for a second. If I really take God at His Word, then I believe with all of my heart that He has called me to heroic feats that I could never accomplish on my own. Though I've never met a trapeze artist, I imagine they have a huge respect for gravity. I know I did as a gymnast. Standing on a four inch piece of wood (which back in the day, was not padded and had sharp edges), and bending backwards to do a back-walk-over required focus, precision, and a respect for the beam. I'm sure it's the same with the trapeze; even more so.

As Believers, we are called to high places and to do great things that we may not be qualified for, but as far as God is concerned, we're equipped for. But He doesn't take us to high places without some rigorous training on the ground. Through practice, and repetition, and focus, we learn to respect gravity. But we also learn that with God's help, we can stand on high places. (See Psalm 18:32-33).

To be who God wants us to be, and to do what He wants us to do, we need to listen to Him, respect and honor His Word, and do what He says. To me, to fear the Lord means that I will do what He says because I know that He will do what He says. God is mighty and true and He is serious about our obedience, and that we have faith, and that we grow in love. He means what He says and there are consequences for disobeying Him.

As trapeze artists, sometimes we're going to make the jump, miss the bar, and fall through the air into a blessed net. That net reminds me of grace. He's got us. He's made provision for our weaknesses and missteps. We don't live in the net, but it's there to catch us when we fall. 

If we count on a life of leisure and ease and call it grace, we miss out on the wonderful adventure we've been called to and we make light of the costly sacrifice of our Savior. Grace is there for those who earnestly seek after Him, but desperately need His mercy, every moment of the day. 

For those with an unhealthy fear, who don't trust God, and would thus never climb the ladder and take the jump for fear that God will be absent or mad that day...I pray, that you will put your hand in the Savior's, and let Him lead you to fields of grace. I pray that God will restore your joy and excitement and expectancy of what is possible for those who love and trust Him.

God is always good. He's always with us. And He absolutely loves it when we follow Him to the heights He's prepared for us. May we count on His grace and have a healthy reverence for who He is, because He is, after all, God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. And the fact that He even wants us to join Him on this journey is downright mind-boggling. 

Amazing grace.

Have a blessed week!