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4 posts from May 2009

May 26, 2009

Conviction versus Condemnation...

Marthassunrise

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's card comes from Starbucks. So leave a comment, share an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a treat for you and a friend!

Now on to my topic...

The other morning I woke up with a little knot in my stomach. I rolled over in bed, stared out the window and prayed, "What's this about, Lord?" Nothing came to me so I sat up in bed, walked over the window and waited for the sun to peek through the trees. I think sunrises and early mornings are one of God's best ideas. Even so, my heart was unsettled and I needed to figure out why.

I grabbed my cup of chai tea, my Bible, my journal, and a few other quiet time necessities and I headed outside to my deck swing. My happy place. I propped up my I-Phone, hit play on my devotional song play list, hugged my warm cup of chai tea, and inhaled the fresh morning air. 

As I listened to the words of a particular song, my thoughts roamed back to the day before. I had run into an old friend-acquaintance. We talked back and forth and caught up on our lives. I was about to share something about my life when the Holy Spirit whispered, "Not safe. Don't share that." I held my peace and listened to my friend's updates. But somewhere later on in the conversation, I went ahead and shared a part of my heart that God specifically had told me not to! She probably didn't notice, but I was instantly convicted that I blatantly disobeyed a very clear directive from the Lord. 

We wrapped up our conversation and I prayed the whole way home. Now this may sound a little thing to some of you, and big-fat-act-of disobedience to others, but either way, I know better. I asked forgiveness. I strongly sensed God's love and forgiveness. And more than anything, I knew He was just trying to protect me. 

So there I sat, hugging my chai tea, completely wowed by the sunrise when I realized that the fist in my gut was condemnation. The enemy had accused me all night long for being a disobedient putz. I woke up feeling pretty bogged down by it all. That's his MO - he seduces you, then accuses you for being such a dope for falling into his trap.

Condemnation throws us down, weighs us down, and intends to keep us down...as long as we are willing to entertain its wretched presence. 

But then there's God. 

His morning mercies are a priceless gift to us. He forgives us and restores and renews us in a moment's time. He uses us on Monday knowing we're going to blow it on Tuesday. His Holy Spirit comforts and corrects us. He directs us and helps us distinguish truth from the lie. He brings conviction when we stray and correction when we need it. 

Like the morning sunrise, the conviction of the Holy Spirit compels us to look up to Jesus; to stand up on His promises; and to rise up from the ash-heap of our self sins and be done with lesser things! 

Romans 8:1 is a blessed promise for us:

There is now therefore, NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! 

Read this wonderful passage from the Message paraphrase:

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air..(Romans 8:1-2)

May the Lord give us great discernment to quickly distinguish between conviction and condemnation. One protects the freedom we enjoy in Christ, and the other throws us into prison. And it's FOR FREEDOM that Christ has set us free!

Have a great week.

Hey, and if you haven't already signed up for my quarterly E-zine, you might want to! Every few months I email out an E-magazine filled with great things (free book giveaways from some of my author friends; a devotional insight; great book recommendations, great quotes, and a prayer to send you on your way). Click on the link below to sign up...


May 20, 2009

Do You Know Who You Are?

Stillwaters

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's card comes from Starbucks. So leave a post, share an insight or story, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend!

Now on to my topic...

The other day while reading 1 Samuel, chapter 15, I was intrigued and unsettled about King Saul's decline. He started out as a strapping, handsome, capable, unassuming young man with a respect for the things of God. But he evolved into a prideful, insecure, hasty, territorial leader who valued his opinion above God's direction, and this led to his demise. 

In one particular instance, God had commanded Saul to destroy a town because of its utter wickedness. Saul only partially obeyed. And when confronted by the prophet Samuel, Saul was full of excuses, and even threw his own people under the bus by telling Samuel it was their fault. 

Let's read Samuel's response to Saul (from 1 Samuel 15:17-19):

 And Samuel told him, "Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The LORD has anointed you king of Israel. And the LORD sent you on a mission and told you, 'Go and completely destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, until they are all dead.' Why haven't you obeyed the LORD? Why did you rush for the plunder and do exactly what the LORD said not to do?"

Saul had a wrong view of himself and of his importance. And so often, we commit the same sin. When we underestimate the call on our lives, we begin to value our opinion more than God's. We then elevate our emotions, our territory, our wants, and our desires way above our mission and our eternal significance on this earth. 

And what was Saul's response?

He initially denied his disobedience (ever do that?), made excuses (how about this one?), and blamed his fellow comrades (yup, I'm guilty). 

But when Samuel refused to let Saul get away with his side-stepping, Saul finally came clean. Let's read his response because it exposes his wrong thinking:

Then Saul finally admitted, "Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the LORD's command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded...

When a person loses sight of their value and their call, here are some of the side effects:
  • Low level of obedience
  • Pride and insecurity 
  • Fear of other's opinions 
  • Loss of eternal perspective 
  • Loss of the fear of the Lord   

We must understand how VALUABLE we are to God and that we are DIVINELY CALLED to listen to His voice, to obey Him moment by moment, to change the world for His Name's sake, and to bear fruit that lasts long after we are gone. 

We are treasured in God's sight. We are equipped with all we could ever need to do great things. We are covered by His promises and guided by His precious Holy Spirit. We know His voice and we follow Him.

When we see ourselves as God sees us, we will:
  • Walk in a holy confidence (a knowledge that we are something special to God)
  • Walk in a holy dependence (a knowledge that apart from God we can do no good thing) 
  • Embrace a Kingdom passion (a heart to build God's Kingdom and not our own) 
  • Embrace a Calvary love (a heart that grows in its capacity to love others)

May you remember once again how important you are - because you were designed and called by God. May you hold loosely your emotions, your opinions, your territory, and your imagined rights, that you may cling tightly to God's promises and His place in your life. True humility is simply having a right view of ourselves in light of eternity. We are small; we are nothing without Him, but everything to Him.

Have a blessed week!

Oh, and if you haven't signed up for my quarterly E-zine yet, you might want to! Every few months I email out an E-magazine that offers some great book giveaways from my fellow author friends, a devotional, book recommendations, great quotes, and a prayer to send you on your way. Sign up by clicking the link below:

May 13, 2009

Know...

Backyard sunrise


Greetings, Dear Friends!


Susie Larson here...

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 leave a post, share a story, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a little treat for yourself. This month's gift card comes from Starbucks. 

Now on to my topic...

How do you respond to stress? 

I clench my jaw at night which makes for a powerful headache in the morning. For the longest time I considered jaw-clenching an involuntary reaction to my level of stress. I now realize that when my thinking defaults to stress, my jaw-clenching kicks into gear. 

How about you? What is your default response when things feel unmanageable?  Do you get anxious, mad, overly busy? Or is yours an opposite response? Do you sometimes get so overwhelmed that you camp in front of the TV and eat more than your body requires?

Lately I've been meditating on the wonderful Scripture, "Cease striving and KNOW that I am God." (Psalm 46:10).

Picture two rivers. One with a strong current pushing the waters south, the other, with a steady, powerful current flowing north. God is our True-North. We can either jump in the southbound-river of striving and straining and continually battle the currents of self, or we can hop on an inner-tube and ride the northbound-river of God's power and provision. 

To cease striving is to know - with utter assurance - that God is who He says He is. He is in control, profoundly good, enormously huge, divinely capable, and more-than-enough for us. 

When we step back, take inventory, and thus glean our perspective from our feelings, our understanding, and our own resources, we will undoubtedly find ourselves in the wrong river. We waste  a lot of energy battling our wrong perspectives. When we allow ourselves to get into a tizzy, it's because we've put too much weight on our own abilities and resources. We've become strivers. 

But God says to us: "Stop that. Don't do that. Cease. Cease striving. Cease striving and KNOW. Cease striving and KNOW THAT I AM GOD. I am God. Do you know that? Do you really believe that I spoke the world into being and that I delight in every detail of your life? Your job is to trust and obey. To live by faith. To walk in love. I've got the details. Refuse stress. When you're tempted towards striving and straining, turn away from such thoughts. Hop in My river and let My current take you where you need to go. Peace. I speak peace to you, My precious one."

Proverbs 9:10 is a great verse: Knowing the Holy One results in understanding. When we know Him, we understand why He allows us to walk through hard times (because there's something in it for us). When we know Him, we trust Him. When we know Him, we consider the treasure of His heart more blessed than the gifts from His hand. When we stop striving and hold on to our 'knowing' life - even amidst great difficulty- becomes peaceful, powerful, and completely doable.

Take a deep breath in. And exhale. Know Him more today. Trust Him with your whole heart. He is good. His God. And He is far greater than our minds can comprehend. 

Walk in His presence. Embrace His promises. Count in His provision. 

He is faithful!

Until next week~

PS ~ if you haven't already signed up for my quarterly E-zine, you may want to! Four times a year I email out an E-zine filled with great book giveaways from fellow authors, a devotional thought, great book recommendations, and a prayer to send you on your way. Women love it! Sign up here...


Blessings!


May 06, 2009

Just Like That...

Breakthrough Sunrise

Greetings, Everyone!



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 leave a post, share a story or insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe, you'll win a little treat! 

It's time to announce April's winner. Drum roll please...

Helen Martin, you are the proud winner of a $10.00 gift card from Target! You have to claim your gift card (before I award next month's winner) by emailing me at: info@susielarson.com

And remember, no using your gift card on nasal spray or toilet bowl cleaner. You have to buy something fun just for YOU! Congrats!

Now on to my topic...

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I've been walking through some kind of spiritual battle. Oppression, weariness, and wretched, age-old Lyme symptoms pressed me on all sides. And yet, every time I brought this battle before the Lord, He simply told me to stay focused, keep walking, keep my eyes fixed straight ahead, and put one foot in front of the other. So that's what I did. 

 A pastor/counselor friend of mine once told me about a prayer he often prays during his counseling sessions. After listening to a person's story of struggles and trials, he whispers a prayer, "Lord, show me what's going on in this person's life. Is it a sin or a test?" I love that.

Since I keep a close watch on my life, my heart, my attitudes, and my choices, I knew this particular battle wasn't about sin. I knew the enemy was pressing hard and I knew that in due time, I'd get on the other side of this trial. 

Last weekend I had a speaking event in Maine. On Friday morning I enjoyed a great time of prayer in my hotel room. Just-like-that, all at once, the oppression lifted and joy came flooding back in. I don't understand it, I can't explain it, I just know that I loved it! In a moment, I was my-happy-self again. 

Here's a verse that really spoke to me:

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on His God (Isaiah 50:10).

Sometimes our angst stems from disobedience or procrastination. The fact is, we are going to be miserable until we do the very thing we know God wants us to do. Are you side-stepping something God wants you to do? Are you procrastinating on a difficult task? I have something to say to you: Do your thing! :) It's more difficult and takes more energy to avoid the task than it does to stop in your tracks and do what you know you should do. The great thing about this scenario is this: there is forgiveness for all of God's children. His mercy rains over us when we bring our putzy ways before Him. We wraps His arms around us, loves on us, and fills us with His grace. Just like that. 

Isn't it great to belong to God?

If your heaviness is from oppression or spiritual resistance, hang on and hang in there. God is developing perseverance, patience, and gritty character in you. Keep your eyes on Him; keep your feet moving on the path He has for you, and don't make any big decisions during this time. No quitting your church, your job, your marriage, or your friendships. Stay the course, resist the devil, submit to God, and in due time, you're breakthrough will come (along with great blessing and clarity about what God has next for you).

I love this quote from my study Bible:

"Patience is not a passive resignation to adverse circumstances, but a positive steadfastness that bravely endures." (p.1751).

Are you in need of a breakthrough? 

Stay close to the heartbeat of God and your breakthrough will come. Just like that.

Have a blessed week!

Oh, and if you haven't signed up for my quarterly E-zine yet, you might want to! A number of my author friends give away their great books. I write a devotional thought, offer some great book recommendations, and leave you with a prayer to send you on your way. Here's the link in case you're interested: