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3 posts from May 2010

May 25, 2010

Good Gifts...

Greetings, Dear Friends!

Susie Larson here...

I'm writing this post from sunny Florida (on my husband's computer). Unfortunately I do not have access to my pictures so this post will be picture-less. So sorry.

For those of you visiting this blog for the first time, welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way. Every month I give away a $10.00 gift card from Starbucks to someone who posts on my blog. So share a comment, a story, or an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend!

Now on to my topic:

A couple of weeks ago we were in Nashville to move our son home from college. We were there just one week after the terrible flood. I peaded with my husband to pack my bike for the trip just in case I'd be able to get out on the trails with my son. After all, the bike trails are one of my happy places, and riding with my son makes it a happier place still.

Jake and I had no idea what shape the trails would be in but the sunny day beckoned us to mount our bikes and set out on an adventure. We were surprised to find the trails caked with mud from being under water only one week prior. Holding on to our handle bars with a better grip, we took on the caked and bumpy trails. At one point I looked up at the trees to see a mud line where the water had been - over our heads. Hard to believe.

Jake and I rode hard and fast until our lungs screamed for air (my favorite kind of bike ride). We stopped at the end of the trail and talked about life, and health, and prayer. Then we turned around and rode just as hard back to his house. It was a total blast.

It used to be, Jake rode his bike every once in a great while. But more recently, he's been riding almost daily; he rides long distances at a good pace on a pretty cheap bike. This is such a healthy hobby, I so want to help him in any way I can. Lately I've been thinking about putting a gift package together that includes a new bike helment, bike jersey, water bottle, and some carb treats. I smiled just thinking about it. And just as quickly the thought crossed my mind: if I, as human as I am, relish the thought of giving good gifts to my kids, how much more does God treasure the thought of giving great gifts to His children?

He is always good. He knows us so very well. He is never late. He knows what we need and even what we desire.

During my busy speaking season, I longed for a vacation, but those months were set aside for work, and work we did. And yet, what fruitful times they were! Now that I've completed my season, I can really rest. And my rest is especially sweet because I can look back over the past several months and see how God forged a reslliance in me to keep on going when I wanted to quit. He taught me obedience through some of the things I suffered. And His grace sustained me when I was painfully aware of my weakness. His gifts to me in those seasons were grace, strength, praying friends, changed lives, and fresh mercies. Oh, amidst the labors of love, I wanted an iced tea by the poolside, but what He gave me far surpassed my immediate desire. And now, when I sit by the poolside with an iced tea, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for rest, but even more so for God's faithful knowledge of what I needed and when I needed it.

He is always good.

What about you? What kind of season are you in right now? Do you know Him enough to trust Him? I pray you do. He loves to give great gifts to His kids. He is an ever-present help in times of trouble. He is your stronghold of protection, your deliverer in the storm, your defender in conflict, and your provider in times of need. He will lead you beside still waters when that moment of rest will strengthen you most.

Right here, right now, God is dreaming of ways to be good to you; to take care of you; and to strengthen you for His beautiful purpose for your life. He may ask you to run when your legs are screaming for rest; He may call you to rest when you're sure you've got the steam to run. He may ask you to wait when you're sick and tired of waiting. But know this, my friend: He is so infinitely good that He will never withhold something that is perfectly good for you. He won't delay His good gifts one minute longer than is necessary. So if God isn't giving you what you think you need, look past your need and try to see His heart, because He's always good and His heart is set upon you.

Open your hand and trust His heart. In due time you will see His goodness unfold before your very eyes. And as you behold the wisdom behind His ways, you'll understand in a fresh new way, just how rich you are as an heir of God.

Live and function from a place of knowing who you are and whose you are. You are the object of God's affection and you are a joint heir with Christ (See Romans 8:17).

~Until next week.

May 19, 2010

Evidence of Our Christianity...

BeautifulPath  

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 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog.  So leave a post, share an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a fun treat this month!

I am thinking of changing things up on my blog and posting shorter pieces twice a week rather than a longer piece once a week. Let me know what you think of that idea...

One more fun piece of information:

Post a review of my new book, "Growing Grateful Kids" on Amazon and enter to win a 4GB I-Pod Shuffle! 

Now on to my topic...

It's been an eventful week thus far. My mom was taken by ambulance to the hospital due to some heart issues (she's okay now), and my brother in law and nephew were in a horrible boating accident leaving my brother in law seriously injured. For the Believer, tough times always remind us of our moment by moment need for Jesus.

The other day as my son and I drove home from the hospital, we talked about the day when Jesus returns. I said to him, "You know, there are plenty of people who think they are saved, but are not. There are plenty of people who expect to be taken up who will be surprised to be left behind. The Bible says that there are even those who performed miracles in Christ's name, to whom Jesus will say, "I never knew you." 

Read Matthew 7:21-23 from the Message paraphrase:

"Knowing the correct password—saying 'Master, Master,' for instance— isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.'

Very sobering, don't you think?

Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us that we are saved by GRACE, and that it's a GIFT of God and not a result of works, so that not one of us can brag about it. We are saved by grace, but the authenticity of our salvation is proved by the fruit that comes from our lives. And we don't produce 'more fruit' by cranking out a bunch of good works that make us look like good Christians. We produce fruit to the extent that we abide in the Vine. Daily, moment by moment nourishment from our Life Source is what gives us life and grows fruit that through us, nourishes others.

My heart breaks to thinks of the millions of people who, by association, consider themselves Christians. They go to church, they may even be involved in church activities, but their personal lives bear no evidence that a living-breathing Savior resides within compelling them to cultivate an atmosphere of growth in their lives. 

What are the fruits of the Spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control. And further evidence that we have a thriving-intimate walk with a loving Savior? An ever-increasing sense of gratitude and humility.

For the truly saved, there is an overwhelming sense of what we've been saved from, and of what we've been forgiven. If we are loosely casual with God's unfathomable offer of forgiveness, then we are not clear on the depths of our offense or the weight of our debt. Because if we truly understood the eternal significance of our sin, we would be overwhelmed by the eternal significance of God's gift to us through Jesus Christ's finished work on the cross.

As we grow in Christ, we become increasingly grateful for His forgiveness. Why? Because the more we understand His greatness, the more apparent our nothingness becomes. And in understanding our insignificance apart from Christ, we become overwhelmed that Jesus would want to make something significant of us in spite of our human nature. Truly amazing.

The longer I walk with the Lord, the more grateful and joyful I become. The more I learn about my Savior, the more I am overwhelmed that I get to be associated with Him. Even though His purity exposes my carnality, it only inspires gratitude because His goodness swallows up my badness.

Oh, my heart aches for the multitudes who consider Jesus a casual acquaintance. He didn't come to us on those terms! 

May our lives bear the evidence that the Savior of the world lives and breathes through us! And may our ever increasing passion for His presence, His Word, and His concerns shout to the world that Jesus lives and He lives in us!

Have a blessed week~

PS ~ I'll be on a much-needed vacation next week but I'll be back the following week. Thanks for your patience. Bless you.

May 05, 2010

And More Will Be Given...

Sunpeek  

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 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog.  So leave a post, share an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a fun treat this month!

I am thinking of changing things up on my blog and posting shorter pieces twice a week rather than a longer piece once a week. Let me know what you think of that idea...

One more fun piece of information:

Post a review of my new book, "Growing Grateful Kids" on Amazon and enter to win a 4GB I-Pod Shuffle! 

Now on to my topic...

Well, as some of you may know, I've got a new radio show! We started recording this week (we're set to air in June). Here is the link in case you're interested: Live the Promise with Susie Larson

Anyway, yesterday I interviewed author and evangelist Matt Brown, and let me tell you, we had a powerful-God-time in that studio! I can't wait for that interview to air. Matt is a young twenty-something guy who has already evangelized tens of thousands of people. He is a young Billy Graham. When I asked Matt about his passion and conviction for his generation especially, he answered (my paraphrase here), "Even if Jesus doesn't come back during our lifetime, it's the only lifetime we've got; the only chance we have to reach the world for Christ, and to live powerfully for Him." 

That statement set the stage for the rest of the interview. We could literally feel God's presence in the studio as we went on to discuss what it means to live for God. 

Well, this morning as I prayed about today's blog post, the words, "And more will be given" kept running through my mind. And I think it's a great topic for today. Especially in light of Matt's comments about making the most of the hour in which we live.

May we give God our listening ear, our hopes and passions, our gifts and talents, and even our weak and feeble attempts to serve Him. God is the Divine Multiplier! He takes our puny little offering and He makes something of it. And, He deposits Heaven's resources into our lives because He is after a return on His investment in us.

Let's look at a couple of verses that speak to the 'more' that He wants to give to us:

Matthew 13:12

To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.

What's exciting to me is that God calls us to LISTEN, why? Because He has some things He wants to say to us! God wants to speak to us!  In fact, the Bible also says that God - the Creator of Heaven and Earth - confides in those who fear Him. He leans in and whispers profound secrets of wisdom and truth to those who honor and esteem His Name. Isn't that just amazing? But since that's true, oh, we must remember that He is God and thus, be ever listening for that still, small voice.

How many times throughout the Bible do we read these words, "Listen!"? In the New Testament, God speaks out these words, "This is My Beloved Son. Listen to Him." 

To whom much is given, much is required. Since God has given us His Son that we might have access to His presence and promises, He expects that we will listen and respond to His direction and leading in our lives. And it's not because He is a control freak. He is LOVE. He is GOOD. He knows BEST. And loves us MOST. He has our best interest at heart and is very protective of our lives and our dreams. He knows that we can't go this alone. 

For those who heed the gentle voice and who do what He says, more clarity will be given. More insight and inspiration will be entrusted to them. Imagine, God's voice becoming clearer to you; more distinctive; more profound. What a priceless gift He has offered us here.

But there's a downside to this promise. Those who get so busy with life that they miss what He says, will lose their sense of spiritual receptivity. Those who coddle their fears more than they cling to the promises of God, will not hear God's voice when He calls them to a more spacious and free place. Can you think of a more devastating loss than to lose the sense of God's voice in your ear? 

It matters if we listen or if we don't. 

Here is another verse to consider:

Matthew 25:29

To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.

Here again we are called to steward well what we've been given. If we take for granted the gifts of God, they will, in due time, slip through our fingertips. 

What have you been given? If you've received any encouragement from others, give some away. If you have food in your cupboards, give some away. If you've been offered a forgiveness you don't deserve (which, you have) offer forgiveness to someone who doesn't deserve it. 

And how about the gifts and talents God has given you? Whether you work in the ministry or in the corporate world, whether you're raising children or caring for your elderly parents; all of these are sacred when done with Jesus in mind. Bloom where you're planted. Use the gifts God has given you for His glory. Live with passion, conviction, courage, and compassion. Sow seeds of faith. Embrace hope. Walk in love.

Let everything you do, be done with Him in mind. And as you pour out your life to a world in need, more - much more - will be given to you.

~Until next week

(PS - I'll be away on a media trip next week so it might be tricky for me to post on my blog - but I'll do my best). :)