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4 posts from February 2011

February 22, 2011

Responding to God...

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Happy Wednesday, Friends!  Susie Larson here...

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 comment, share an insight, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend!

Also, I want to encourage you to check out my Faith Radio Blog. I post there more often than I'm able to here (several times each week). The posts are shorter and connect to our show themes, but people are enjoying them! And you can share the blog or a show with a click of a button. Every month we give away books from our Faith Radio shelf along with a Starbucks gift card to someone who posts there as well! Check it out: Susie's Faith Radio Page...

Now on to my topic...

Recently I read through the book of Acts and noticed something kind of profound, something that's still happening today. 

In chapter 14 we read about Paul and Barnabas in Iconium, preaching at the Jewish synagogue. Paul and Barnabas spoke with power and influence and the Lord our God was with them. Clearly, they loved God more than their personal safety. There was nothing self-serving about their ministry. Christ in them, was their hope of glory.

And as a result, Christ could trust them with His glory. 

God moved powerfully in and through Paul and Barnabas. And what was the result?

  • Humble, reverent earnest-God-seekers, responded to this movement of God in their midst. These sincere seekers were healed, encouraged, and saved. 
  • Rigid, pharisaical leaders stiffened up, got territorial and jealous, and viewed things from an earthbound perspective. These prideful unbelieving people stirred up trouble and tried to find fault with their supposed opponents. In fact, they wanted Paul and Barnabas dead. Ouch. 

Read this passage from Acts 14: 1-3

As Iconium, Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against their brothers. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of His grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. 

Even now, within the Kingdom of God, we have plenty of people building their own kingdoms. Maybe it's a kingdom of comfort, or association, or reputation. Maybe it's a kingdom of celebrity, or mega-status, or political correctness. 

But the Kingdom of God is always about Christ's saving work in our lives - moving and advancing to reach others with that same saving message.

The fact is, the Kingdom of God is ever moving, always flowing, and He is not interested in our fossilized methods, especially if they serve as obstacles to His presence. He wants us. He wants a living-breathing, freely-flowing relationship with us. He wants to move in us and through us and He reserves the right to disrupt our plans, our methods, and even our ideals in order to accomplish His other-worldly plans upon this earth.

Jesus didn't have a one-method way of doing things either! He healed people in a whole plethora of ways. He is not at all bound by the 'way we've always done it.' 

If Christ wants to move in our church or in our business or in our family in a new and fresh way, may we be the first to get out of the way and let Him have His way!

And what happens when we do such a thing? Fruit happens! Life happens! Power happens!

And how will people respond?

The sincere-earnest-Christ followers and seekers will be drawn to the fresh stream flowing from our lives, churches, and businesses. They will be nourished, healed, saved, and encouraged. Yes, Lord.

And the rigid-unbending pharisee? Well, they'll hate everything about it. They'll stiffen up; they'll find fault; they'll become territorial, and they'll turn into the sin police and watch for the slightest deviation from what they know to be right and true.

Now granted, we never want to deviate from the TRUTH. But in following Christ - who is the truth - we must know that He will lead us in ways we have not known before. He loves to do that and invites us to willingly trust Him, even if it disrupts our affection for appearing civilized and packaged at all times.

When God moves, may we move with Him. May we resist the urge to control our zone and to manage our methods. Let's put it all on the table and give God room to work.

Move powerfully in and through us, Lord!

~ Until next week

 

February 16, 2011

God Moments and the Patient Process...

Flame
Happy Wednesday, Everyone!  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 or story, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and friend! 

Now on to my topic...

This morning during my prayer time, this little passage jumped out at me: When they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped (Exodus 4:31).

Guess who that verse is talking about? I'm sure the reference from Exodus gives it away. In Exodus four we read about the time when God called the self-aware and unqualified Moses to do a mighty impossible task: to appear before the Pharaoh and lead the Israelites to freedom. And when the Israelites heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

The bummer part of that story is that it didn't take long for the Israelites to accuse, take up an offense, stomp their feet, shake their fists, and betray the one who stuck his neck out for them.

Truly though, when they heard of God's concern for them, it was a God-moment, sacred enough to bring them to their knees.

We must never discount those God moments when He speaks to us, makes promises to us, and gives us His divine assurance that He'll be with us no matter what. Because the thing is, those God moments often precede a battle where everything God has promised is threatened or seems up for grabs. Every time God makes a promise, the devil makes a plan. And when the enemy presses in, we can be tempted to grab for ourselves, gripe at God, and grind our gears in our own strength.

As I've said many times before, Lord, help us to remember in the darkness what You told us in the light! 

It takes time to lay hold of the things God has promised us, not because God needs time, but because we do. He is fully committed to the idea of giving us a free will to make our own choices. He moves at our pace because He loves us and wants to keep us moving True North - in the direction of His ultimate plan for our lives. 

We must be patient in the process. Far too often, it's God who is waiting on us! The Israelites took 40 years to complete a trek that should have only taken a couple of weeks or so. Even so, God makes all things beautiful in their time. 

On the other hand, we can be completely submitted to His purposes in our lives and still feel like we are in the 'waiting season' forever and a day. God, at times, seems completely content to leave us in a desert season for far too long. Especially in the desert places, we must remember those God-moments when He showed up, spoke to us, and promised us His provision.

Don't let the enemy sidetrack you with questions like, 'Did God really say...?" or "Do you really think He cares about this puny desire in your heart?" 

God loves us deeply. He puts dreams in our hearts. He speaks to His people. And the Bible says that His promises are backed by all of the honor of His name.

Trust in the Name of the Lord. He will not fail you! Cherish those God moments, they are loving gifts from an intimate Father. Hang on in faith; don't let go. In due time, the season will change and you will lay hold of what God's best will for you.

~Until next week.

 

February 09, 2011

Believing the Best...

Light Through the Trees
Happy Wednesday, Everyone!  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 or story, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and friend! 

I had a powerful show yesterday with bestselling author (and godly woman) Joanna Weaver. If you need a fresh reminder that you don't have to earn God's love, be sure to listen in. You'll be blessed indeed. Here's the link: Live the Promise with Susie Larson (and Joanna Weaver)...

Now, on to my topic...

We all go through seasons in life when we feel especially vulnerable and our insecurities feel close to the surface. During such times it's easy to misread people and situations. 

A trusted friend suddenly seems disloyal and distant. A co-worker pulls back and seems to be spending time with someone who doesn't like you. You walk into church and nobody seems interested in talking to you. Your pastor walks right by without noticing you. You no longer feel like you have your boss's favor.

When one or more of these scenarios happen in a short amount of time, it's easy to connect the dots, draw certain conclusions, and then react accordingly. Just recently I talked with someone who had a number of 'dots' out there. He had some legitimate reason for concern, but deep in his soul, he sensed that God was telling him to believe the best about others, not to jump to conclusions, and to continue on with doing the right thing.

His response was exactly right and at the end of the day, the little mishaps fizzled to nothing. Imagine if he would have taken the bait, gotten big and reactionary with his friends and co-workers, and stepped out of the authority and assurance that he had in Christ Jesus. 

We may have some real 'dots' out there, just begging to be connected, but that doesn't mean that the picture actually exists or is an accurate one. We need the mind of Christ not to draw wrong conclusions.

From now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view (2 Corinthians 5:16).

I cringe when I think of how many times I assumed people had bad motives when they didn't, or I assumed they we're mad when they weren't. Thankfully, many of those times, I kept my feelings to myself and brought them before God and found my footing once again. Interestingly enough though, I learned that in many of those situations, those people we're enduring their own struggles and would have greatly benefited from an extra dose of grace and love (which comes out of fullness; reactions, on the other hand, come out of emptiness).

We all tend to misread people and situations when something in them resembles a past painful experience for us. We must take responsibility for our actions and reactions, and we must pursue deep inner healing so that our past no longer has the power to diminish our current perspective and relationships. Remember too, the enemy overplays his hand when it comes to our unhealed areas. He prowls around, just looking for an opportunity to magnify a problem or skew a perspective. His goal is to get our eyes off of God and onto our fears and hang ups. He wants our past to keep speaking to us. He wants our wounds to perpetuate themselves. And he wants us stuck in the prison of an earthbound perspective.

You've probably heard me say this before, or read it in one of my books, but it bears repeating. If the devil can get us to live in reaction to our circumstances rather than in response to God, well, then, he has succeeded at stealing our joy and robbing us of the abundant life to which our souls are heir. 

Determine to believe the best in others this week. Even if their motives are off, you stay in the shelter of the Most High God and declare, My salvation and honor depend on God alone. HE is my mighty rock and refuge (Psalm 62:7). Determine too, to believe the best about God. He has your best interest at heart every single day. Even if your circumstances scream something different, refuse to draw a conclusion that disregards God's promises to you.

For the Believer, the only conclusion that matters is the one God has come to regarding us. We are worth everything to Him. We are loved, called, equipped, and chosen. We have everything we need and then some.

Have a blessed week~

 

February 01, 2011

Raw and Godly Authenticity...

Hipsta Sunrise
Happy Wednesday, Everyone! 

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 or story, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and friend! 

It's time to announce January's winner...and the winner is...Kathy Baker! Congratulations! Email me your mailing address at: susie@faithradionet.com and we'll get your gift card in the mail! 
One more thing...
We've had a couple days of powerful shows on Live the Promise. On Monday we talked about BIG FAITH behind our prayers and on Tuesday we talked about ASKING for BIG things when we pray (totally biblical, totally God's will). Listen if you get the chance! You'll be encouraged and inspired. Here are the links to those shows:
Excellent shows, both of them!  

Now on to my topic...

I love the story of when King David brought the ark of the God back to the City of David. He led the throng of people with excitement and jubilation. He danced before the Lord, not as a king but as a humble servant. King David removed his royal garb and wore only his linen ephod, which in those days was like the simple tunic slaves wore. His wife watched him from the window and was so appalled by this display of worship that she criticized him when he returned home. Let's read their exchange:

When David returned home to bless his family, Michal came out to meet him and said in disgust, "How glorious the king of Israel looked today! He exposed himself to the servant girls like any indecent person might do!" David retorted to Michal, "I was dancing before the LORD, who chose me above your father and his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the LORD. So I am willing to act like a fool in order to show my joy in the LORD. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, but I will be held in honor by the girls of whom you have spoken!"  So Michal, the daughter of Saul, remained childless throughout her life. (2 Samuel 6:20-23 NLT).

Michal paid a price for her self-preserving attitude.

David, on the other hand, didn't rest on his laurels or feel the need to appear dignified at all times. Underneath it all, he knew who he was: a servant of the Most High God. 

Do you notice how mightily God uses those who are willing to humble themselves before Him? Why then, do we work so hard to appear more put together than we are? Pure and simply, we need Jesus! Every day! Every hour! 

Not one of us has arrived and we won't until we cross the finish line and hear our Father say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." There's that word again.

Read this compelling excerpt from John Fischer's book, "12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee."
"I often wonder how a gospel based solely on the merits of the one who has died to forgive sin could be perpetuated on the merits of those who don't seem to need it. If the whole point of the gospel is forgiveness of sin, then why do we insist on continually parading these 'almost perfect' lives in front of each other? How has it happened that the people who proclaim forgiveness of sin don't seem to have any sins to be forgiven of themselves? How has a church that once was the happy possession of common fishermen and prostitutes and tax collectors become the home of the spiritually elite? There are, undoubtedly, numerous and complicated answers to this question, but I believe at the root of them all is lurking the issue of the Pharisee." (p.95). 

Now, of course, if we are serious about our walk of faith, we will grow into the likeness of Christ. Hopefully we are more loving now than we were last month; and more forgiving now than we were last year. But I believe that we are never more intimately linked in fellowship with God than when we are raw and honest before Him about our sin and about our daily desperate need for Him. Not because He doesn't know our sad state, but so that we can be lifted from it. 

And I believe that we are never more blessed in community and more one with each other than when we are raw and honest with a handful of safe, godly friends. We need each other on this journey and we are better together. 

May we, like David, shed all of our frivolous garb and celebrate God with reckless abandon! May we always remember that we are servants of the Most High God. And may we be humble enough to be real and honest about our need for Him.

Have a blessed week!