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4 posts from June 2011

June 22, 2011

Make Space for Hope...

Backyard Sunrise2

Happy Wednesday, 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 jolt of java for you and a friend!

Now on to my topic...

Yesterday on Live the Promise, I interviewed my friend, author Tricia Goyer and her co-author, novelist Robin Jones Gunn. We talked about their new book, Praying for Your Future Husband. We had a great discussion about the importance of engaging the Lord in prayer for your future spouse. I can't even remember in what context she said it, but at one point, Robin said, "We have to make space for hope." or "There's always a place for hope." Something like that. Either way, that concept really resonated with me. 

For the Christ-follower, hope is always an option. So when life crowds our perspective and clouds our view, we have to push back on what presses us and give ourselves some room to find hope again.

I don't know what life is like for you but I can guess that you have more work to do than time to do it. Maybe your heart aches for an unfulfilled request. Or maybe you've been misjudged or misunderstood. So painful. Or, maybe you're in need of physical healing. May God grant the desires of your heart! If you've lost hope, or if your hope has faded to a dull shade of gray, it's time to grab hold of hope once again!

Last night we were under a tornado warning. I heard there was actually a touch down nearby. Once the storm passed by, the sun broke through creating silver linings on those once dark and looming clouds. And when the storm was over, the air was especially fresh. The birds sang, the scents came alive, and the gentle breeze called my name.

I just had to get on my bike and hit the paths. Yes, I had dishes in the sink and 400 emails in my inbox, but I'd been working all day and I desperately needed some time to behold the greatness of God. 

So I pushed back my task list; told it to get in line and take a number. I looked at my dishes and said, "Be right back" and I hopped on my bike. I can't even express to you how glorious it was. At certain times during my bike ride, my mind raced through my extensive task list. And yet, with every ounce of grit I had in me, I took those thoughts captive and put them away. I was determined to stay in the moment and breathe in the nourishing power of the moment. And nourishing it was! 

Psalm 19:1-2 says this: The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.
 Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.

Day after day God pours forth wisdom, words of love, and affirmation for us because we are the apple of His eye. Day after day He speaks to a waiting and watching world. The problem is, so few are waiting or watching.

If you are in a funk and your life has become a series of responses, do this: push back on all that presses you and make some room, make some space to hear from God, to be nourished in His presence, and to find your strength in Him.

The Lord God Almighty is with you, He's for you, and He makes Himself available to you. Make yourself available to Him. You'll find your soul's deepest needs filled and your hunger satisfied in His presence.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him (Psalm 62:5)

~Until Next Week

June 15, 2011

Preparing for a Breakthrough...

Break Through Hey, Friends! Susie Larson here...

Happy Wednesday. 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 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 jolt of java for you and a friend.

Now on to my topic...

Has God put a desire in your heart that you've yet to see come to pass? Where are you in that process? Is the wait getting old? Are you starting to wonder if you heard God right? Have you given up altogether? Well, I hope today's post encourages you.

Maybe you're waiting for a promised blessing to come your way, or hoping for a loved one to come to Christ. Or maybe you're believing God for a promotion in ministry. Or, maybe it's healing you need. God is in the business of keeping His promises, saving the lost, engaging the saved, and healing our wounds! It is His will that we seek Him, find Him, serve Him, and find our restoration in Him.

He is always good and He puts certain desires in our hearts that we might pray them into fruition. Of course I'm not talking about 'name it claim it' theology, but I am saying that God sets eternity into the heart of man. He drops desires into our hearts because He intends to fulfill them. We must pay attention to the longings of our hearts. Sure, at first they may be unrefined or misdirected, but as we dare to place our hearts' desires before the Living God, He will shape, fill, and bring clarity to His desires for us.

Just yesterday morning I was reading in 2 Samuel chapter 7 and I noticed something very interesting. The prophet Nathan spoke God's promise to David and David's first response was to humbly bow and thank the Lord. Let's look a little closer at David's response to God's promise (my basic paraphrase of 2 Samuel 7:20-22, 27):

What more can I say to You? You know what Your servant is really like, Sovereign Lord. Because of Your promise and according to Your will You have done all these great things and made them known to Your servant. How great You are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like You! And now, O, Lord, do as You have promised concerning me and my family...I have been bold enough to pray this prayer because You have revealed Your promises to me...

This is what I have learned about standing in faith while waiting for a breakthrough:

1.) Humble yourself before the Living God. Then make time and space to hear from Him. He will speak to you about His desires for you.

2.) Pray and believe that His Word is true and that His promises are backed by the honor of His name. How often do we pray without engaging any of our faith muscles? You know the difference between rote prayers and faith-powered prayers! Once God has revealed His promise to you, be bold like David and lay hold of it through prayer!

3.) Give thanks and embrace contentment for your current lot and your daily blessings. There's much to thank Him for today! He has blessed you today! Stay in the moment while believing Him for the future.

4.) Stay in the Word and trust Him to confirm His way for you through His Word.

5.) Refuse an unbelieving heart or a striving spirit. When you catch yourself living in reaction to these things, get back to that place of peace. Be still and know that HE is God! (Ps. 46:10).

6.) Trust His timing and process in this matter. He knows best and works all things together for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).

7.) Remember that every promise He makes has eternity written all over it. In other words, His blessings to us are for more than just us. His promises to us are meant to spill over onto others and to create a ripple effect that we will carry with into eternity. No matter how we choose to view our hearts' desires, there will always be a broader perspective to gain and a bigger picture to see, because when we fully lay hold of His promises for us, our breakthrough will deeply impact and bless others. That's why things take time. And it's always worth it to wait for God's best.

Wait on the Lord. Listen for His voice. Take Him at His Word. Stand on His promises. Refuse unbelief. Choose humble gratitude and tenacious faith, all at the same time. And finally, step back and see your life from God's point of view. He's up to something so much bigger than you can imagine.

Isaiah 64:4 ~ For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like You, who works for those who wait for Him!

~Until next week.

 

June 07, 2011

Start Again Today...

Backyard Sunrise2

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

Now on to my topic...

One day a couple of months ago, someone paid me a compliment that actually surprised me. A high profile woman said to me, "You are a really good writer." Her words jolted me in a way they shouldn't have. I realized I had given up some ground in my thought life with regards to my writing life.

Let me explain. My last book came out a year ago. I set book-writing aside for a few seasons to launch the radio show. Most of my author friends are primarily writers who speak once in a while. They daily practice their craft. They've honed their skill. And they are excellent at what they do. I was a speaker before I was a writer. And then I got into radio. Only a fraction of my time goes to writing. When I write a book, I spend a few months grinding it out and then I go back out on the road again. Most of my author friends can write circles around me because they spend consistent time applying themselves to it.

This past year my focus has largely been on radio and speaking. So when harassing thoughts swirled around my head like, "You can't write" "You don't know what you're doing when it comes to writing" "You have nothing to say" - instead of stopping those thoughts in their tracks, taking them captive, and putting them in prison, I simply waved them away like an irritating gnat. I didn't take care of them and as a result, they multiplied in my midst. 

When that wonderful, sincere compliment came my way, it actually sounded untrue because for too long, I had tolerated a lie. I had given up ground that God had entrusted to me. I'm certainly not the best writer I know, but I'm not the worst either. No matter. God has given me something to say and I'll never hear Him clearly as long as I give any air time to that lying enemy of our souls. 

Just because I wasn't in book-writing mode doesn't mean I didn't need to guard my yard. 

How about you?

Have you given up some ground by not defending it against the lies of the enemy? Has the enemy crept onto your territory and tried to re-claim certain places that belong to you? Maybe related to your identity? Your future? Your calling? Your value? 

Don't beat yourself up. Just rise up, raise your shield, and take back your land! It doesn't matter if God's truth doesn't feel true for you. It's still true. You are valuable. You are gifted. You are called. You are loved. You are treasured.

You have certain gifts entrusted to you and God absolutely LOVES to see you in your sweet spot - using those gifts in the very ways He planned for you. Here again is the call to be more God-aware than self-aware! 

It doesn't matter if or how the lie overshadowed the truth, what matters is that you and I start again today, affirming what's true about us because we belong to God. 

Lead me by your truth and teach me,for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you (Psalm 25:5). 

~Until next week

June 01, 2011

Performance for Acceptance vs. Obedience because of Love...

Heleadsmepic Greetings, my 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 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. It's time to announce the winner for the month of May: 

And the winner is...Kathleen Martin. Congratulations, Kathleen! Please email me your mailing address at: [email protected] and thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and insights. 

Yesterday on Live the Promise we had a great time talking with author and Pastor's wife, Becky Harling about her new book, Freedom From Performing: Grace in an Applause-Driven World. *Listen to yesterday's show, it was excellent! Yesterday's Show

 Anyway, we talked about how often fear, insecurity, pride, and the need to people-please drive our decisions and stress out our lives. When we feel the need to perform for others, we miss out on an opportunity to see God do His best work in and through us.

The other day my husband offered to refill my coffee cup. As he walked away I thought about his motivation for doing so. I know why he did it. It's because he loves me. We've been married 26 years. He wasn't trying to impress me or gain special favor with me. He already has my heart. And I have his. I wouldn't have even noticed if he didn't offer to fill my cup. He just did.

That's the kind of relationship Christ wants with us.

If you think about it, to mix fearful or prideful striving with our efforts to please God, is sort of like (or maybe a lot like) mixing grace with the law; something the Bible tells us not to do. Read this great passage from the Message paraphrase:

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20-21).

Oh, to know this Love. Because then, the Bible says, we will be filled to the fullness of God. As we meditate on the love of God, He takes our cup and fills it. To overflowing. He fills our cup so that we'll have much to give away to a world in need. And we give and serve and love because we've received this and more from Him. We're loved and we love.

Perfect love casts out fear. Knowing He is God is the remedy for striving. Stillness in His presence reminds us that we are His. Obeying and serving and giving because we already have His love brings great joy to His heart.

What's the name of that worship song: Lord, you have my heart. And I will search for Yours. Let me be a pleasing sacrifice... 

May we stop striving to rescue our identity and start responding to God because He has already established it. Yes, Lord.

~Have a great week!