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5 posts from November 2011

November 30, 2011

Live With Expectancy!

Close up Christmas pic

Greetings, 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 giftcard to someone who posts on my blog. So share an insight, bless lots of folks, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend. 

I had a powerful conversation with author/speaker Mike Guzzardo last week. We talked about what it means to live 'All In' for Jesus. If you need a spiritual shot in the arm, be sure to catch the podcast from last week's show. I'm pretty sure you'll love that interview!

Now on to my topic...

I've been thinking a lot lately about the end times and about Jesus' return. No matter where you stand on end times theology (pre-trib, mid-trib, or post trib), most agree, Jesus is coming soon! 

Scripture says that just as in the days of Noah, people in the latter days will be caught up in daily life, eating, drinking, and partying - with no thought of the coming flood - and that is how it will be when the Son of Man returns (See Matthew 24:37-39). 

First Peter, verses thirteen and fourteen say this: So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.

Think clearly: Remember what's important. Consider that if you are in Christ, you are not your own; you've been bought with a price. You have a divine call on your life! Refuse to get caught up in petty insecurities and shallow self-awareness. You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! You possess all in Him. You lack no good thing. Walk in a manner worthy of your calling. Live up to your high privilege in Christ Jesus. Put your hand only to the things He calls you to. May you understand the times and know what to do.

Exercise self control: Don't throw your time away like it doesn't matter because all of your life matters! Don't give in to the indulgences common to man; practice restraint and moderation so you can be clear thinking, alert, and ready for action. Enjoy an occasaional treat here and there, but don't let over indulgence mark your life. Consider this not as a legalistic order but a challenge to be well trained and alert!

Look forward: For the Christ-follower, this life on earth is as bad as it gets! We have everything to look forward to. For the one who rejects Christ, this life is as good as it gets. Live with expectancy! Trust that God's promises are true. Expect Him to come through for you and to keep His word. In the coming days, look for answers to your persistent prayers. Scripture says that hope does not disappoint. As Mike Guzzardo said (in the interview I referred to above), "It's literally impossible for Christ to fail me." Live with the expectancy that God is actively involved in your life. He loves you, He is for you, and He is with you. 

Even amidst the hustle-bustle of this holiday season, live as one who is spoken for. We celebrate Jesus, the long-expected Savior. He came as a humble babe in the manger. Soon He'll return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

May we live with our eyes open, our chin lifted, and our hearts set fully on Him. When He returns, will He find faith on the earth? 

May He find faith in us.

~Until next week.

November 22, 2011

Pausing to Thank Him...

Flame

Happy Wednesday, Friends! Susie Larson here...

And to those visiting, 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 insights, bless lots of folks, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend.

Now on to my topic...

The holidays are before us. And it's about this time every year that our motors run on overdrive. We keep that pedal to the metal until the morning of January 1st. We wake up with an empty tank, iron eyelids, and heavy feet, and we wonder how the last month and a half sped by us in such a blur.

Well, not this year! 

Let's decide together to pull over to the side of the road on occasion and enjoy a sunset or watch the trees blow in the breeze. Let's take a few extra minutes to chat with a friend or enjoy a cup of coffee. Let's make it our practice (for the next couple of months especially), to pause, give thanks, and enjoy the incredible gifts that surround us.

Why? Because we can. 

Here's an excerpt from my book 'Embracing Your Freedom':

"What an exorbitant privilege to hop into the car and drive to a coffeehouse for a $4 cup of coffee. What a treasured freedom to decide whether or not to go to bed early. Taking our kids to the park, enjoying a day at the beach, devouring Christian books, praying in broad daylight, watching back-to-back movies on a cold, rainy day; all of these priceless gems make us rich indeed.

Has your holy tenacity waned a bit? Begin by thanking God for the blessings you enjoy and the land you currently possess. Walk the boundaries of your home and count every square inch a treasure. Look at the pictures on your wall. They're yours. Trace the outline of the windows that allow you to look out where the birds sing and the sun shines. If you have children, place your hand on their heads and whisper a prayer of thanks. Next time you go to church, look around. Be amazed that you are free to come and go as you please. Notice your portion of land; be thankful for it. Simply by expressing your gratitude to God out loud, you'll bring courage to your heart and strength to your soul. When you start counting your blessings, you'll feel the wind in your sails once again." (pp. 25, 31). 

This week, make it your practice to notice all of the freedoms you enjoy. You can go to Bible study, or to the health club, or to the coffee shop, or even to church, without fear for your life. You are not bound in chains or owned by a vicious slave driver who pushes you relentlessly day in and day out. You have a life. A beautiful, free life. Yes, there are flaws in the fabric, sure there are trials to overcome, but step back - as often as you think of it this week - and marvel at your freedom. Give thanks to God. He's so very good.

And as you do it, you'll say, "Give thanks to God. Call out his name. Ask him anything! Shout to the nations, tell them what he's done, spread the news of his great reputation! (Isaiah 12:4 MSG).

~Until next week...

 

November 17, 2011

Silence Your Unbelief!

Brisk MorningGreetings, Dear Friends!

Susie Larson here...

And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday (I'm a day late this week), 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 a story or insight, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend! 

Now on to my topic...

In the book of Numbers we read the about how Moses sent out spies to scope out the land to see if it was time to take their next place of promise. Interestingly enough, Moses received two different reports from his men.

The first report went as follows (my paraphrase here): "Yes, the land looks abundantly wonderful, HOWEVER, there are obstacles to overcome; the people are strong and the walls are stronger. There is no way we'll ever be able to possess that land!"

The second report came from Joshua and Caleb (my paraphrase again): "Let's go at once and take this land! For we are well able to overcome and possess that which God has promised us! The land is great and our God is greater still!" 

The first group of spies rebutted these mighty faith-filled words with their doomed perspective of failure. This bad report was enough to initiate a spirit of unbelief amongst the troops. So much so, that the Israelites fell into murmuring, complaining, and even insubordination. The power of the spoken word is mind-boggling, no?

And what was the consequence of treasuring their fears more than the promises of the Living God? They were denied access to the Promised Land. Every one of them, save Joshua and Caleb, died in the wilderness. Unbelief robs us of our destiny in Christ. 

Jump ahead forty years. Joshua is an older, seasoned, and even braver warrior. He is leading the next generation of Israelites and preparing them to take the land their parents had forfeited by their own unbelief. It's interesting that this time God commanded the Israelites to march around the city of Jericho once a day, for six days - saying nothing. They were NOT to open their mouths! 

My study notes in my Bible have this to say about that precursor to victory: 

"The memory that Israel's 40-year punishment in the wilderness was a result of people's murmuring in unbelief was doubtless in Joshua's mind. At that time, the spies had returned with a report motivated by what man sees without Holy Spirit-given vision. Their unbelief...had sealed their fate in the wilderness." (NKJV - Spirit Filled Life Bible). But not this time!

Could it be that God called the next generation of Israelites to go forward without speech because of their parents' sin of constant and continuous grumbling? Fortunately, this story ends with a victorious shout! On the seventh day the Israelites marched around Jericho seven times and gave a mighty shout. And the walls came tumbling down!

Are you marching into new territory? Are you glaring at your obstacles and recounting the harshness of your steps daily? It's time to silence your unbelief! Time to quit complaining! 

Let your gaze be fixed on Christ! Let your focus be zeroed in on the land God has promised you, not on the giants in the land. When you are in step with the Living Lord, anything is possible. The Israelites didn't even have to lift a sword to take down a massive fortification. And we serve the same God today.

Walk forward unafraid. In fact, walk forward with humble yet bold courage. Silence your unbelief and give words to your faith in Almighty God, who daily establishes His purposes for you!

~Until next week. 

 

 

November 09, 2011

You Now Stand!

Darkness and Light.jpg 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 share an insight, bless lots of folks, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend.

Now on to my topic...

On Tuesday I had Tullian Tchividjian (Billy Graham's grandson) on the show. He wrote a book titled, "Jesus + Nothing = Everything." It was a great interview; you'll love what he had to say. If you're interested here's the link to the podcast: Live the Promise interview with Tullian Tchividjian

Tullian passionately shared how being on the receiving end of gossip, fault-finding, and assigned motives "broke his legs" and taught him to fully depend on the Lord. He now walks in a whole new level of freedom and power! God showed him how very much he depended on man's approval for his peace of mind. Don't we all fall easily into that trap? 

And yet, when we put our hope in anything but Christ, even the noblest of causes or the best of people, those things become idols. Our hope is in the living, loving God who promises never to leave us or forsake us. 

Colossians 1:14 explains that through Christ’s victory on the cross, God has rescued US from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of His Son in whom we find redemption and the forgiveness of sin.

Redemption = clearing, absolution, debt honored, return

God has plucked us out of the enemy stronghold and placed us into His Kingdom where we are loved, cherished, cleansed, called, cared for, protected, equipped, and armed to stand.

We now stand in the Kingdom of His marvelous light! Read this powerful verse:

However, you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people who belong to God. You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). 

Even when we encounter conflict, rejection, misunderstanding, we still remain in the Kingdom with firm footing there. Remember, we have a secure standing because of what Jesus has done, not a hit-and-miss standing because of what we do.

Even though conflict and misunderstanding is painful, we must not give it so much power that we begin to doubt our firm standing of love, acceptance, qualification, and calling in the Kingdom of God’s Son.

Too often we see ourselves as standing on a little bitty spot of conditional acceptance. And we think we lose that ground when we misstep, misspeak, or mess up. But the ground is wide beneath our feet. Because of God’s precious grace there’s room for us to fall, trip, and get it wrong on occasion.

Not that we consider grace as a license to sin. May it never be!

But may we neither live in the other extreme where conditional love leaves us feeling constantly unsettled about who we are and what we possess.

If you’ve received Christ sacrifice for your sins, then His victory is your victory! You are now a joint heir with Christ! What He possesses is yours!

Nobody can separate you from God’s love (See Romans 8:38). No misstep can yank you out of the Kingdom of God’s Son. And everything you do from this day on is intended to be in response to what He’s already done.

He loves you. He’s rescued you. He’s forgiven you. He’s cleansed you. He’s renewed you. He’s restored you. He’s equipped you. And He sends you out, already complete in Him. Live now in response to what Christ has done for you. It’s a settled deal. Isn’t that wonderful?

Don’t make an idol out of the opinions of others. Live free. Live whole. And Love well.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory (Romans 5:1-2).

~Until next week. 

 

November 02, 2011

Afraid You'll Mess Up?

Backyard FallHappy 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 share a thought or an insight, bless lots of folks, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend!

It's time to announce October's winner...Sheila! (I don't have your last name but you regularly post here). Congratulations! Just email me your mailing address and I'll get your gift card in the mail. Email me at: [email protected] - Thanks and bless you!

Now on to my topic...

Several years ago I showed up to speak at a retreat (and I can't believe I'm about to tell you this) with the wrong speaking notes. Right away I noticed decorations and brochures covered with seeds, clearly displaying a 'rooted and grounded in Christ' theme. And my heart sunk to my toes. I prepared for a deeper life, deep waters theme. How did I mess this up? 

Withtout boring you with too much detail, I had back to back retreats at the time, and my contacts for both weekends had the same first name. Somewhere along the line, my emails from the other contact ended up in the wrong event file. 

Sure I had fasted, prayed, prepared, and even had my intercessors praying for the event. So why didn't I discern that my theme didn't match their theme? 

When the leaders came into the sanctuary, I dropped to my knees and begged forgiveness. I said, "You'll never believe what I've done..." I proceeded to explain my blunder. Thankfully the leaders of this retreat feared God, loved Him so much, and trusted Him completely. They pulled me up to my feet, wrapped their arms around me, and said, "Bring the message God has given you! We want to hear it." Bless God for such wonderful women! 

We had a powerful weekend. God healed a woman's back after a long battle with back trouble. Women met God. His power moved mightily in our midst! I stood in awe of God and in the faith of these women. I delivered a 'deep water' message surrounded by seeds, trees, and plant decorations. Simply beautiful. 

The other day while reading in the Gospel of Matthew I noticed something powerful. Jesus had just faced off with the Pharisees and Sadducees (who, by the way, hated each other but came together because of their mutual disdain for the Savior). These guys demanded a sign, a miracle to prove He was God. Yet Jesus had nothing to prove to them and would do no such thing. Even so, their hard hearts stirred up Jesus' love and concern for His disciples.

Once the disciples got in the boat and pushed off shore, they realized they'd forgotten the bread. Jesus, still mulling over His conversation with the Pharisees and Sadducees cautioned the disciples to guard against the leven of the Pharisees and Saducees. 

I know myself so well. I would soooo respond the way the disciples did. Here's their basic response:

"We forgot the bread. He's talking about the bread. He's mad that we forgot the bread. How could we forget the bread?" 

Can you just picture Jesus breathing a heavy sigh, titling His head and saying, "Really? You think this is about the bread? Weren't you with Me when I multiplied the loaves and fishes and fed thousands both times? Do you really think that your little mishap will ruin our day? I've got lunch! What I'm saying is, guard your heart!"

The Pharisees were keepers of the law, the sin police. They put all of the emphasis on their ability, their capacity to be righteous. The Sadducees on the other hand, blended with the godless culture and embraced their freedom to do as they pleased and to manipulate their faith to match their lives.

Now let's apply this to us:

Jesus calls us to guard our hearts and minds - with all our hearts and minds! May we, not for a minute, think we can add to what He's already done. He saves us by His grace. Anything we do from there is in grateful response to His amazing love. We can't jump high enough, run far enough, or give enough away to add to what He's already done. And praise God, when we trip up, forget the bread, or prepare for the wrong event, His Spirit more than surpasses our need. In fact, it's in those weak places where His glory shines brightest. He expects us to mess up and He's already made provision for us.

Regarding worldly Christianity, it's everywhere. And those who blend with a godless culture because of their misunderstanding of their pricelses blood-bought 'freedom' in Christ, will not have the strength to stand in these latter days. And, like Lot of the Old Testament, they'll lose their credibility among the lost because they've lived amongst them for too long. We need to reach out for and love the lost, but too often we use that 'call' to live like them as well. God forgive us! 

Jesus says to guard against the influences of legalism and worldliness. Don't spend too much time worrying about doing it all right every minute of the day. Scripture says time and time again that it's God and His Word that work in us to make us more like Him, that we might act just like Him.

Oh, how I love Jesus. Don't you?

~Until next week.