36 posts categorized "Divine Insights"

April 07, 2010

He is With You...

Heleadsmepic  

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. For the months of March AND April I will give away away a gift card and a couple of copies of my new book, "Growing Grateful Kids" so leave a post, share an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a fun treat this month!

A Quick Note:

I am thrilled to announce the release of my next book: Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places." Let me tell you, I am excited about the message in this book. If you have children at home (or grandchildren you want to influence spiritually), order a copy today. I do believe this book will equip you to parent from a spiritual perspective (but it's loaded with lots of practical application). You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll be inspired and encouraged (that was my goal, anyway). :) 

Now, on to my topic...

A couple of weeks ago I was really battling a chest cold and trying to press through my back to back engagements lined up this spring. My body felt like it had been through the ringer. I had a little TMJ flare up (actually, a BIG flare up), a little vertigo, and to top it off, a nice, obnoxious cough. I was wiped out. 

With my spicy hug around my neck, my cup of chai warming my hands, and my head resting back on the couch, I shared an update with one of my mentors over the phone. In response, she made a simple observation but her words brought back a vivid memory from my childhood. 

I shared my memory with her: When I was about three years old, my brother and I were playing hide and seek with our other siblings. He was about four and a half at the time. We decided to hide inside a small but heavy cedar chest. Something happened and we were suddenly locked inside and stuck there for a long time. I guess my dad used some kind of crow bar to break us out of there; when he found us, we were red cheeked and listless.

Just recalling the story caused the muscles in my jaw to seize up and my chest to tighten up. My mentor suggested we pray through the memory of this experience and ask God to show me where He was during that time. Long story short, as I prayed and tried to imagine my brother and I in that cedar chest, I saw myself spooned up close to him, holding on, feeling terrified and out of breath. Just as quickly the Lord showed me a picture of Him spooning up behind us both and blowing His breath into our faces so we could breathe. 

Now that may sound a little out-of-the-box to some of you, but that beautiful picture filled me with God's peace replaced the anxiety and fear that were so strongly attached to that memory. 

This past weekend I talked to my brother about our childhood experience. Oddly enough, we've never talked about this particular memory. I barely got out the words when he finished my sentence. 

I said, "Do you remember that time we were stuck..." and he chimed in, "in the cedar chest? Yes. I remember it perfectly. I think about it all of the time." 

"What happened?" I asked. I was amazed at what he said:

Grandma was babysitting us. We were playing hide and seek. You and I decided to hide in the cedar chest. Before we pulled the top down on us, I stuck a ruler in between the top and the chest so we could see through the slit. Somehow you and I bumped the ruler and it slipped out. We were stuck inside. Grandma never checked on us. Mom and dad came home and asked where we were. They looked all over upstairs before they figured out we were inside the chest. Dad broke it open with a crow bar. We were in there for about an hour. We were listless when they got us out.

How is it possible that we survived for an hour? Or that we didn't sustain any brain damage? 

I hesitated to share this story in such a public forum but I really think there is something for all of us here. And this is the point I am making today: God is always with us. He is intimately engaged with us on this journey. Nothing can separate us from His love. Terrible things are going to happen sometimes. The enemy gets his shots in there every once in a while. But God is always with us. He'll go to the deepest pit or the smallest cedar chest to save us, sustain us, and take care of us. The enemy cannot take us out until God is ready to take us home.

No one can snatch us out of His hand!

It's easy to question God when we experience traumatic events. But instead of getting offended with God and assigning a wrong motive to Him (which consequently blinds us from seeing any of His goodness), may we humbly and trustingly ask, "Jesus, where were you in all of this? I know You are good. I know You are near. Show me where You were. Show me how You intervened in this painful experience. Heal my memory. Remove the lies I've believed and replace them with the truth. I know that You are good and I will trust You with all of my tomorrows. Amen."

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39). 

March 31, 2010

Safe in His Presence...

Lake Vermilion  

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. For the months of March AND April I will give away away a gift card and a couple of copies of my new book, "Growing Grateful Kids" so leave a post, share an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a fun treat this month!

A Quick Note:

I am thrilled to announce the release of my next book: Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places." Let me tell you, I am excited about the message in this book. If you have children at home (or grandchildren you want to influence spiritually), order a copy today. I do believe this book will equip you to parent from a spiritual perspective (but it's loaded with lots of practical application). You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll be inspired and encouraged (that was my goal, anyway). :) 

Now, on to my topic...

If you've heard me speak before, you've no doubt heard me joke about what it's like being married to a giant. Okay, I know he's not that huge, but his 6'3" frame looms large over my 5' 2" frame. I'm as big as his leg. We laugh a lot about it now but when we first got married we had a lot of adjusting to do. When Kevin moved to put his arm around me, he'd often accidentally clock me in the face with his elbow. Instantly my nose turned red and my eyes filled with pools of water. Awkward moment = one, Romantic interlude = zero.

Here is another scenario that happened a number of times: I'd be in bed with a nice cup of tea and a good book. My husband would sweetly and innocently pull back the covers. Well, uh, sweetly and innocently to him that is. To me, he'd create a minor earthquake by whipping the sheets back with such force that my cup of tea would go flying in one direction and my book, the other. With that sweet deer-in-the-headlights look he'd simply say, "Oops. Sorry." 

My husband buys things in proportion to his size. He drives a big truck, loves his big lawn mower and owns a sizable snow blower. He uses a mixing bowl for cereal and he takes up most of the space on our bed. But let me say this, in all of the ways that matter to me, my husband is a gentle, strong, and protective giant of a man. He is gentle with my fears and lovingly protects my hopes and dreams. He is kind and loving and true.

He simply moves in proportion to his size. 

One day I pondered the whole concept of moving in proportion to your size - in light of our majestic God. He is unfathomably mighty and immeasurably powerful. There is no match to His greatness. He moves and the earth shakes. Read how the earth responds to His power: 

Fire goes before Him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax in the presence of the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth the heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory (Psalm 97: 3-6). 

Sheer power goes before Him and surrounds Him on every side. With that in mind, isn't it amazing that we can even get near the Living God? If we get too close to the sun, we will burn up. However, we can draw very near to the Creator of the sun without being consumed by this formidable power!

Because of Christ's finished work on the Cross, we can do more than simply draw near, we can come boldly into the Lord's presence, and, be assured of His glad welcome! We can enjoy an intimate, engaged, and loving dialogue with the Creator of Heaven and earth. 

Why are we allowed such an incredible privilege? Because of Jesus Christ's finished work on the Cross!

Read this verse (it overwhelmed me this week):

But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord's great love - WE-ARE-NOT-CONSUMED - His compassions they never fail; His mercies are new every morning; and His faithfulness is great (Lamentation 3:21-22).

We are safe in God's presence because of His incredible love for us. We can wrap ourselves up in His love because He has boundless compassion for our weakness and our humanity. We can live with NO condemnation because His mercies are fresh and new every single morning. We are free.

As you ponder the days leading up to Easter, fully embrace the idea that your hopes and your dreams are safe with God. Your mistakes and missteps don't shake Him in the least. He's already made provision for your weaknesses. Just draw near and cherish the idea that you can draw near.

Have a blessed and beautiful Easter celebration. 

Until next week~

March 10, 2010

When God Moves...

Vermilionfalls  

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. In the month of March I will give away a gift card and a couple of copies of my new book, "Growing Grateful Kids."  So share a story or an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and friend (or maybe you'll win a copy of my new book)!

A Quick Note:

I am thrilled to announce the release of my next book: Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places." Let me tell you, I am excited about the message in this book. If you have children at home (or grandchildren you want to influence spiritually), order a copy today. I do believe this book will equip you to parent from a spiritual perspective (but it's loaded with lots of practical application). You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll be inspired and encouraged (that was my goal, anyway). :) 

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 stiffen up, get 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

December 02, 2009

A Greater Love...

GayHeadCliffs  

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

NEW RELEASE!!!

I am very excited to announce the release of my newest book, "Embracing Your Freedom: A Personal Experience in God's Heart for Justice." 

Bless my socks off and pick up a copy today! I believe the message of this book is an important word for women in our day. Follow the Amazon link below to get a look at my book. Please post a review if you've had the chance to read 'Embracing Your Freedom' (thank you so much!):

Embracing Your Freedom on Amazon...

Last month, in light of the Thanksgiving holiday, we explored some uncommon aspects of giving thanks. This month, in light of our Savior's birth, we'll spend the next few weeks exploring different ideas around giving and receiving 'gifts.' 

Now on to my topic...

Can you think of a time recently when you didn't get your way? Maybe somebody promised you something and then they forgot about it. Or maybe you had every right to think a certain someone would come through for you only to be left high and dry. How did you respond to such a disappointment?

Recently I spent some time reflecting on the following passage:

"Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever" (1 John 2:15-17 NLT). 

I like this version because it describes how the world offers 'only a craving' but not the answer for our souls, not the real and lasting satisfaction for which we were designed.

Read this excerpt from my, "Believer's Bible Commentary":

When a banks is breaking, smart people do not deposit in it. When the foundation is tottering, intelligent builders do not proceed. Concentrating on this world is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. So wise people do not live for a world that is passing away. But he who does the will of God abides forever." (p. 2314).

Just how does a 'love for the world' manifest in us? Well, in many ways, but here's one: Our want for credit and glory and recognition! Even when we are overlooked and have a seemingly legitimate reason to gripe - we must know that it is in those places where we have the opportunity to please God most. Can we serve and give just for Him and Him alone? Do we always have to receive our 'fair pay' and proper credit?

When an insatiable craving for recognition rises up within us, and we grab for ourselves something God would have eventually given us, the love of God through us, diminishes in those competitive moments. During those times when we love and crave what the world loves and craves, God's love ceases to operate within us. But when we humble ourselves, and trust God's timing and goodness, when we die to our imagined rights that we might live for Christ, the power of the Kingdom is released in those hidden and obscure places. 

Consider Joseph in the Old Testament. He was falsely accused, horrifically betrayed, and then overlooked in prison after being used of God to help others. What was his response? In all things, Joseph humbly honored God, knowing that God would establish him in due time.

Will we be faithful in such a test? Faithful with the opportunity to love when an offense would be easier? Will we refuse to pick up a stone, and pick up our cross instead? 

We die daily that we might grow deeper. 

May we love and live and serve and give for an audience of One. He will establish and bless us in due time.

John 15:13 ~ Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

God bless you this week!
Until next week~


September 09, 2009

The Mountain of God...

Mountain of the Lord

Greetings, 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 gift card to someone who posts on my blog. This month's card comes from Starbucks, so share a story or an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend! 

Before I get into my topic, I have a quick question for you. As most of you know, I've been doing this weekly blog for some time now. Recently I've been advised that I should blog more often. What do you think? Would you rather see a shorter devotional thought or insight a few times a week, or keep things the way they are? I really want to hear from you!

Okay, now on to my topic...

Do you have a few weeds in your yard? Aren't the little ones easy to ignore sometimes? Even if we keep a close watch on our lawn, those nasty buggers pop up and diminish the overall health of the lawn. Our hearts are the same way. Unless we keep short accounts with sin and we regularly bring ourselves before the Lord in humility and repentance, weeds WILL spring up in our lives. 

As we go through life, it's easy to develop a bit of an attitude towards this person, or a judgment about that situation, or an un-forgiving heart towards someone who has hurt you. These feelings come in different shapes and sizes and some are easy to ignore. But the enemy watches us, studies us, even. And he knows how to leverage our sins and weaknesses against us. 

The Bible says that the pure in heart see God. Embracing a pure heart before the Lord is our immunity against the attacks and schemes of the devil. We must take seriously our call to regularly pray, "Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts, and point out ANYTHING in me that offends You! (Psalm 139). 

And when God answers that prayer, may we humbly bow, repent, and respond to His voice. 

Have you ever tried to gently tell someone how they hurt you only to have them fall into a heap and become a victim of the confrontation? And instead of responding to you in maturity, you have to pick them up off the floor because they can't handle confrontation?

Or, have you tried to address someone who hurt you only to have them stiffen up, tell you that you shouldn't feel that way, and then walk away as if your feelings don't matter? 

Obviously, neither of those responses are healthy or mature. But don't we do the same thing to God sometimes? If He tells us what we don't want to hear, we stiffen up and get busy doing something else. Or if He points out our missteps and holds us accountable, we may fall into a heap of condemnation and completely miss His point. I know I've done that a time or two. :)

What's the healthy response?

Let's read from Hebrews 12:4-6

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

In other words, don't shrug off His discipline like it doesn't matter, but don't despair because of it either. Humbly bow before Him in repentance, and than rise up to meet Him because He loves you. Be teachable. Refuse a hard heart. Reject condemnation. Embrace His love.

What's the payoff? 

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (v.11).

A harvest of righteousness and peace await us on the other side of God's dealings with us!

Read all of Hebrews 12 today if you get the chance. It's a powerful chapter. The call is to throw off every useless weight AND the sin that so easily entangles us and to run the race marked out before us. The call is to embrace the Lord's discipline as He brings it, because He disciplines those He loves, and He is training us to reign. And finally, this chapter reminds us of who it is we're speaking to, living before, and approaching when we come to Him:

You have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,  to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,  to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire" (v. 22-29).

Our God is a consuming fire. May we live with Eternity in mind. 

Sorry this is such a long post but I believe this is a word for many of us today.

Have a great week~


August 05, 2009

Hidden in Christ...

Housethroughtherocks

Greetings, 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. Leave an insight or share a story, bless lots of people and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and friend. And now it's time to announce the winner for the month of July.

And the winner is...Cherie Wilson! Congratulations! (Please email me at: info@susielarson.com and give me your mailing address. You must claim your prize before I announce next month's winner. Blessings!)

Now on to my topic...

At the outset, first let me say that the following post is for the earnest follower of Christ who is not currently living with hidden, willful sin, or embracing an attitude contrary to God's call for us as Believers. As you know, grace isn't a license to sin but rather a net to catch us when we fall. If you walk closely with God and take seriously His refining work in your life (but you're sometimes aware of how far you have to go...), this post is for you...

Last week I posted about what it means to be ONE with Christ. When the enemy tries to single us out, we must stay in rank. When he comes against one of us, he comes against the armies of the living God! He means to pick us off one by one but he won't get away with it unless we step out from the fold, wander it alone, or allow him to make us self-aware.

This week I want to explore what it means to be hidden in Christ. I hear from quite a number of you and I know this for myself as well, it's easy to hang on to past mistakes or to get under condemnation about our yet-to-be-redeemed areas. We are works in progress and yet, God loves us perfectly every step of the way. 

In the meantime, we're going to bump up against people who don't think we're the greatest thing since sliced cheese. They may not like us for the very reason we dislike ourselves at times. Yes, we are not the people we used to be - we grow more like Christ every day - but what about those things in us that still bear the resemblance of a selfish human with feet of clay?

Jesus told His disciples not to worry if someone rejects them, because it means they are rejecting Him. I don't have any problem if someone rejects me or rolls their eyes at me because I have a deep abiding relationship with God. As if I would walk away from a Love that never fails so that a mere human would have a more favorable opinion of me.

But what I have struggled with in the past is the idea that people may still reject me on the basis of ME. Again, not that rejection is the worst thing in the world (although it's not fun), but the thought that my carnal nature would turn someone away, seems quite depressing and tempts me to come under a certain measure of self-condemnation. But as we know, there's no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 

Galatians 2:20 states something VERY important: I've been crucified with Christ and it's no longer I who lives but CHRIST WHO LIVES IN ME, and the life I now live in the flesh, I LIVE BY FAITH in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me. 

Read a couple more important verses:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

For you died and your life is NOW HIDDEN with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

When we say YES to Christ, we become benefactors of all that He is and all that He did to defeat sin and death. He makes us privy to the inner workings of the Kingdom (the Bible says He confides in those who fear Him), He gives us access to His presences and assigns angels to our protection.  When we are in Christ, we are NEW all the way through! And we are surrounded by the armies of the Living God. It's like going from being a civilian to an enlisted soldier - only on a far grander scale. 

Jesus doesn't divide who we are into little sections and only defend the areas of our lives that have been 'perfected' in Him. We are whole and complete in Him right now! We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. So, when people reject, dismiss, or even bump up against the stuff in us that still needs to be refined, He is still our Defender. And if those people are careless with their words, cruel in their judgements, or simply carnal in their response, God will deal with them. We can rest secure in the promise of God's protection, defense, and love. We can be a peace with the pace of His redeeming work in our lives.

Does that mean we don't have to look at the yuck in our lives? Of course we do! But when we walk closely with the Lord, He corrects us within the embrace of His love. He leads us with grace. He refines us with gentleness and patience. And as we block out all the other voices and listen only to Him, we'll not only get where we're going, we'll be more like HIM when we get there. 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. We are never out of His care or His reach. And He is our great Defender. Thank you, Lord.

Have a great week!

PS ~ If you haven't signed up for my FREE quarterly E-zine, you may want to! A number of my author friends donate some free books, I write a devotional and offer some great book recommendations; I share a few great quotes, ministry updates, and a prayer to send you on your way. Sign up by clicking the link below:


April 08, 2009

More to the Story...

Housethroughtherocks

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 the gift card is from Target. So leave a post, share a story or insight, bless lots of people, and maybe you'll win a few bucks to treat yourself at Target (no buying toilet bowl cleaner or anything like that. It has to be a FUN treat).

Now on to my topic...

Do you have someone in your world that has made a decision about you, has you judged, and won't let you off the hook? Or maybe you have your mind made up about a certain person because of some of the things they've done. You have them pegged in your mind and you refuse to believe anything different about them.

What's a person to do? 

Let's look at Jesus.

In the Gospel of John, chapter one, we read about when Jesus went to Galilee and called Philip to come be His disciple. Philip went off to find Nathanael and told him, "We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth!" 

Nathanael's response? 

"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" 

But Nathanael went with Philip, and as the two men approached Jesus, here's what Jesus said about Nathanael:

"Here comes an honest man. A true son of Israel."

If Jesus was petty, He could have taken an offense with Nathanael. But Jesus always looks at people redemptively. Rather than getting tripped up by our humanity, He sees the destiny written over our lives. He knows we are works in progress and uses us in profound ways though we still have such a long ways to go. 

If Jesus can extend us such grace, how is it that we can be so un-forgiving with one another?

2 Corinthians 5:16 reminds us, "So from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view." 

We have to fight sometimes to get that eternal perspective on certain people, that's our cross to bear. As Believers, we must guard our hearts and minds from forming judgmental attitudes and wrong perceptions. We may even be quite convinced that our perception is spot on, but we're wrong. 

There's always more to the story. And God always has a bigger picture.

Jesus is the One who knows things fully - and with all of our dirty information at His disposal, He still loves us. No one can gossip enough to Jesus to make Him change His mind about us! And we aren't afforded the luxury of holding on to past offenses because we think someone owes us. And we are nobody when it comes to judging others. In the whole scheme of things, our judgments hold no weight with God. In fact, it's just the opposite. He distances Himself from the proud, but draws near, and gives grace to the humble. 

When we judge others, we come to a conclusion about them. The very word conclusion is synonymous with: finish, close, and verdict. This is important: There's nothing redemptive about a wrong or limiting conclusion. We do great damage when we assume a conclusion when God is still busy, active, and changing lives every minute of every day.

Jesus is still working in and through all of us! He knows what it's like to be on the receiving end of wrong assessments and judgments. Even today many think He's nothing more than a figment of our imagination. Even so, He is God and He's coming back in all of His glory!

When Jesus died on the Cross, many thought the enemy had won. But there was more to the story.

When we judge others based on what we think we know, we are sinning, and Jesus knows there's more to the story.

When others judge us, we can hide in the shadow of His wing. We can embrace the refining work of the Lord in that safe and precious place. And we can trust Him - the One who has all of the information - to defend us. 

If someone has a snapshot of you when...and they've come to a conclusion about you based on a chapter of your life, refuse to let it weigh you down. They are accountable to God! Rise up and say, "The Lord isn't finished with me yet! He renews! He restores! And I am a work in progress. I'm not who I was. I'm not what I do. I am someone He enjoys!"

Be joyful in the fact that God knows you fully and loves you deeply.

Humbly embrace your own call to love others in the very same, deep and wonderful way.

Lord, forgive me for the countless times I've summed up others because of how they've affected me. Forgive me for forming judgements with only partial information. Forgive me for not pushing past my human tendency to judge when Your spirit inside me calls me to love and to intercede, and to forgive. I want to be a clean vessel used for Your holy work. I want to live with a pure heart that I might see You in every person I meet, because, in one way or another, they were made in the image of God. Make me more like You, Lord. Amen.

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Have a blessed Easter and wrap your arms around the power of the risen Lord!

PS ~ If you haven't signed up for my quarterly E-zine yet, you might want to. I'm doing a great book giveaway again. I write some devotional insights, great book recommendations, great quotes, and a prayer to send you on your way. The next issue releases on April 15th; here's the link:



April 01, 2009

High Places For You and Me...

Capitol

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 giveaway a $10.00 gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So leave a post, share an insight or story, bless lots of people, and who knows, maybe you'll win a treat for you and a friend.

This month's gift card is from Starbucks and it's time to announce the winner for March. Drum roll please...Cathy Messecar! Congratulations! Here's the catch: you have to email me to claim your prize (I'm so sorry, I don't have time to track you down!). Email me at: info@susielarson.com and leave me your address. Thank you, Cathy for your wonderful insights.

Now on to today's topic...

During my prayer time this morning, I meditated on this wonderful passage:

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to walk on high places. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me YOUR shield of victory. YOUR right hand sustains me. YOU stoop down to make me great. YOU broaden the path beneath my feet so that my ankles do not turn (Psalm 18: 33-36).

God has high places for you and me. We're going to look at three of those high places:

  • The High Place of Humility 
  • The High Place of Influence 
  • The High Place of Your Heart's Desire 

Just yesterday my husband and I returned from Washington D.C. where we had the privilege of attending the Global Prayer Gathering for the International Justice Mission. My friend Sara once said, "Everyone should experience these two things in their lifetime: Disney World and the Global Prayer Gathering."

It's been years since I visited Disney World and I honestly don't remember much, but I heartily agree that everyone should experience IJM's Global Prayer Gathering! Referring to the Psalm 18 passage above, God used the GPG to lead us to the high places, to train our hands for intercessory battle, to assure us that He is on our side, and that we can thus count on HIS shield of victory and HIS hand to sustain us. Everyone felt the power and strength in numbers and yet such a personal sense of responsibility for the poor, the oppressed, the widow, the orphan, the slave and the human trafficking victim. 

Somehow the folks at IJM managed to make a gathering of nine hundred people feel like an intimate, personal, and profoundly important time.  

Once the GPG ended, a few of us stayed on and went to Capitol Hill to lobby for a bill designated to the rescue of children from human trafficking and slavery. Walking the halls of power was a surreal experience. Advocating for the voiceless was humbling beyond measure. Asking the government to pay attention to this issue reminded me that we all have God-given spheres of influence that seem out of our reach. 

So, just what are those high places God has for us? Here are a few:

The High Place of Humility...

The high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, the Holy One, says this: "I live in that high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts (Isaiah 57:15 NLT).

The Lord distances Himself from the proud, but draws near and gives grace to the humble. As we walk closely with Him, we're repeatedly reminded of our need for Him. We get too big for our britches when we go too long without regarding the greatness of our God. When we forget how big He is, we forget how small we are. We're never more powerful for the Kingdom than when we're painfully aware of our desperate moment-by-moment need for the Lord. He considers our humble heart and high and privileged place to reside. Imagine.

The High Place of Influence...

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to walk on high places. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me YOUR shield of victory. YOUR right hand sustains me. YOU stoop down to make me great. YOU broaden the path beneath my feet so that my ankles do not turn (Psalm 18: 33-36).

Here's that passage again. When we dare to take God at His Word, He takes us to high places - places we're not qualified to be, but as far as He is concerned, we're equipped for. He wills that we have influence but not for ego's sake (absolutely not!). He gives us influence that we might help others. We're made strong to strengthen the weak. We're comforted that we might be comforters. We're set free that we might help the captive. He puts gifts in us, and then makes a way for us. His gifts bring us before Kings and people of even greater influence. What a mighty God we serve!

The High Place of Your Heart's Desire...

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires (Psalm 37:4). 

I once did a word study on this passage and what I found amazed me. While I don't have time to delve into it today, I will say that the essence of this verse is beautiful. The word 'delight' means to be in deep relationship with - to remember and dream together - to enjoy life together - to pamper yourselves together. Sort of reminds me of a healthy, thriving marriage. All too often we come to God and list our needs. But to pamper ourselves in the Lord is to say, "I just want to be with You because You're You. I love who You are." When we dream with God, and recall the ways He's come through for us; when we enjoy sunny days with Him in mind; and when we make the time for restful, intimate moments, we are truly delighting in God. And when we delight in God, He uses all kinds of creative methods to get His gifts to us. He knows where we live. He knows what we love. And He loves giving good gifts to His children.

It's a pleasure and and an honor to walk the high places with God. To which high place is He calling you right now? 

I'd love to hear from you!

Have a blessed week.

PS ~ If you haven't signed up for my quarterly E-zine, you might want to! Each quarter I do a great book giveaway, offer some devotional insights, great book recommendations, and a few other things. Here's the link in case you're interested:

March 18, 2009

How Jesus Sees Us...

Cottageinthewoods

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. So stop by, leave a comment, bless lots of people, and maybe you'll win a gift card to Starbucks!

Also, just for fun, I'm going to do a little giveaway this week. If you've read one of my books and haven't posted a review on Amazon yet, would you do me a favor and post a review? Then email me letting me know you're review is posted and I'll send you a free copy of one of my books (you choose). If I get an onslaught of takers, I'll have to limit it to about five, but let's see what happens. My publisher loves to see new reviews pop up every once in a while. Here's my email address: info@susielarson.com

Now on to my topic...

This morning during my prayer time I was absolutely struck by the way God sees us. In the Gospel of John, Jesus called Himself the Vine and and referred to us as the branches. 

Vine branches aren't strong and sturdy, they are pliable and bendable. And when they're severed from the Vine, they become brittle and, well, dead. Read this great excerpt from my "Believer's Bible Commentary":

A vine branch has one great purpose - to bear fruit. It is useless for making furniture or for building homes. It does not even make good firewood. But, it IS good for fruit-bearing as long as it abides in the Vine!" (p. 1550).

We were made to bear fruit!

Jesus also called Himself the Shepherd and us, the sheep. 

Sheep are vulnerable, defenseless creatures - and not the smartest animals on the planet. They need the Shepherd to guide them and keep them safe. Jesus said, "My sheep know Me, and they know My voice." Proverbs 9:10 tells us, "Knowing the Holy One results in understanding." The more we know Jesus, the more we understand Him. The more we understand His love, the easier it is to follow Him. 

Just as in the Vine analogy where He cares for the branch, the Shepherd lovingly cares for His sheep. Here's an excerpt from my Bible study notes:

"God's knowledge and love for His children involves personal affection, faithfulness, and constant providential care. WE are engraved on His hands. We are never out of His mind, for God's eye continually watches out for our good." (Life in the Spirit Study Bible - p. 1623).

Jesus also compared Himself to a man going on a journey, entrusting His possessions to His servants. We are those servants. We've been entrusted the priceless message of salvation, freedom, unique gifts and supernatural power to make a difference in our world, and Jesus - in no uncertain terms - makes it clear that He is after a return on His investment in us. He expects us to operate on a basis of increase, not decrease, of advance, not retreat.

So, in summary, we're branches - made for a very specific purpose. We're made to stay closely connected to Him. We're made to bear fruit. We're sheep - we're not always smart and pretty defenseless on our own. Yet, for those of us who follow Him, we're protected, provided for, and we have all of Heaven on our side! We're stewards - we are expected to give God a return on His investment in us. 

We have this priceless treasure in these earthen vessels that we might remember that all of the good things that come from us are because of the power of God within us.

We are utterly dependent on God and yet when we partner with Him, He uses us to change the world.

God sees us as fragile and yet significant beings. Though petty and distract-able at times, we are always priceless to Him. Though we are not built for some things, we are made to bear fruit - lots of it - fruit that will last long after we're gone. 

You and I - human as we can be at times - were made for great things.

Isn't that just simply amazing?

Be encouraged today to know that even on your weak and weary days, you are strong in Him. It's okay to remember your need, in fact, it's essential. You need Him. So do I. But wonder upon wonders, He has already made provision for our need!

Blessings to you this week!

PS ~ If you haven't already signed up for my quarterly E-zine, you might want to! Four times a year I email out a E-zine filled with fun book giveaways from my fellow author friends, devotional insights, great book recommendations, cool quotes, and a prayer to send you on your way. Here's the link to sign up:

March 03, 2009

A Deeper Hunger...

Beautifulvermilionsunset

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. So leave a comment, share a story, and bless lots of people!

Well, it's time to announce the winner for February. Drum roll please...

Congratulations to Kimberlee (you posted on February 26th), you won a $10.00 gift card to Starbucks!!! Here's the catch. You have to email me to claim your prize. I wish I had time to chase you down but I don't. :) Here's my email: info@susielarson.com

Now on to my topic...

Last week I posted about the importance of being purposeful in the way we walk out this faith journey. Especially in these times. Please read it if you get the chance. This week's post sort of piggy-backs on last week's post. 

Recently Deuteronomy 8 has been swirling around in my heart and mind. Let's read a passage from that chapter: 

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 

Many people are going through a testing time right now. In different ways, many of us are 'going without' things we are used to having or things we have taken for granted. For me, it's food. I'm very limited with the kinds of food I'm able to digest. So, 'manna' for me is God's grace to eat the same few foods day in and day out.

Maybe you're used to having more money than you do now; or maybe you're used to having more time; less stress; better health; stronger relationships; a greater level of respectability; a title; a strong sense that people understand you; a job; a marriage; a best friend; a church; a strong sense of God's direction. The list is endless. 

We are in a testing time as a nation. And Believers are definitely feeling the sifting in their souls. 

What does this have to do with the passage in Deuteronomy 8? Here's the parallel: Right now (much like the Israelites), I believe the Lord is allowing His people to go without certain things to test what is in our hearts. If we're honest, we will admit that certain things surface in us when we don't get our way. 

God knows what's in our hearts. He's showing us what's in our hearts. Our maturity is revealed when we lose things we are used to having. Will we still obey the Lord? Will we continue to humble ourselves before Him? Our hearts are tested in this process, revealing what's inside of us. It's a humbling process but God's grace is sufficient for us.

He wants His people to stand strong during these turbulent times. And if our security is a false one, we will stumble and fall. Now is not the time to be grabbing for quick fixes to fill in the gaps of what's missing in our lives. Now is the time to shift every hope onto the Rock of our Salvation. 

What's the manna for you and me? It's the daily mercy and grace God offers us. Whatever we we are missing in our lives right now, God's grace is more than enough to see us through. In fact, His grace is better for us than getting our way. His presence surpasses the surface satisfaction we enjoy when we get what we want; His Word actually delivers us from our earthbound tendencies and transforms us into people who are free and not bound by the things of this world.

And why is this important? Because we must learn in the core of our beings, that we don't 'get life' from getting our way or from having what we want. We as Believers live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. 

We 'go without' so that we may learn to hunger more for Him. 

In whatever area we are going without - there's a promise available to us.

The Deuteronomy passage tells us that we live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. When our attitude flares or anxiety ruffles us, there's a WORD within God's 'every Word' that's specific to our situation. 

The solution then, is not to get our way, but to trust in the ll knowing ways of the Lord and to mine the Scriptures that we might find the inheritance verse that speaks to our situation. He tests us and refines us that we might, more and more, find our deepest needs met in the object of our deepest desire. Jesus Himself. 

He won't let us go. He's just teaching us to rely more on Him and less on the things of this world. He loves us so very much. 

Until next week.

PS ~ If you haven't signed up for my quarterly E-zine, you might want to. Four times a year I email out a wonderful E-zine packed with good stuff (free books, a devotional thought, great quotes, great book recommendations, etc.). Sign up today: