83 posts categorized "Keeping Perspective..."

August 24, 2011

Lay Hold of Your Inheritance!

Glorious Morning 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 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...

On Monday I had Lisa Bevere on the show and we talked about her amazing book, Lioness Arising. We had a powerful time together. We talked about the call for women to wake up to their divine value and calling. Hundreds of people shared the link to this show with their friends. I'm telling you, if you missed it, listen to the podcast. You'll be inspired. Click here to listen to the podcast (share it with a friend too!).

When my sons were young, I noticed certain weaknesses in them that would deeply impact their adult years if not addressed. One particular son, though he was generous, gentle, meek, and mild, had a tendency to shrug his shoulders and take the path of least resistance in almost any situation. One day I spoke these words to him, "Honey, you know the story of how Esau, because of his immediate hunger and shortsightedness, traded his birthright for a bowl of soup? Well, in certain ways, you do the same thing every time you choose the comfortable path over the courageous one. If you're so short-sighted that you only think about comfort and self-preservation in the immediate moment, you'll miss the bigness of God's call on your life."

We all surrender a portion of  our priceless inheritance for a measly bowl of soup at different times, in various situations. 

The Bible tells us that when we are in Christ, everything He has is ours. We are now joint heirs with Christ. We are rich in every way so we can be generous on every occasion; blessed to be a blessing. And though our identity and salvation are free gifts through faith, the abundant life and treasures we're called to appropriate here on earth don't come without a fight. We have to contend with a very real enemy who seeks to steal kill and destroy everything good in our lives (see John 10:10).

It's easier to worry than it is to have faith. It's easier to detach from a friend than it is to confront her (I've learned this the hard way). It's easier to stay stuck in a life situation that you hate than it is to seek God for a fresh vision for your life. It's easier to hold a grudge than to extend a hand of grace. It's easier to watch four hours of TV than it is to pray and worship and read for two. It's easier to react to life than it is to respond to God. It's easier to spend money on ourselves than it is to give it to someone who has less than us. It's easier to complain than it is to offer praise. It's easier to notice what you lack than to dance with joy over what you possess. 

You get the point.

Every time we lift our eyes and get a glimpse of the bigger picture of who we are and what we possess by faith, God's Kingdom increases in and through us. Jesus said, "I've come that you might have life and life abundantly." But that beautiful life doesn't come without a God-breathed vision and some feisty faith. 

May the Lord Himself breathe fresh life into our faith; may He fill us up with renewed joy; may He strengthen our resolve to do the hard thing, the right thing, the thing moves His Kingdom forward in and through us. And may He bring clarity to our vision and perspective so we see ourselves for the rich ambassadors we are. We love You, Lord. Lead us onward. 

~Until Next Week 

August 10, 2011

Everyday Miracles...

Light Through the Trees Hey 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 people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend. 

Now on to my topic...

My son Jake shared an insight with a friend recently that deeply ministered to me. This friend is in a tough work situation. His boss is relentless, always looking for faults, mistakes, and foibles to highlight, and she never offers encouragement. The constant and unrelenting criticism has taken a toll on this young man. Maybe you know what it's like to be barely tolerated instead of lovingly celebrated. 

The young man said this to Jake, "I need a miracle. In fact, I need a miracle that I can't explain away. If I look back over the recent years, I can see plenty of ways God showed up and moved on my behalf. He has provided when we needed it most; He has opened doors I could not have opened myself. Yet, the truth is, I don't have to try too hard to find a logical explanation for each and every one of these instances in my life. What kind of man of faith am I? If this is a test of my faith, I'm surely failing." 

To that, Jake replied, "A friend recently challenged me to look at miracles from another angle. Take the time Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, for example. The obvious miracle is that God multiplied a lunch to feed thousands and thousands of people. However, isn't it also a miracle that so many people sat down in community and broke bread together? People who probably would not have otherwise come together, did so because they all sought Jesus. They sat down on the hillside and shared a meal. Together. When I look at you and what you're currently walking through, here's what I see: you are in an impossible situation at work, yet you come home each night and you love your wife. You ask her how her day went and you listen to her. You're in an impossible situation at work, yet you're still tender to the things of God, still care whether or not you have enough faith. I'd say those are the miracles in your life right now. Just look at your situation from a different angle, God is there and He is doing something great in you."

Wow. Jake's insight blessed me beyond words. 

Maybe this word is for you today as well. If it's been a while since you've seen God move in your midst, scoot in a little closer and look at your situation with a fresh pair of eyes. You're still in the fight. You still want more of God. You still manage to be kind and loving to others though your own heart is breaking. Those are miracles in the most beautiful sense of the word.

God is with you. He is for you. And in due time, you will see Him do something big, something grand, if you continue onward and do not give up. But for now, hold close the everyday miracles. They are every bit as significant as the water-parting, death-defying kind. 

He is with you. He has not looked away or lost your number. May you see Him in fresh new ways today.

~Until next week.

 

 

July 27, 2011

Found In Him...

Vermilion Dock Greetings, Friends! 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 $10.00 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So share an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend!

One more note: I had a great show on Tuesday with Jason Vallotton. We discussed his book, The Supernatural Power of Forgiveness. When we make the subtle shift from hoping in God as our Source to hoping in people (who make a lousy source), we give away our God-given power to live free and full lives. Even so, there is a way to navigate through the relational waters in a healthy way. We love people, we hope in God who empowers us to thrive even in a broken world. If you're interested in listening to that interview, just click here.

Now on to my topic...

Words to an old hymn have been replaying in my head lately: On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

Psalm 62:7 says this: My salvation and my honor depend on God alone. He is my mighty Rock and Refuge.

He saves us, defends us, and protects our honor. He is the Rock on which we stand and the Refuge in which we find shelter. He is everything.

Picture standing on a solid, stable and level rock. On either side of the Rock you see bubbling pits of quicksand. On your right is the quicksand of pride, on your left is the quicksand of despair. If you shift your weight onto either of these, you'll sink. Sinking sand will swallow you alive.

In Philippians chapter three, Paul expressed that compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ, everything else was rubbish. If anyone had reason for pride, Paul did. Accomplished, educated, and accredited, the man had a resume. And if anyone had reason for despair, Paul did. God chose him as an ambassador of the faith and once his eyes were opened to the superior reality of faith in Christ, he was smacked with the depths of his sin. Paul was responsible for the torture, persecution, and death of innocent Christians. Can you imagine how the enemy used his own sin against him during those sleepless nights?

That's why this statement means so much coming from Paul: 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14). 

On our own, we don't have a leg to stand on, but thanks be to God, we have a strong and stable Rock as our foundation!

Pay attention this week to those zingers that steal your joy. Almost always they'll connect to thoughts that weaken you, thoughts that spew from the quicksand, "You're such a dunce. Always saying what you shouldn't." Or, "You'll never overcome your past. You're destined to repeat it." Or, "You are really something because of what you've accomplished. You're not as good as____, but you're definitely better than___. It's okay to use your position to get what you want."

Pride and despair are bottomless pits that will suck the life right out of us.

Paul's goal was to be 'found in Christ' - always and ever drawing life from his association with the one true Vine. Paul accomplished what he did for the Kingdom because he refused to be bogged down by shame and condemnation, and he refused to be puffed up by his accomplishments. As far as he was concerned, it was all garbage compared to the moment-by-moment intimacy he enjoyed with Christ.

This is not to say that what we accomplish for Christ is rubbish; it's a true treasure to serve Him. But the minute we shift our weight off of who we are in Christ and onto what we do for Him, even our works of service become filthy rags because they cannot save us. The Bible says that even our best effort is only as significant as a dirty rag apart from Christ.

And a final word about shame and condemnation. My mentor told me recently that shame is an inward reproach.

In other words, to embrace shame is to hold ourselves in contempt. Shame is a blemish or stain that discredits us and holds us captive only by our agreement. It's time to disagree with shame and condemnation! There is NOW therefore NO condemnation for those in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:1).

Stay firmly planted on the Rock of your salvation! He saves, He delivers, He establishes, and He protects. All other ground is sinking sand...

~Until next week.

 

July 05, 2011

What Are You Afraid Of?

God on the water

Hey Friends! Happy Wednesday! 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.

It's time to announce the winner for June...Andrea Abernathy, congratulations! Please email me your mailing address and I'll get the card in the mail within the next 2 weeks. My address is: info@susielarson.com Thanks for posting and bless you! 

Now on to my topic...

A couple of years ago, while speaking at a women's retreat, I decided to try something new on the women. I told them to come to Saturday night's session titled, "The Fear of the Lord" in comfortable clothes and armed with their Bibles, notebooks, pillow, and blanket. My  plan was for them to 'camp' in the presence of the Lord. 

Using Hebrews chapter 12 along with a few other passages of Scripture, I taught for ten minutes, then I stepped away from the podium and put on about ten minutes of beautiful music and gave the women journal and prayer assignments (all the while, Power Point slides rotated different 'fear of the Lord Scripture' against an ocean background). After ten minutes of journal and prayer, I stepped up again and taught for ten minutes, followed by another ten minutes of music and reflection. We did this for a full hour. I talked about humility, teachability, the discipline of the Lord, what it means to honor Him, and Who it is we come to when we come to Him.

We spent an hour re-setting our spiritual lives; humbling ourselves; remembering again how mighty this God is that we serve. When I looked around the room, I saw a beautiful combination of reverence for the Lord and a comfort in His presence. Not casual in His presence. But comfortable with the idea of His love, His mercy, and His forgiveness. Not because we deserve it, but because He offers it. 

We need moments like this. Lots more of them. 

When we run to and fro in our busy lives, we so easily default to fears that are not ours to embrace. We fear other's opinions; the stock market; the unknown; the loyalty of friends; ourselves. 

One of my favorite verses is this one:

Do not fear ANYTHING except the Lord Almighty; for HE ALONE is the Holy One. If you fear Him, you need fear nothing else. He will keep you safe (Isaiah 8:13). 

When we say things we shouldn't say, and we fear getting caught more than we fear dishonoring our God, it's time to re-set, and remember to Whom we are ultimately accountable. 

When we give more weight to man's words than God's Word, it's time to re-set, and remember that no words can diminish us if God's Word is strong in us.

When we pay more attention to the economy than to how the Holy Spirit is moving around us, it's time to re-set and remember that we are not made for this place. We are just passing through. We serve a Living God and His economy is strong indeed. 

When we acquaint ourselves more with our circumstances than our identity in Christ, it's time to re-set and remember once again who we are, and whose we are. We are His. And everything He has is ours. We have more than enough to live abundantly today.

If we're bent on fear, may ours be a fear of the Lord. May we know in our core of our potential to squander time, embrace selfishness, and overlook the suffering. And in light of our earthbound ways, may we walk ever closer to Him and fully trust Him in these trying times. He is Lord. We are on the winning side.

Until next week (Maybe. I'll be out of pocket for most of next week but I'll do my best to post!)~

 

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 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

May 11, 2011

Embrace Your Worth!

God on the water 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.

Also, if you're a parent, you need to listen to the podcast from yesterday's show. My guest was Catherine Hickem (family therapist, counselor, parenting expert, and speaker) and we talked about 'Regret Free Parenting'. We had a GREAT conversation. Check it out if you need some encouragement and insight: Tuesday's Show

Now on to my topic...

This morning I posted these words on my Facebook page: 

Joy Stealer: Looking for man's approval when you already have God's abounding love and acceptance.

You'd think I would know by now not to allow myself any deep introspection on Mondays. Let me explain. During the fall and spring seasons I do a lot of speaking on the weekends. And really, I've learned - for the most part - not to look inward too much on Mondays. As I rule, I typically guard my thoughts, refuse to look over my shoulder, or obsess over what I could have done or said differently. And really, for the most part, that's just what I do. I look ahead. I work out. I catch up on things around the house and on my computer. And I thank God by faith for how He moved at the event. Then I go on to pray for the women I just spoke to. All of these things keep me focused forward on the things God has given me to do for that day.

But...every once in a while, someone says something that gets in or takes me by surprise, and like a little rat that wiggles its way through the smallest crack in the door, fear and self-awareness finds its way in where faith and God-awareness reigned. I hate it when that happens!

Thankfully, though, it doesn't take me as long to get myself back to the place of peace and assurance. Even so, that door should never be open. You know the door I'm talking about: the one that leads to your value and acceptance as someone who belongs to God. Yes, people will reject and betray us, but they still don't have the power to diminish or decide our value. Right?

Read this excerpt from my book, "The Uncommon Woman"

Giving people easy access to dethrone our identity and devastate us is not healthy. Deep in our souls there must be an inner chamber where only Jesus resides. It's  in that place where Jesus sits on the throne of our lives. By His very presence there, we are made, and continually made whole. He has already decided our worth, so it must never be up for grabs again. Since we belong to God, we can rule in the midst of our enemies (See Psalm 110:2). Some people are just plain mean; and others, misguided. We can be kind to these people but we don't have to let them (or their words) in. Others might be on to something when they point out our flaws, but if they possess no fear of God, we must confidently leave their presence and bring ourselves before the Lord. In that safe and holy place we confess our sin, admit our need for more of Him, and then throw ourselves on the mercy of heaven's court." (p. 111)

God knows our frame. He doesn't forget that we are human. But He loves us still. And His Son paid an exorbitant price to save us. Our worth is a settled issue.

It's just true. We all need to be reminded of this from time to time. We all have days when the cold winds blow that door open and leave us vulnerable to the lies of the enemy. But every day, may we identify ourselves with the Lord, as His very own. Every day, may we embrace His love as the defining factor of our lives. And every day, may we turn and love others in the way that He has loved us, because we can.

Until next week~

 

May 04, 2011

Offering Forgiveness & Grace to Those Who Have Hurt You...

BeautifulPath

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 and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend!

It's time to announce April's Starbucks gift card winner! Rachel Beran, congratulations! Email me at: info@susielarson.com to claim your prize. And thanks for posting on my blog!

Now on to my topic...

We had one of THE most powerful shows yesterday! My guest was Dr. David Anderson and we talked about his book, 'I For-Grace You: Doing Good to Those Who Have Hurt You.'

During the show a woman named Marti called in. She was a new listener and didn't know Christ. David so sweetly encouraged her and then as (super) natural as can be, he led her in a prayer to receive Christ. I was beside myself. You have to listen if you get the chance: Live the Promise (For-Graceness)

During the show we talked about what Christ has forgiven in us, and the implications of not forgiving others. I know how difficult it is to forgive someone hurt deeply, but you and I know that it's our only path to freedom and peace!

Read this powerful passage:

Mark 11:24-26~ Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Do you see the POWER in this verse? Prayer that changes things is linked with a heart that releases things. Oh, that we could learn the importance of running to Jesus the moment we have a spec of offense within our hearts. 

Catherine Marshall - a prolific writer and follower of Christ, practiced nightly prayers of forgiveness with her husband. Together they'd sit down and search their hearts in prayer. If they could sense even the slightest edge or attitude towards another, they would bow their heads, pray for their offender, and entrust the offense to the Lord. All the way down to being ticked about the little boy that pushed her daughter on the playground (me paraphrasing here), she bathed it in prayer. She attributed this daily practice as significant in keeping her heart and mind at peace.

Dr. David Anderson, my guest from yesterday's show, suggests that as Christ-followers, there's even a next step we can and must take whenever possible. He says it's not enough to release our offender of the debt they owe us. To follow Christ is to bless those who hurt us. And of course, that looks different in every situation, and requires divine wisdom each and every time.

Maybe the 'doing good' is simply to talk kindly to the one who hurt you when you'd rather be rude. Maybe it's earnest prayer on their behalf. Maybe it is washing their feet, or buying them groceries. Maybe you extend grace by asking them how they're doing that particular day.

Now of course, we need to keep distance from some of our offenders, but we can still pray for them. We need to keep boundaries with perpetual offenders, but we can still pray for them.

However, every once in a while, the Lord gives us an opportunity to actually and literally bless those who persecute us or hurt us in some way. That's what I'm talking about.

May the Lord Himself give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to do His will. Remember, Jesus asked the Father to forgive His executioners while they gambled for His clothes below - before they ever realized the gravity of their sin. 

We can't even comprehend the depths of forgiveness offered us by Christ because we don't really know the depths of our sin. But one day, in Heaven, we will. Oh, the depths of God's love! While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

May we likewise forgive and (whenever possible) bless those who also don't deserve it. 

March 29, 2011

Seeing Others (and yourself) Redemptively...

Flame Greetings, Dear Friends!

 Susie Larson here...

 And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way. 

Each month I give away a $10.00 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So leave a post, share an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend!

 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?

Second 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 call as Believers. As Christ followers 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; we may be partially right about what we see and still totally wrong about our conclusions. 

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).
PS ~ If you haven't signed up for my FREE 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:

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March 23, 2011

Recipe for Greatness

Lake Vermilion 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 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! 

I've had a GREAT line up on the show this week! All week long we're talking about the things that can hinder our growth in faith. Monday we talked about media, Tuesday, addictions, today we'll talk about 'religion', and tomorrow, unforgiveness. Check out podcasts of the shows - I think you'll be blessed: Live the Promise Podcasts

Now on to my topic...

While reading through the book of 2 Chronicles I found myself both intrigued and grieved by the ripple effect of a King's choice of whether or not to follow and honor God.

When a King humbled himself and trusted the Lord, God gave him victory and granted his efforts success. When a king exalted himself and trusted his own efforts and acted on his own whims, many people paid with their lives. Kingdoms fell, God's people were enslaved, and idolatry flourished.

Just today I read about how King Uzziah started out by seeking after God and God blessed him as a result. But then we read this in chapter 26:16

But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall.

Why are we so quick to idolize our own efforts?

Though a king's choices have far more reaching effects than our choices, we must embrace the fact that our choices matter, and that people are deeply affected by whether or not we honor God and live a life of greatness. 

Here are a few things I observed about greatness by reading about some of the Kings in the Bible.

Embrace Your Identity - Obey Him Fully: Do you remember the story in 1 Samuel 15 when Saul did not follow through with obeying the Lord (I just blogged about this last week)? This is what Samuel said to him, "Although you may think little of yourself, are you not leader of the tribes of Israel?" Saul had a job to do but he minimized the importance of his identity and his choices. We do the same thing.

We cower, we run, and we hide from the GREAT things God wants to do in us and through us. We justify our partial obedience and we dance around the things God has asked of us. We put off taking our next step into the unknown zone because the comfort zone feels better to us. And this is what the Lord says: You may have forgotten how important you are to Me, but remember today! You may not understand your important place in history, but embrace it today! Are you not My beloved? Have I not promised to take you to high places? Do you not have access to all of the riches of Heaven? Remember who you are today. Obey me fully. No more hiding.

Humble Yourself - Trust His Timing: Do you remember the story of when David was in the cave with (a raging, jealous) Saul (see 1 Samuel 24)? Clearly the Lord had delivered Saul into his hands, right? David was a God-fearing man and even though deliverance seemed to be at his fingertips, he would not take it until the Lord gave it.

I can think of a number of times when my 'dream' was at my fingertips, there for the taking. But I knew deep inside it wasn't my time yet. I would have had to drop the ball on something else to grab hold of what I believed God had promised me. It was so close, but not close enough to be mine yet. But when my time finally came, it was like plucking a ripe piece of fruit from a tree. 

Are you there? This is what the Lord would say to you: My beloved one, I have you! That dream in your heart? I put it there! Trust me in this, and see if I won't establish you beyond your wildest dreams. I love to work mightily through my people, but first I must do a mighty work in them. Humble yourself before me; refuse jealousy or a competitive spirit; embrace Me, embrace My timing, and I will establish you. I promise.

Tune Out the Enemy - Face Down Your Fears: Remember when a young David faced down Goliath? By all appearances, David had no physical chance of winning a fight against this beast of a man. And Goliath knew it. He spewed all kinds of insults David's way. But David didn't acknowledge Goliath's taunts. He refused to allow himself to be singled out. instead he spewed back, "Who is this Philistine that dares to defy the army of the Living God?" If David would have spoken to Goliath, he would have said something like this: 'When you come against me, you come against the host of heaven, so don't try to bully me with your insults. I am not alone in this battle and you are going down!" (okay, my paraphrase). :)

If the enemy's voice rings loud in your ear, tune him out, and listen to what the Lord has to say to you: My brave and precious one, you are not alone! Not by a long shot! Even if what the enemy says feels true to you, remember that I AM TRUE and I will establish you! This is not about your ability, it is about Mine. You have a choice of whether to be brave or to cower in fear. Be strong and courageous! I am with you! I will not forsake you! And you cannot please me without faith! Put those fears under your feet and follow Me to the high places I have for you! We have a great adventure ahead. Remember, never allow yourself to be singled out. As My child, you are a part of something greater than you can imagine; and far greater are those who are for you than those who stand against you! Listen to My voice alone!"

Dear Friend,

Though it's important to cultivate skills and always be learning, it's even more important to identify yourself as someone God loves and whom God has called. Hone your craft, practice your skills; be a great steward of the gifts God has entrusted to you.

But remember this: To truly walk in places that are far beyond your qualifications, to make an impact that is bigger than you are, you need God. You need to remember that it's in HIS hands to make great. And He really wants to do great things through you.

Embrace Your Identity. Obey Him Fully. Humble Yourself before Him. Trust His Timing. Tune out the enemy. And face down your fears. That's a recipe for greatness.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us (Ephesians 3:20 MSG).