18 posts categorized "Obedience"

February 22, 2011

Responding to God...

DSCF0086

Happy Wednesday, Friends!  Susie Larson here...

I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way! Each month I give away a $10.00 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So leave a comment, share an insight, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend!

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

Now on to my topic...

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

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

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

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

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

Read this passage from Acts 14: 1-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And how will people respond?

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

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

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

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

Move powerfully in and through us, Lord!

~ Until next week

 

December 08, 2010

Embrace Small Beginnings...

Breakthrough Sunrise

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

As most of you know, I have a radio show,Live the Promise with Susie Larson The program now airs 6 days a week! Join us every weekday from 2:30-3:00 CST, and on Saturdays from noon to one, KTIS AM 900, on the Faith Radio Network, or listen online at: www.faith900.com We've had some amazing guests and some powerful dialogue. Hope you can join us!

Also, I want you to have the inside scoop. Be sure to check my Facebook page for a heads up on my weekly giveaways (that way you'll know when to call for a book you may want). I'll also post daily questions and may read your comments on the air.  

Now on to my topic...

I've been thinking today - especially in light of all of the commercials for the next-best-thing - about  our insatiable desire for more - More - MORE. In fact, we rush through stages and process because we're anxious to get to the next - BEST place. 

Now hear me correctly, I say it all of the time, I do believe God has a next place of promise for all of us. But there's something to be said about embracing the small places, the small beginnings, when you're only able to bring a small offering. Those are sweet and sacred places. The Bible says that godliness with contentment is great gain.

I've known a number of people who bit off more than they could chew by stepping into a too-big-for-them business venture that was beyond their ability to carry.  And, in no time, the walls came crumbling down. I've known young people who didn't want to wait for the American dream of a house, two cars, a dog, and a cat, so they put it all on credit and lived the illusion for a short time, until the walls came crashing down.

The Bible calls us not to despise our small beginnings but rather to embrace them. God is a God of process and wisdom and pays a great amount of attention to detail. If we don't have the bigger thing, or if we're not walking in our full-sized dream just yet, it's because it wouldn't be good for us at this moment. God is always good, always looking out for us, and always ready to bless us at just the right time. 

God designed the wonder of life in a seed, and when that seed is planted in the ground, life springs forth. We don't always want to wait for the process, we want the full grown plant. But the process is what makes us ready; it's what matures us and makes us better able to carry and sustain the desire of our heart. It's not just about getting what we want, it's about our ability to steward, carry, and sustain that gift with grace, honor, and humility.

Are you waiting for something bigger, something better, something different?

Embrace your small place and trust God. Give Him an offering of thanksgiving even if it costs you. This is true: how we handle these small beginnings determines how we fare when the blessing comes.

Hope you're having a blessed and beautiful holiday season!

~Until next week...

 

September 07, 2010

The Path of Life...

Hipsta Sunrise  

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

As most of you know, I have a new radio show, Live the Promise with Susie Larson. The program airs every Saturday morning from noon to 1:00 CST. And guess what? We are going live on weekdays too, starting Monday, September 20th (from 2:30-3:00 CST). Tell your friends and listen in! I'll be doing giveaways on the air every week. 

And, a quick note about this week's show! My guest this week has a lot to say about the effectiveness of our Christianity and impact of our spiritual influence in America. He says that much of the Western church is sleeping. This show will serve as a wake up call to many. My guest was author and social critic Os Guiness. We talked about his new book, "The Last Christian on Earth: Uncovering the Enemy's Plot to Undermine the Church." This was a powerful show. Be sure to listen in on KTIS AM 900, or listen online at: www.faith900.com 

Now on to my topic...

Recently I wrestled with some uncharitable feelings towards someone who had hurt me on several occasions. I didn't gossip about this person. I didn't wish harm to him. He just bothered me and it bothered me so that I was bothered by him. 

I was tempted to stroll down memory lane and replay some the reasons for my frustration, but God interrupted my thoughts and whispered this across my heart, "Pray for his blessing and his success. Pray that he might be protected in his weakness, and covered when he feels exposed. Pray that My love surrounds him in such a way that he feels totally safe, totally loved, and totally cared for."

So thankful for the redirection of my thoughts, I began to pray, and pray I did. As I poured out my heart to God, my heart was filled with compassion and understanding towards someone who tends to rub me the wrong way. As I prayed my heart felt instantly lighter. Then another whisper crossed my heart. The Lord whispered to me "This, is the path of life." 

Right away I remembered Psalm 16:11

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence the fullness of joy is found. At Your right hand are pleasures forever more.

Ultimately, the path of life, is the path of Calvary and the victory won there. First and foremost, our lives are saved through Christ's obedient walk to the Cross to defeat death and the punishment for sin on our behalves. 

But then there's the day-to-day walk of faith. Do we choose to bless or curse? To speak life or speak death? To contribute to our surroundings or to drain it of its resources? The Bible says that there are ways that seem right, but in the end they lead to death. 

I've heard stories of people feeling so justified in tearing down their pastor for his style of preaching that they ran him out of their church and drove him right into depression and disillusionment. Where's the life in that? I've said this many times before, but if we have to let go of love to defend our cause, we have lost our way.

The path of life is the place where God's power is most present. It's the place where our lives are most submitted to Hs will, and where our hearts are most pure. It's not necessarily about abstaining from this or that; it's much more active than that. It's about stepping into God's highest and best purposes for us, and, on behalf of those around us - each and every day. 

Do you want to know where the high road is in your life, in your day, in your hour? If you really want to know, He will show you. Read the first part of Psalm 16:11 again, "You will show me the path of life." 

Do you want your life to be so full of the life of God that you spill it out to everyone you meet? Stay hidden in Christ. Choose life. Look at the second part of that passage: In Your presence the fullness of joy is found. At Your right hand are pleasures forever more.

We don't find 'the fullness of joy' from getting our way or from proving we're right or from nursing a grudge. We find it in His presence where life abounds, forgiveness is given, and death is swallowed up in victory. 

The path of life is before you, every day, every hour. Just be still and quiet your heart and you'll hear Him say, "This is the way; walk ye in it." 

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way;walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21).

~Until next week

August 18, 2010

Sin, Faith, and Duty...

Crossinthewoods  

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

As most of you know, I have a new radio show, Live the Promise with Susie Larson. The program airs every Saturday morning from noon to 1:00 CST. And guess what? We may be going live-daily in the fall! I have a special prayer request for you: Will you stand with me in believing God for a sponsor for the show? I'll keep you posted. Thank you so much!

Last week my guest was syndicated radio host and author Jim Burns. We discussed his great book, "Closer: Devotions to Draw Couples Together." We had an excellent interview and Jim offered lots of great wisdom for couples.

Check out the podcast from that show. 

And, I am excited about this week's show! Listen in as I interview co-authors of the great book, "Wisdom Walks." Dan Britton and Jimmy Page serve at an executive level for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. They were hilariously funny and wonderfully wise. You'll enjoy this interview. Listen in on KTIS AM 900, or listen online at: www.faith900.com  

Now on to my topic...

One of my favorite things to do is to meditate on certain passages of Scripture for several days in a row; to think through and ponder the truth and how it applies to my life and to the culture in which we live. 

This past week I kept coming back to a certain passage from the Gospel of Luke. I'll share it in just a moment. But first, I want to ask you a question (borrowed from AA's 12-Step Program): How often do you take a fearless, searching moral inventory of your life? 

Though I'm not much of a gardner, I know that true gardeners are on top of the weeds that threaten the seeds they've planted. They regularly survey their land and quickly uproot that which would choke out life so that life in the garden might prevail. 

Let's take a look at three areas in our own lives that may need a little attention. 

Sin:

First, let's read from Luke 17:1, 3

Jesus said to His disciples, "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come...So watch yourselves."

Let's pray: 

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts; point out anything in me that offends You (Ps. 39). Show me any area in my life that causes others to stumble. I know I have blind spots that everybody sees but me. By Your grace and mercy, help me to humbly receive Your help in my place of need. I do not want to make others stumble. I want to be a wellspring of Life because Your power is mightily at work in and through me! Raise up a new standard in my life, Lord. Amen.

Faith:

(Jesus said): If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea', and it will obey you." (Luke 17:6)

Let's pray:

Father, increase my faith! When I take inventory of my life, I want to see tangible increases in faith steps, faith results, and faith endeavors. I don't want to live a self-protected, small life! Forgive me for the countless ways I play it safe when You are calling me to a great adventure! You call me to speak to my mountains and speak to my obstacles (not to wish, whine, and complain about them). Help me to become a mighty woman of faith - filled with the power of the Holy Spirit - moved by Your heart for the world! You are looking over the earth, searching for faith; may You find it in me.

Duty:

(Jesus said): Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the feild, 'Come along now and sit down to eat?' Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink?' Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants, we have only done our duty.'" (Luke 17:7-10).

Let's pray:

Precious Lord, this passage convicts me deeply. How many times have I complained about the cost or expected others to notice and understand my sacrifice? Father, forgive me for selfish serving! Forgive me for expecting a thank you when, really, I was only doing my duty! It's an honor to be linked in fellowship with You! It's an honor to serve You. Help me to live in this self-entitled culture with an honorable, servant's heart. May I serve and live for an audience of One. My hope is in you, my purpose is found in You, and You get all of the glory for transforming me from an orphan to an heir. Blessed be Your Name. Amen.

May we walk in such close fellowship with the Savior that our very lives on earth nourish and bless others (and never cause another to stumble). May we be ever-increasing in faith and may our lives bear tangible evidence of this fact. And may we serve not to get the credit or a thank you or to be noticed, but may we humbly do our duty as unto the Lord - just because He's worth our absolute best. We could be stuck in a tyrannical system, but we're not. We serve a loving-living God who cares deeply for us. He deserves the best we can give Him.

~Until next week

August 10, 2010

Recipe for Greatness...

Backyard Sunrise2  

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

As most of you know, I have a new radio show, Live the Promise with Susie Larson. The program airs every Saturday morning from noon to 1:00 CST. And guess what? We may be going live-daily in the fall! I have a special prayer request for you: Will you stand with me in believing God for a sponsor for the show? I'll keep you posted. Thank you so much!

Last week my guest was Chrissy Toledo (daughter of author and Pastor Jim Cymbala - Brooklyn Tabernacle and Carol Cymbala, director of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir). She shared about her prodigal journey away from God's heart, and how she found her way home again. This was a powerful show! 

Check out the podcast from that show. 

And, I am REALLY excited about this week's show! Listen in as my guest is syndicated radio host and author Jim Burns. We'll discuss his great book, "Closer: Devotions to Draw Couples Together." We had an excellent interview and Jim offered lots of great wisdom for couples. Listen in on KTIS AM 900, or listen online at: www.faith900.com 

Now on to my topic...

Lately I've been reading through the book of 2 Chronicles and am once again 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? 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). 

Until next week~

June 16, 2010

Strengthen Yourself in Him...

God on the water  

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

Two quick announcements:

In celebration of my newest release, Growing Grateful Kids, I'm giving away a 4G-I-pod Shuffle to someone who posts a book review on Amazon (only one month left on this promotion!). Go to my Facebook page, click on the Free I-pod! tab for more information. 

My new radio show, Live the Promise with Susie Larson launched last Saturday (Noon to 1:00 CST)! My guest this Saturday is author and evangelist Matt Brown. We'll be talking about people, in every generation, who have advanced the Kingdom of God. We had a powerful conversation. Be sure to listen in! For more information, go to: www.Faith900.com 

Now, on to my topic...

First of all, thanks so much to all of you that prayed for my family. Bless you, bless you! 

Our pastor recently asked us to read Revelations 2 and 3 and to ask ourselves, "What is the Spirit saying to our church?" I loved this assignment and I think it's a wise thing to do. I need a few more days with these two chapters before I'll really have a sense of where we are at as a Body of Believers.

However, something struck me during my reading time this morning. I was reading about the Church in Sardis. They had a reputation for being alive, but they were dead. 

Reputation: A widespread belief or perception

How many churches, ministries, and people have a look of being successful but at their core (to borrow a phrase from 'The Princess Bride') are mostly dead?

What a scary thought!

Verse 2 reads: Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

My NIV Study Notes offered this insight: Outwardly the (Church of Sardis) appeared spiritually alive and active and had a reputation of success. But Jesus saw the absence of the inner reality of Himself in the hearts of the people; he saw religion, not spiritual life.

What a wake up call for us! 

Is there any area in your spiritual life that you've allowed to go on auto pilot or that has become a rote practice, void of life? 

The passage above advises us to strengthen what remains, to remember what we have received, to obey what God has asked us to do, and to repent of our sins.

How easy it is to go through the motions, to look good, but to bear little fruit! And yet, there's an answer for us. We are to strengthen what life we have in us.

When the Psalmist David was in one of the battles of his life, the Bible says that he 'strengthened himself in the Lord.' (See 1 Samuel 30:6) 

I believe that David simply reminded himself of God's greatness, His faithfulness, His promises, and His presence. I think David probably nourished his soul by telling himself that he was not alone and that he mattered to God. 

While we still have today, may we abide in the Vine, and receive the fresh life flowing from Him! May we refuse to live a 'religious' life; one that is absent of a fresh, thriving, and fruitful life. May everything we do be motivated by our love for God and our response to His love.

When God looks upon His people, when He looks upon you and me, what does He find? 

Does He find us striving in our strength? Deeply motivated by our own selfish ambitions?

Or does He find our delight in Him? Humbly waiting for His lead in our lives? 

May everything we do, be in response to His love. 

Author John Ortburg's mentor once said to him, "The devil drives. The Shepherd leads."

No matter what you look like to the world, successfully huge, or obscurely small, let Him lead, and humbly follow. You'll find your strength in Him.

Until next week~

February 02, 2010

Preparing for Promotion...

BeautifulPath  

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!

A Quick Note:

I am thrilled to announce the upcoming 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), pre-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...

As I prayed about what to share this week, one idea kept surfacing in my thoughts. I think a number of you may be walking a rough road right now, but that road may be leading you to your next place of promise. God is getting you ready for a promotion!

As I've mentioned before, the Old Testament story of Joseph is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. And since I've referenced his story several times on this blog, I won't spend too much time on the details of his story. But I would like to highlight a few of the bumps in his road; places on his journey that both softened and strengthened him, and made him ready to do great things.

The obvious bumps in Joseph's road were the betrayal of his brothers and subsequent slavery, his refusal to dishonor his boss's wife and the false accusation and prison that followed. But I would like to highlight a few of the not so obvious challenges; ones that you and I face every day; and ones that may qualify or disqualify us for promotion: 

Stewardship: Joseph had a dream of leadership and management on a large scale. And yet, first he was given the task of managing households and prisons. Scripture reminds us not to despise the days of small beginnings. Are you serving in a place that feels too small for your giftings? God is with you! Embrace contentment and thanksgiving. Don't grumble there. Don't let that place define you. Keep your eye on the horizon because one day, God will open up new doors of opportunity. But faithfulness in-this-place is crucial if you wish to be fruitful in the next place God has for you.

Being overlooked: God used Joseph to interpret the dreams of two prisoners. In fact, Joseph was completely accurate in his interpretation; everything happened as he suggested it would. To the one prisoner who was about to be released, Joseph said, "Please mention me to Pharaoh! For I am innocent and did nothing to deserve this place!" (my paraphrase). But, once the man was released from prison, he forgot all about Joseph. I know this happens in the refining process: God uses us in a powerful way, but the person who could help us, make a connection for us, or open a door for us, is either looking the other way, or simply forgets all about us. What will we do during such times? This is a perfect test of the heart; it exposes our ambition and impatience. This is a great opportunity to humbly embrace God's timing and to trust that He'll deliver us when we are good and ready. And an important note: we must NOT put our hope in mere men. God-alone has the power to open doors for us and He knows how to get to us; He knows our address.

Walking out his dream: Okay, just so I don't make Joseph sound perfect, I'll address something he could have done a little differently. When you consider that Joseph's brothers didn't like him all that much to begin with, it wasn't all that wise for Joseph to flap his dream in their faces; especially since his dream involved them bowing before him. This is very tempting when we have a dream taking shape in our souls. Of course we should humbly share our dreams with safe people who will call our gifts out of us. But as we grow into our calling, it's much better to walk it out, then to spend time talking about it. 

Once Joseph got past the bragging, he walked out his dream beautifully. He surrendered to God; he submitted to the Lord's refining work in his life; and he embraced his lot, each and every time. And when it was his time, he stepped from the prison to the palace like it was no big deal. He was ready. May we be as ready.

What's God doing in your life? I'd love to know.

Have a great week~

January 27, 2010

Fear Masquerading As Wisdom...



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!

It's time to announce this month's winner...

Joy Ballard, congratulations! Email me at: [email protected] with your mailing address and I'll get your gift card out to you within the next week or so. Blessings to you all and thanks for your posts!

Now on to my topic...

I like Wednesday mornings. I wake up extra early to do my Watchman Prayer (an hour designated to pray for the families and ministries at my church), I get to talk to one of my mentors when I call to hand the prayer baton to her. Those few minutes of deep spiritual dialogue give me food for thought the rest of the day. And, another great thing about Wednesdays is that I get to connect with YOU!

This morning, my mentor and I talked about what it means to venture out in faith to the unknown zone. God is moving in our midst. Are we willing to go where He leads? 

My mentor said something struck a cord with me. Here's what she said: "All too often, we don't want to look foolish or take certain risks, so we stay safe and miss God. Which is really just fear masqueraded as wisdom." 

Just what kinds of fears are we talking about here? Fear of man, fear of the unknown, fear of discomfort, and fear of looking foolish; these are the ones that come to my mind. What will people think if I fail or look foolish? What if God asks me to do something that really costs me? Do I really want to take the risk of being uncomfortable? 

But let's look at Jesus' life. Is there anything about His time on earth that catered to other's opinions, looking foolish, or personal comforts? At some point we have to get free from such things if we want to live Kingdom lives here on earth!

God is on the move! And He wants us to move with Him! 

Are you clinging to safety and comfort and calling it wisdom?

Sometimes it is wise to stay put when everyone else is running. But sometimes it's just safe, and not wise at all. 

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

"Being a believer involves faith. And faith involves risk - calculated yet heroic steps that lead us out of places of self-protecting and into places of God-provision. Embracing our freedom means we are willing to press past our fears because freedom is better...When God says, 'Go!' it's more dangerous to stay behind. There is less risk in moving into the unknown than in lagging behind in disobedience and unbelief" (p.210).

Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along HIS path. He will honor you, giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed (Psalm 37:34).

Here's another verse that I love:

Do not fear ANYTHING except the Lord Almighty. He ALONE is the Holy One. If you FEAR HIM, you need fear nothing else. HE will keep you safe (Isaiah 8:13-14).

May we embrace faith and be truly wise. 

~Until next week

December 08, 2009

Embrace the Season...

Presents under the tree  

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...

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I've been walking through a spiritual battle of sorts. I'm thankful to say that I'm now on the other side of the battle and thrilled to be! Not that any circumstances changed, at all, but Christ made Himself at home in my life in a new and deeper way (Gal. 2:20). My resolve to follow Him was strengthened and my understanding of the importance of humility and surrender increased exponentially. 

Looking back over the past few weeks, it occurred to me that we as followers of Christ are often in one of two seasons: A season of reaping or a season of refining. Sometimes we experience both of these seasons at the same time, but in different areas of life. 

Many people today are walking through a refining season of life. Times are difficult. Plans fail. People let us down. The enemy presses in hard. Resources are scarce and it's tempting to wonder, where is God?

Refining seasons are not fun at all but they are essential to our spiritual maturity and growth. What do we do during such times? 

We embrace the season with all of the faith we can muster. We trust that God is up to something good. We stand strong against the threats of the enemy. We keep our shield raised high, and we determine through it all, that God is always good. And then, we keep walking.

The following verse got me through some of the worst times in my life:

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest (Psalm 126: 5-6).

When everything in our lives feels out of control and out of our hands, what do we do? We kneel down, we plant our seeds of faith, we water them with our tears, and then we cry out to God and declare Him faithful. Those who dare to do such a radical thing, will come out the other side carrying a harvest in their arms. What a payoff. Plant a few seeds. Carry a harvest in our arms. God's Word is true.

*This past Monday I was a guest on Along the Way and talked about this very thing. Check it out if you're interested. It was a good interview: Susie on Along the Way...

Now let's address the season of reaping...

Over and over again in the Bible we read about the idea of sowing and reaping. Of planting seeds and of gathering a harvest. For every serious follower of Christ, it's a given that we regularly plant seeds. We plant seeds of faith when we seed a need. We plant seeds of life and encouragement into those we meet. We plant seeds of God's Word in the barren places of our lives, knowing, that one day, life will spring forth and a harvest will grow. Furthermore, seeds are planted in us. Again, for the earnest Christian, when the soil of our hearts is prepared and healthy, a bountiful crop will result (See Mark 4). 

When we enter a seasons of reaping and of favor, it's wonderful! We begin to see the fruit of our hard work. We see evidences of our faith become actual substance. We eat from the fruit of our labor. But a caution here: When the wind is at our back and we see breakthroughs all around, it's tempting to loosen our grip on the Vine; to think that life is good because, perhaps, we are good. 

Anytime life is good, it's because God is good. And when life is bad, is God still good? You know the answer. Absolutely. Yes. All of the time.

Stewardship is important during seasons of reaping. Every good gift comes from the Father. We can do nothing apart from Him. We are blessed to be a blessing. God allows us to partner with Him in this Kingdom work, but it's His work. He gives to us, trusting that we'll give some away. We are flow-through accounts to a world in need. 

Read this powerful passage:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for foodwill also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God (2 Corinthians 9:6-11).

Are you in a season of refining? It's painful, I know. Embrace the season and trust that God is good. Plant seeds of faith. Believe that this painful season will change. Bow your knee to your Maker. Hang on to your identity. Envision the harvest. No seeds are more precious to God than those planted in difficult times and watered with tears of desperate faith. Envision the harvest because that kind of sowing is a big deal to God.

Are you in a season of reaping? It's wonderful, I know. Embrace the season and steward it well because every good gift comes from above. Sow more seeds. Give more away. Believe for greater things, knowing that another season of harvest will be yours in due time. 

Seasons come and seasons go for this is the walk of faith!

Press on in His name.

~Until next week...

September 01, 2009

How Far...

Godmoving

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 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So share an insight or story, 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 August. Drum roll please...

Liz (don't have a last name but you comment on 8/10/09)! Congratulations! To claim your prize, just email me at: [email protected] with your mailing address. A little side note: you have to claim your prize before I announce next month's winner! Be blessed.

Now on to my topic...

I've been working especially hard in the past several months. I've been stretched and strained and strengthened, all at the same time. Even here, God has been especially present.

I want to take just a few minutes to explore three things:

1.) How far Jesus went to save us

2.) How far He has removed our transgressions from us

3.) And how far we will follow Him, especially when parts of us have to die in the process


I think we all know how far Jesus went to save us. But let's pause for a moment today and ponder this priceless gift. Before we knew the depth of our offense, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Whenever I take communion, I can't help but think about Jesus at the last supper. Was He trembling on the inside at the thought of the road ahead? Was He most concerned about the pain and disillusionment His disciples would endure when they saw Him on the cross? While He walked this earth, He felt our feelings, and endured our struggles. When the time came, when He fell to the ground, a bloody mess, He could have said one word and the angels would have rescued Him, which would have changed everything for us. But He was silent. He would not allow Himself to be rescued. He didn't draw all kinds of personal boundaries because of past offenses. He took it all. All for love. He went the distance for you and me. We were on His mind. Amazing love.

Regarding our sins, the Bible says that He has removed our transgressions from us. As far as the East is form the West, so far has He removed our sins from us! Is it possible to travel so far East that when you get there, you're actually in the West? Doesn't matter. East will always be East of West. Never the two shall meet. For every redeemed person, that's how far your sin is away from you. You're in one place, your sin in another. Pause today, and consider this: you are not the sum of your flaws. You are not your track record. You are someone God loves. Fresh start. New day. Wonderful Mercies. All offered to you this day. Walk in the fullness of God today. Let's never take such a gift for granted!

In light of this great love, can I ask you a question? How far will you go for Him? Is He calling you to take a road less traveled? To revisit an old painful memory? To humble yourself and forgive? To walk away from anger and bitterness? Will you follow Him? I pray that you will.

He will never lead us astray. He's always good. He is the Redeemer, after all.

Have a blessed week.

And if you've never signed up for my FREE Quarterly E-zine, I'd love it if you did. We give away some free books, share a devotional, share some great quotes and book recommendations, and give you a prayer to send you on your way. Sign up by clicking the link below:


And, I'm finally on FACEBOOK! 

Find me by clicking the link below: