January 04, 2012

Live Ready...

Sun Dogs at NWCHappy Wednesday, Friends! Susie Larson here...

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

Now on to my topic...

If you connect with me on Facebook, you already know that I lost my dad the day before last. On December 22nd, he went into the hospital with difficulty breathing. On December 23rd they diagnosed him with stage four lung cancer. And on January 2nd, he went home to be with the Lord. We're all stunned at how quickly his health declined. I'm so grateful that he is now pain free, but my grief overwhelms me at times.

As many of you know, I've felt especially drawn to study the end times lately. No matter where you stand on the topic, Jesus' return is closer than it's ever been. The other day, Andrew Hess Tweeted the following statement: Don't let your anticipation for 2012 overshadow the return of the King.

Amen and amen!

Jesus is coming soon. Though we can't and shouldn't try to determine the exact date of Christ's return, we must discern the times and the seasons just as He told us to. Based on fulfilled prophecies and the turbulence in our midst, I believe Jesus could come at any time. With all my heart I believe that a generation that walks the earth today will live to see the rapture. But even if I'm wrong, Jesus still calls us to live ready, alert, prayerful, and watchful. 

Furthermore, none of us knows how many days we have left on this earth. Life can change in the blink of an eye. May we refuse to take our days for granted and instead, wrap our arms around faith, hope, and love, and live in a manner worthy of His Name!

So how do we live ready? 

We open our eyes to the ways God is moving in our midst ~ Those who seek Him, will find Him (See Matthew 7:7-8).

We throw off sin, compromise, and petty thoughts associated with an earthbound life ~ Those who believe they have better things to do than grovel in the dirt, will do better things (See Hebrews 12:1). 

We engage our faith ~ Those who expect great thing from God will accomplish great things for God (See Ephesians 3:20).

We pray passionately ~ Those who approach God will holy confidence and humble dependence will see miraculous answers to prayer (See 1 John 3:21-22).

We give generously ~ Those who sow generously will reap generously. It's impossible to outgive God (See 2 Corinthians 9:6)

We make every moment count for eternity ~ Those who live now with eternity in mind will have a greater capacity to enjoy heaven  when they get there (See Ecclesiastes 3:11).

We are not made for this place! We're just passing through. May we refuse the curse of a hurried, disengaged life. May we instead awaken to the power, provision, and promise written over us. May we access and appropriate all God offers us that we might live up to our high privilege in Him.

May 2012 be a breakthrough year for you. May you live ready for Christ's return, making the moments count for eternity.

God bless you.

~Until next week.

December 28, 2011

Look Forward...

BeautifulGreetings, Dear Friends, and a Happy New Year to You!

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...

As the year 2011 draws to a close it's a great time to pause and thank God for the mercies He has shown us. Each and every morning this past year, new mercies greeted us because we needed them. Each and every night His faithfulness met us right where we lived. God has been faithful. We are still standing!

I'm always amazed when I hear movie stars say that they've lived with no regrets, because I have lots of regrets. With all of my heart, I wish I could say I never hurt another soul, I never uttered words that should not have been spoken, I never had a betraying thought, and I never got so busy that I missed my child's smile.

With everything in me I wish I could say that I've been grateful every day of my life that I have a roof over my head, fresh water to drink, a family who loves me, and a God who never fails me. I wish I could say that I've never been impatient with distracted drivers, or that I'm always gracious to rude people. Oh, Lord, I wish I were more like you! But I'm just me - someone whom God renews and redeems in deeper ways every single day. Oh, how I love Him so!

When the Lord told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and that his wife Sarah would bear a son in her old age, she laughed in disbelief and then tried to cover it up. But how is she remembered in the New Testament? As someone who believed God.

If you are a follower of Christ, your sins are forgiven. The regrets from 2011? They're covered in the blood of the Lamb, buried in the sea of forgetfulness! God remembers them no more! They are put out of His sight, no longer your burden to carry! Isn't that amazing?

What's even more amazing is what He remembers about you from 2011; He remembers every time you smiled at someone even though your own heart was breaking. He remembers when you laughed and played with your child while inside you were concerned about your finances. He remembers that you gave sacrificially to those who have less than you. All of these things are written down in the Book of Life - His book of remembrance of those He loves and has saved. Even when you talk with your friend about faith, He writes it down (see Malachi 3:16). 

Do not let the enemy remind you again of your sins, mistakes, and missteps from this past year. If you are in Christ, you are new creation! There is therefore NOW NO CONDEMNATION for you who are in Christ Jesus.

Forget what lies behind and look forward with faith and hope and thanksgiving! 

We are more than conquerors because of Christ in us! I don't think I'll ever fully comprehend His gift to us. But I am grateful nonetheless.

~Until next year

 

December 14, 2011

Take a Moment to Marvel...


MarvelGreetings, 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. Most of you know this already, but for our new visitors, I want you to know that each month I giveaway a $10.00 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So leave a post, share a story, and maybe you'll win a treat for you and your friends.

Now on to my topic...

Today...this week in fact, I ask you to pause and do a little marveling. Ponder right now, who God is and what He has done for you. Read this great excerpt from my 'Believer's Commentary':

"The converted person boasts in the Lord - not in his own character or achievements. When we understand the gospel of grace we realize that we did all the sinning and He did all the saving. So our boast must be in Him alone." (p.596)

We did all the sinning. He did all the saving. He is good to us every single day. Even when we don't notice it.
What does it mean to marvel?
To marvel means to: be amazed, be surprised, be astonished, be awed, stand in awe, wonder, stare, gape, be dumbfounded, be flabbergasted. 
Let's look at scene right out of the Word of God:

Jacob left Beersheba and went to Haran. He came to a certain place and camped for the night since the sun had set. He took one of the stones there, set it under his head and lay down to sleep.  And he dreamed: A stairway was set on the ground and it reached all the way to the sky; angels of God were going up and going down on it. Then God was right before him, saying, "I am God, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. I'm giving the ground on which you are sleeping to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will be as the dust of the Earth; they'll stretch from west to east and from north to south. All the families of the Earth will bless themselves in you and your descendants. Yes. I'll stay with you, I'll protect you wherever you go, and I'll bring you back to this very ground. I'll stick with you until I've done everything I promised you."

Jacob woke up from his sleep. He said, "God is in this place - truly. And I didn't even know it!" He was terrified. He whispered in awe, "Incredible. Wonderful. Holy. This is God's House. This is the Gate of Heaven." (Genesis 28:10-17 NLT).

It's so easy get sucked into the rat race of life and completely miss the idea that there are angels all around us; encamping around those who fear the Lord; serving and assisting us; going with us on our journey through life. 

We are not alone. Not even a little bit. Far greater are those who are for us than those who are against us. May the eyes of our hearts open up this holiday season; may we be more keenly aware of God's divine presence all around us. May we understand on a deeper level the resources and assistance to which we have access. Imagine. God, there for you, pulling for you. The Son, interceding for you day and night! The Holy Spirit nudging you, correcting you, convicting you, assuring you - all for your benefit. The angels, assisting you, cheering for you, protecting you. You are someone important! 

Yesterday I had a number of heavy things weighing on my heart, when all of the sudden Selah's Christmas song, "Joy!" came on the radio. Instantly my perspective lifted and my heart swelled with joy. I hopped out of my sink (oh, um, that's where I sit to do my makeup), and I started dancing around my bedroom. I was doing a happy dance. The Marvel Dance. 

Try it today. Put on a great song. Look up. Make yourself smile (I don't know why, but this does something for the soul), and do the Marvel dance.

In quieter moments, marvel with your heart's perspective. Be amazed; be astonished; wonder and stare at the story of the Christ-child and be in awe that He would hand Himself over in such a vulnerable way. For you.

Regardless of the state of things around you - marvel today because you are surrounded by a host of heavenly angels cheering you on; hear the noise in Heaven; they're all talking at the same time! But there's harmony because they all want the same thing for you: To live in the light of God's presence, and to walk out the divine, world-changing call on your life. Marvel at that thought of it. 

Smile today. Keep Smiling. Dance today. Keep Dancing. Marvel today. Keep Marveling. 

Until next week~

PS - If you haven't signed up for my quarterly E-zine yet, you might want to. My next issue comes out on January 15th and I have a stack of fun books to give away! Here's the link: Susie's Website

 

December 07, 2011

Make Room For Peace This Season...

Dinner TableHappy Wednesday, Friends! Susie Larson here...

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

It's time to announce the winner for November...and the winner is..."Wick". Congratulations and thanks for your posts! (email me your name and mailing address and we'll get your card out within the next week. My email is: [email protected]

Recently I had Ann Voskmap (author of the runaway bestseller, "One Thousand Gifts") on the show. We had a powerful conversation about giving thanks and about making sacred space for Jesus this holiday season. If you need a soul lift-me-up, listen to this show. I promise you, you'll be blessed by this interview. Here's the podcast link.

Now on to my topic...

A while back I had a great conversation with my sister. We talked about our bursting-at-the-seams task lists along with our desire to enjoy a better pace, a deeper peace, and a few sacred pauses this season. I'm not sure how you do it, but I'd like to share a few ideas that have worked for me over the years.

Remember, the holiday season only lasts a few short weeks. Typically we cram in our already crammed schedule, a bunch of parties, an 'ought-to' cookie exchange that we don't particularly enjoy, and a handful of other activities that make us more tired than joyful. 

Now granted, maybe a cookie exchange is the just the thing that brings you joy. Well, then, that's the very activity you should make time for in your schedule.

But, as Believers in Christ Jesus, as followers of our Most Sacred King, we must make room for HIM this season. We must not be at the mercy of the commercial craziness all around us! Just how do we engage in a better pace, embrace a deeper peace, and pause long enough to marvel at the works of God?

Here are a few ideas...

Postpone: Chances are, you've made for yourself an impossible task list this holiday season. Are there engagements you can postpone until after the holidays? Are there tasks that can wait? Can you make a few calls and create a little more room in the Inn this season? I encourage you to do just that.

Plan NOT to have Plans: Right now, before the month gets away from you, mark of at least one (better yet, two) nights a week where you plan not to have plans. Let your children miss practice, tell your church committee you need to be home this week. The world will go on even if you miss a meeting or two. Of course, you want to fulfill your responsibilities to others, but if those responsibilities take you away from Jesus, you might want to make some adjustments sooner than later. I promise you, you won't regret making extra room for Jesus this holiday season.

Practice the Pause: Every chance you get, stop in your tracks and take a brief moment to pause, to be still and know that our God is the One and Only, the True Almighty, the Lover of our Souls, and the Maker of Heaven and earth. Look around you and see His handiwork. Embrace the gift of living in a free country where you can lift your hands and praise Him in public, without fear for your life. Sit by the Christmas tree with a cup of cider and exhale; thank Him for your warm home and comfortable bed. Practicing the pause is excellent for your health and even better for your spirit. Cease striving and know that He is God!

Determine now to make room in your life, in your heart, and in your holidays for the Prince of Peace. I promise, you won't be sorry!

So, what do you do to make the holidays a sacred season? I'd love to know!

~Until Next Week

 

November 30, 2011

Live With Expectancy!

Close up Christmas pic

Greetings, Friends! Susie Larson here...

And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way. Each month I give away a $10.00 Starbucks giftcard to someone who posts on my blog. So share an insight, bless lots of folks, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend. 

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

Now on to my topic...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May He find faith in us.

~Until next week.

November 22, 2011

Pausing to Thank Him...

Flame

Happy Wednesday, Friends! Susie Larson here...

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

Now on to my topic...

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

Well, not this year! 

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

Why? Because we can. 

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

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

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

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

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

~Until next week...

 

November 17, 2011

Silence Your Unbelief!

Brisk MorningGreetings, Dear Friends!

Susie Larson here...

And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday (I'm a day late this week), and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way. Each month I give away a $10.00 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So leave a comment, share a story or insight, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend! 

Now on to my topic...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Until next week. 

 

 

November 09, 2011

You Now Stand!

Darkness and Light.jpg Happy Wednesday, Friends! Susie Larson here...

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

Now on to my topic...

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

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

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

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

Redemption = clearing, absolution, debt honored, return

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Until next week. 

 

November 02, 2011

Afraid You'll Mess Up?

Backyard FallHappy Wednesday, Friends! Susie Larson here...

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

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

Now on to my topic...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now let's apply this to us:

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

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

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

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

~Until next week. 

October 26, 2011

Beloved and Armed...

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

Now on to my topic...

Recently I gathered together with a couple of my mentors and a close girlfriend (who also receives great input from these older, wiser women). We had a special time of prayer and ministry and it was life-changing for me. With grace and humility, these women came alongside me and helped unearth old fears that had suddenly surfaced to trip me up in a whole new way. 

God is so good. And so kind. He - in His gentle and loving way - pointed to painful past memories that provided the enemy ample opportunity to sow a few lying seeds without my knowledge. Seeds that would later produce the bad fruit of fear, doubt, and worry.

Together with my golden girls, we asked the Lord to bring truth where I had believed a lie. And He did. The Scripture promises, "You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32). I love this passage from Psalm 51:6 ~ "You desire truth in my inmost being, and the hidden places, You'll make me know wisdom."

If a lie remains in those 'hidden places' it'll produce rotten fruit and dysfunction, and will compel us to live in perpetual reaction to our fears. But when the light of God's Word shines in those hidden places, and when we give Him access to our souls to uproot the lie and replace it with truth, well then we suddenly have wisdom where their once was foolishness, clarity where there once was confusion, healthy function where there once was dysfunction. And that's one of the amazing things about the power of the Gospel. Jesus came to set captives free! There's no memory or experience out of God's reach. He is the Redeemer, Restorer, Healer, and one who establishes us beyond our wildest dreams.

Too often we feel at the mercy of our fears and our circumstances but we really aren't. We possess all in Christ. But we so easily forget who we are and what we possess because our circumstances and fears scream loud and they connect with lies buried with in us. Those buried lies compel us to agree with our present fears. That's why it's important to pay attention to over reactions and perpetual fears. Like my pastor said to me years ago, "Don't be afraid when the enemy stirs up your fears. Jesus is using that moment to reach into your soul, grab hold of that fear so you can see it and then He says to you, "You see this thing? I'm about to deliver you!" If we push it down, medicate, or plug our ears and run away, we miss a perfect opportunity to finally be set free.

At the end of our beautiful prayer time, one of my golden girls asked the Lord, "Jesus, show Susie how you see her." And wouldn't you know, I instantly had a picture in my mind of a Beloved Bride with a BIG sword. Ha ha. That made me laugh and rejoice all at once. 

I took that picture with me into my prayer time the next morning and I have to say, this picture is for all of us. Men typically don't identify with the 'Beloved' part of our identity but they must. We belong to God and are deeply cherished by Him. And to know this truth, changes everything. And women don't typically identify with the fact that as followers of Christ, we are armed and dangerous! But we are! You don't have to be mighty in stature to be mighty in battle. You can be four feet tall and send that enemy packing if you intimately know the greatness of God within you.

Know this today. You are unfathomly loved by your Creator. You are the object of His affection. And you are equipped for every battle. Get to know the armor that God has provided you (found in Ephesians). No weapon formed against us will prosper. Every battle the Lord leads us into is a winnable one. And nothing can separate us from His love. 

Wow. We're covered in every way. Have a great day.

~Until next week