Freedom

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“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

Feeling like there is too much to do? Too many loose ends? Lots to worry about? There is a spiritual exercise helpful to me when I am feeling that way and I thought it might help you, too.

I begin to tell God my concerns, and He invites me to lay them down one-by-one. They became an imaginary pile beside me. Then I see myself walking toward Him, leaving the pile behind. I see it getting smaller and smaller as I move closer to Him.

I sense God’s pleasure as He has my complete attention. Just the two of us – lots of smiles, joy. I know I am free, lighter, less serious, more transparent, and I can sense His response, “I have redeemed you so you could be free from bondage to your own desires, from pleasing others, from feeling burdened or stressed. Live lightly.”

Then I go on in my prayer time, honestly sharing my heart and my needs, interceding for others as He calls me to do. Turning to go back, I see in the distance the things I laid down. As I get closer to the pile, I realize that I must be very careful what I choose to pick up again. Much of it I will simply leave in His hands. God has made us free. Free to be His.

“In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth, God is pleased when we’re pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker’s praise without anxiety.” – A. W. Tozer

 

Content?

"Godliness with contentment is great gain." - 1 Timothy 6:6

“I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.” – Philippians 4:11 (Amplified Bible)

“Dear God, it seems I am never satisfied. Instead I always have a new goal to pursue or want one more thing to change – a relationship, a habit, or an attitude. I am getting tired of always reaching. Instead, I sense You calling me to contentment, to quit looking for more or better. Sometimes just to stop and enjoy what is.”

“My child, My desire is that you live free of worries about appearances, clothing, finances, and food. Live, instead, close to the earth, close to Me, My name easily on your lips and always in your heart.

Slow down.

Simplify.

Contemplate.

Share.

Serve.

Love.

And always give thanks.

Oh, and one more thing: Just for today, put down your notepad, stop making lists, and simply enjoy being in My presence and walking wherever I take you. Contentment always follows when you are on the path with Me.”

“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking.” – George Macdonald

 

“Because he loves me. . .”

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Because he loves me says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” (Psalm 91:14-15 – emphasis added)

Our Father in Heaven wants to give us good gifts. Really. Though we are never promised trouble-free lives, I can’t help noticing all the times God promises to do amazingly nice things for those who stay close to Him.

Psalm 91 is just one example. In it, God promises to deliver, protect, send angels, answer prayer, rescue, honor, give long life, and save. When we are stressed or attacked or feeling trapped, we’d like to see Him come to our rescue, right?

In this psalm, there are two things we must do to be able to receive God’s great blessings: First, we need to love Him (v. 14) and second, we are to “dwell” with Him (vv. 1 and 9). In other words, we are to make God an intimate part of lives.

Why is that important? Because we were created to be in an all-encompassing relationship with Him.  So when we live as He has designed us to live, hanging on to Him in love and living in sync with Him day-by-day, He promises to take good care of us. Whatever may happen, (and it will!) we will not be alone, we will not be powerless.

When we love and trust Him, He treats us as a Father treats His dearly loved children: responding, protecting, providing, and guiding. He wants to give us good things!

“We love God because He alone promises to fill our soul’s potential.” – Lewis Smedes

Heavenly Daydream

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“Send forth Your light and Your truth. Let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell.” – Psalm 43:3

I was greeted at heaven’s border and told I had to leave everything at the gate. “Don’t need your purse – it just holds money (everything’s paid for here) and i.d. (we know who you are). Don’t need your clothes – you need to forget about whether you’re dressed right. Here’s a robe. You’ll fit right in. No shoes.” I took them off.

All possessions, worries, and responsibilities had to be dropped on the ground.

I left it all, and then, unburdened, moved with complete freedom toward where I sensed the Throne would be. I could hear flowing water and music. There were uncrowded crowds of people, many worshiping with faces to the ground. Angels moving, singing. Joy, peace, love, excitement, contentment.

The group opened to accommodate my unspoken (and very earthly) desire to be “up front.” Then I realized position/place didn’t matter. He was everywhere, encompassing time, space, everyone.

The overpowering feeling was one of belonging. My thoughts ran like this: I belong to God. I belong to these people. I belong in Heaven. I fit in. I am accepted, loved, valued. Not for what I do or only if I behave correctly. Just because I am me, as He made me, as He wants me to be.

You belong, too. Let Him reach you, forgive you, love you, and encompass you in His earthly embrace and then, someday, in the wide circle of heavenly belonging. It will be great to see you there!

“Life on earth matters not because it’s the only life we have, but precisely because it isn’t – it’s the beginning of a life that will continue without end.” –  Randy Alcorn

 

 

 

Just What I Needed to Hear

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“Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.” – Psalm 31:24

God is always ready to talk to us. Sometimes He just has to wait until we slow down enough to listen. Then He whispers to our hearts words especially suited for whatever situation we face. I have found that, most often, His messages are variations of one of these:

• I love you.
• I will never leave you.
• Don’t be afraid.

Which do you need today? To know how much He loves you? To be secure in His faithfulness? Or to experience the peace that comes by trusting Him?

You can start the conversation by praying with honesty and sincerity about your need. You could even ask Him to awaken your heart to be ready to hear what He wants to say in response. Then just wait in quietness. His message will be perfect to meet what the ancients called your “pressing necessity”. He always knows just what we need to hear. Sh-h-h. Listen.

“He hath never failed thee yet.
Never will His love forget.
O fret not thyself nor let
Thy heart be troubled,
Neither let it be afraid.” 

 – Amy Carmichael

 

 

 

Change Me

“Be the penetrating light which illumines my intellect,

the gentle motion which attracts and directs my will,

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“. . . a longing fulfilled is like a tree of life.” – Proverbs 13:12

the supernatural power which gives energy to my body.

Complete in me Your work of sanctification and love. Make me

pure
transparent
simple
true
free
peaceful
gentle
calm
and burning with charity toward God and my neighbor.

Amen.”

This prayer (written by a woman known simply as Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit) touched me because it describes so much that I, too, want to pray.

Look at those words of peace, freedom, and calm, resulting, at the end, in loving God and others. Do they resonate with you, too? If so, I invite you to join with me in praying this borrowed plea often and sincerely. Only God can make the changes in us that we so desperately need.

He’s First

Do you ever wish God would just write His will across the sky so you can understand it clearly? Something like that happened to me a couple of weeks ago. Actually, it wasn’t the sky He wrote on, it was a mountain.

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“My soul yearns for You in the night; in the morning, my spirit longs for You.” – Isaiah 26:9a

I got up, started the coffee in preparation for my early morning time with God, and began a conversation with Him as the coffee began to brew. As I waited, I looked out the kitchen window toward the mountains to the southwest. A prominent snowfield was visible on one of them and had melted into the shape of a giant “1”. I looked again thinking I must be seeing it wrong. But, no, it was really a “1”. God had written His will on the side of a mountain for me to see: He wants to be first in my life!

As I prayed, I realized He wants to be the first one I think of when I wake up in the morning, the first one I turn to when I need help, the first one I recognize when something good happens in my life, and the only one I ever worship.

The snowy “1” remained there for the rest of our stay in the mountains and was a many-times-a-day reminder of God’s perfect will for me – and for all of us who are His children. When we make Him first, we are less afraid, worried, and frustrated and more often filled with love, joy, and peace. It’s the best way to live!

“Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.” ~Malcolm Muggeridge