Pulled Open & Slammed Shut.

“For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.” Hebrews 3:4 ESV

“Did you get new knobs?” Sitting in the kitchen for coffee, my friend noticed the new bright blue and yellow cabinet knobs.

“No, we just now installed them!” Though we built our home six years ago, some things are still on the “to-do” list.

Hebrews Chapter 3 got me thinking about the building process, and the way it admonished Christ as the builder alongside God of the house …the church …us. (Hebrews 3:6) We are built on a firm foundation, but sometimes neglect to install pulls and knobs to properly open all God has for us. 

Overwhelmed with joy to move our growing family into a larger space where we could all breath our own air, knobs and pulls seemed easy to live without. But after opening and closing drawers and cabinet doors for six years in the wrong way, they became crooked, dirty and loose. 

I sifted through a bin of blue and yellow flowered knobs caught my eye at the craft store, purchased and placed them on my kitchen counter. There they sat, for weeks, waiting to be installed. But eventually, they donned my kitchen cabinets, and we began opening things the right way. 

Pulling on things the wrong way wears them out prematurely. 

I have worn the corners of my life in similar ways, procrastinating the process of change. The cycle of disappointment can rob my will to start. Frustrated with myself, worn corners start to wear off on everything and everyone my life touches. Enter, cycle of shame. 

Christ never pulls on us in a way that prematurely wears us out. Shame is NEVER from Jesus. He died to put shame to shame, to erase guilt. So when we’re feeling that way, it’s our lurking enemy and this broken world seeking to keep us from simply installing the right knobs and pulls in our lives. 

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16 ESV

When we’re walking around wounded, we can’t operate in the full capacity of life Jesus died to give us. We live in a world that allows us to justify every stupid mistake we make, instead of encouraging us to apologize, right the wrong, and try not to make the same mistake again. For the sake of comfort, we’ve become uncomfortable. We don’t know our full potential, because we’re too busy making excuses.

“Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” 2 Timothy 2:14 ESV

When the knobs and pulls are installed properly, we know unequivocally that Jesus is God. The One True God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Residing in every Christian believer. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is strength in Christ to persevere the pulling open and slamming shut without falling a part

The radical love of God is life-altering.

Happy Installing!

Megs 

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A Prayer for the Strength to be Joyful

“Be joyful always.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (GLT)

The Bible commands us to “be joyful always,”(1Thessalonians 5:16) but it takes strength to hold onto joy when life threatens to snatch it from our hands. How do we recognize a threat to our joy, employ a strategy to refute it, and come out stronger on the other side of it …still gripping our God-given joy?

The misconception of Biblical joy is that it feels like happiness. Even though “always”encompasses happy times and feelings of bliss, true Christian joy can endure through extreme hardship and pain. Happy feelings aren’t a requirement to be “cheerful no matter what,” as the Message paraphrase of 1 Thessalonians 5:16reads.

“Be full of joy all of the time,” the New Life Version translates. “Always be joyful,”reads the New Living Translation. “Celebrate always,” the VOICE paraphrases, and“Rejoice always,” the New International Version states. Joy is an emotion of great delight. Praise expresses approval. Worship regards something as sacred. Celebration makes something known! (dictionary.com) Where do we find the strength to rejoice in the middle of trials, frustrations, and heartbreak …sickness, death, and despair …loneliness, fatigue, and unfairness? The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible states that “rejoicing might be associated with praise.”

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The Super Strong Coffee (#jammed daily devo, day 82)

March #jammed: Grace Revealed.

Day 82: Stronger than we can handle.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 HCSBpost-image-82

Coffee and me have this thing. And it’s growing …stronger. The process is getting lengthier. The time invested is stretching. Flavor is expounding on my taste buds, and now it’s an experience. AKA, I’m a coffee snob, as my husband likes to put it.

Guilty. So snobbery when it comes to coffee. From throwing a cup in an pushing a lever to grinding my own beans every morning, the relationship with my morning cup of joe has become a bit of a fancy-pants habit.

The privilege I feel when I crack God’s Word open is akin to the same love …and abundantly more. As the days run on into more life lived, I no longer need a quick bit of wisdom to hold my sanity together as two crying babies pull on both pant legs. My Father and I are growing old together like a fine wine … or a snobbery cup of coffee. Well invested, minutes stretched.

“I invite you to drink deeply from the exceeding riches of My grace- My favor, mercy, and lovingkindness. It is a free gift that opens the way for you into eternity. It also provides what you need to live now, in this fractured world.” Sarah Young, Jesus Today

The second half of today’s verse states: “Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b

Jesus knew us before He accepted the cross. Every flaw and failure, but every smile and spark, too. Joy is in the journey with Jesus when we realize our weakness leads to growth. In the healing of our frailties, wisdom is produced. The ways of God are not our ways. He doesn’t always heal as we ask, He heals out of provision and love of a good, good Father. When we embrace our pain we acknowledge His sovereignty.

jammed-tweet-blueFather, Praise Your sovereign hand upon our lives. Thank You for loving us beyond what we are capable of understanding. Thank You for the simple joys in life like a good, snobbery cup of coffee. Forgive us for taking the little things, and giant pains, in this life for granted. Bless us and heal us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Coffee-drinking,

Megs

Get the #jammed Daily Devo sent straight to your inbox each morning, by subscribing to Sunny&80. 

The Strength to Be Joyful

The voice outside the door was pretty routine. I had tried to steal a moment away to go to the bathroom, and fooled myself into thinking that shutting the door would signal the little people in the house to allow me a moment of privacy. (Bah. Ha. Ha.) God’s sense of humor never ceases to amaze me, and the state in which He met me for this moment was right on cue.

The uncharacteristic hesitation in my daughter’s voice led me to ask if she was OK.  It hadn’t been the easiest year, and my heart broke right along with hers.  I had been covering her in prayer and God’s Truth. That day, my eyes glazed over as she peeked through a crack in that bathroom door to tell me what was weighing on her heart.

” I want to have Jesus in my heart,” my daughter whimpered, “it’s just too hard without Him.” 

“I need Jesus, Mommy.”  I excused myself to “wash my hands” and then witnessed my daughter handing her life over to Christ as we prayed together. It was a marking moment of pure joy, that sent my prayer life into overdrive on a completely new level. A heart surrendered to Jesus will most certainly face trials and challenges, and strength is what I pray for my girl as she faces the start of the next decade in-step with her Savior.

The Strength to Be Joyful.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy many be complete.” John 15:11 (NIV)

His strength enables my feet to keep trekking on. “Be joyful always,” ( 1 Thesalonians 5:16), is a lot easier to live out when things are sunny-side up. But when life becomes painful, hard, and unfair …lonely and badgered with doubt …it takes His strength to keep hiking through the snowy woods.

The Greek word for “joy” in  John 15:11 is chara,” which means “joy, gladness.” But underneath a part of the definition that says, “the cause or occasion of joy,” it’s defined a little further as, “of person’s who are one’s joy.”

When Jesus is our joy, it is complete. His joy becomes ours. He becomes our joy. The root word of chara is chairo, a primary Greek word that expands the meaning unto “to be well, thrive.” The strength to find Joy comes from Him.

The Strength to Surrender.

 The source of our strength isn’t something that we can grip, it’s a surrender to a source that flows through us.

Surrender means to yield the possession of power, to give oneself up, relinquish, abandon, or “to give oneself up to some influence, course, or emotion.” Jesus told his disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

“The branch must remain open to the flow of the vine’s life. If the branch were simply wound around the vine tightly, it would still die without producing any fruit.” Beth Moore, Portraits of Devotion, Day 216.

On whose accord to we lay down our lives for our friends if  we have not surrendered our own into His hands? Surrendering our self-centered disposition for a Christ-centered perspective takes Holy Spirit strength. A daily, soul-surrendering strengthening, from the vine.

The Strength to Obey

“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love.” John 15:10

Why is that so hard for humanity to accept that uninterrupted obedience is unattainable this side of heaven? Even before the constant clamor of criticism that bombards us through social streams, internal doubt has always threatened to disqualify us from the full and vibrant life Christ died to give us.

The same little voice that peeked into the bathroom weeks earlier, recently discovered that discipline remained a part of a Christ-committed life. Frustrated by her own disobedience, that sweet child asked me if He was even in there.

“Of course He is,” I reassured her, pointing to her heart,“He will never leave you.”

Christianity is a slow change, an individual walk. Yet, we compare our obedience to those around us and entertain benchmarks that may not be realistic for the current way-point of our hearts. Each day that we choose to walk with Jesus, we get a little stronger. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit provides us with the strength to obediently follow Him.

The Strength to be Imperfect

Lucky for me I grew up in the 90’s, or my struggle with perfectionism would have been glaringly obvious. Don’t mistake my life for a suffered one …I’m the same high energy crack-up that I’ve always been. I just don’t own a scale, talk about weight, or lose sleep over my reflection.  God convicted me of that negative thought cycle long ago, and I choose to obediently stop it. We will never lack strength to accomplish His will in our lives.

How easily our hearts can be led down a road full of absolute crap.

“It’s a lesson, not your life-story,” I assure my daughters when they make mistakes. “Everyone struggles with difficult choices.” 

How can we let our soul’s find their worth in a grade, paycheck, weight, good review, re-tweet, or accolade ? The strength to be imperfect comes from Christ. If we hold onto anything else but His validation, then we set ourselves up for a good crushing when the external feedback we receive inevitably fails us.

“There is no fear in love,” 1 John 4:18a says. Guilt and shame over the mistakes we have made in our lives does not come from God. Romans 3:10 states, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Jesus died so that we could live life to the full (John 10:10b).  He never said we had to be perfect.

The Strength to Construct Healthy Boundaries

“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hiding all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3 (NIV)

Paul was writing to the Colossians in combat of heresy (any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with establishedbeliefs, customs, etc.). The NIV Study Bible lists examples of ceremonialism, asceticism, worship of (or with) angels, devaluing the person and work of Christ, secret knowledge, and reliance on human wisdom and tradition. This was a no-brainer for Paul. He had witnessed Christ. There were no gray areas for him. He confidently exposed these false practices. 

How often do we take a look around our lives and gently rebuke and remove incorrect theology and religious practices? How often do we speak up and speak out about Christ when a worldly world-ism wafts across our eardrums? Paul was confident! He was strong enough to put up healthy boundaries as to what he was willing to absorb and entertain. We would be smart to focus on Christ the way Paul did.

It takes strength to walk away, kindly disagree, pray for an enemy, forgive and unfairness, process criticism with humility, or forgive ourselves for failure. “If you want to change, surround yourself with people that get it,” my pastor preached this past Sunday.

What if God asks us to obediently embrace a season of isolation as we tune into His voice above all others? The Book of 1 Kings tells how God prepared the prophet Elijah. Through my daily journey with First5, I learned that he obediently hid for three years, relying on ravens to bring Him meals twice a day. “But God wasn’t setting Elijah aside — He was setting Elijah apart.” Krista Williams, First5

Strong.

 “ Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.  Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV)

God has laid this lesson of strength upon my heart this year, and He continues to teach me how His strength lies behind our  joy, surrendering, obedience, imperfection, and construction of healthy boundaries. Listen, stay alert, stand tall in the faith, be courageous, and be strong.  Let love prevail in your life, words, and actions.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (VOICE) For Love to prevail in our lives, our connection to the Vine must be strong. We can accomplish this by training daily in study of His Word, and obediently following His lead for our lives. 

Happy Strength-training,

Megs

The Nylon Strings (#recall12, July)

Welcome to the #recall12 series, where we are memorizing a little bit of God’s great Word together each month! This month’s verse is:

“The Lord is my strength and my song.” Exodus 15:2

#recall12 July image 1

“TWANG-TWANG-TWANG-TWANG-TWANG….”

I’m enjoying this. I love to listen to her play. Don’t criticize her for playing. Think about something else….

In the beginning stages of my daughter’s love for her ukulele, there was a lot of inward coaching I had to do in order to let her discover her own sound. It was music to my ears to hear her musical genius uncle tell her that her instrument had nylon strings …and she was  going to knock them out of tune by banging on them so hard.

“But I just like to jam,” she argued.

“Well, you need metal strings if you want to jam like that …” he explained.

“TWANG-TWANG-TWANG-TWANG-TWANG….”She still wasn’t convinced.

“You heard what your uncle said,” I reminded, “if you snap a string on that uke because you’re stubborn, I’m not replacing it.”

Eye-roll …but compliance.

Oh, the sweet sound.

This month’s verse highlights the stubbornness of humanity …and God’s people. Fresh off a victory over Pharoh’s army and witness to them being swallowed by the Red Sea, there is abundant praise for God and His provision and protection.

“I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea. -Exodus 15:1

It’s on the heals of this that this months verse is bellowed for all to hold dear forevermore:

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.#recall12 July tweet 1
He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” -Exodus 15:2


How easy it is to give praise on top of the mountain of victory…
When the trumpets are blaring and the confetti is flying and the finish line tape rips across our chests and the publisher loves our idea and our children are successful ….

But it’s quite another thing to elevate our hearts to this level of praise before we witness the victory we seek. It’s not always going to look so big.

Sometimes, victory as we see it doesn’t come. God seems quiet. The nylon strings seem to be holding up just fine. So we jam on. Hard.

Until we snap.

That can look different for everyone. Temptation of all manner is waiting for opportunities like these. When we’re sitting in the pocket of victory,  we’re most likely to snap.

“The Lord is my strength and my song.” Exodus 15:2 #recall12 July Tweet 2

This month’s verse isn’t situational. Whether you are jamming on your nylon strings, staring at a snapped one, or have moved on to more durable metal strings …jam on. Because unlike an instrument, God’s song is not interrupted when we break. He doesn’t miss a beat. Whether we know it, see it, or hear Him  …He always hears …always cares …and always loves.

Our omnipotent God is unstoppable.

We are not Him, but we are made in His image.

“Music played a major role in the lives of people in biblical times. It was used in both sacred and secular activities and was most often associated with joy and celebration.”  Dictionary of Bible Themes

In Exodus 15:1-21, music celebrates victory.

victory-a success or triumph over an enemy in battle or war. -dictionary.com#recall12 July image 2

Victories are not exclusive to armies and athletics. They are the stuff of our Savior. Everyday miracles and tally-mark wins. Tempers calmed and callings chased. Jesus knows what it’s like to be human, and He knows that we are not capable of handling ourselves as He …the very Son of God and Spotless Lamb …did.

We’re incapable of carrying a tune without Armor. Hand Him what you can’t handle.

He is our strength.

We were never meant to be as strong as we try to be. We were created to lean in …to Him.

In the small victories and challenging moments of this month, let’s remember this verse …and sing a song … to our Strength.

#recall12 July image 3

Father, Praise You …for You alone are our Strength and our Shield. In times of trouble and in times of naivety, thank You for protecting and upholding us with Your just hand. We confess to snapping strings in the process of seeking our own method of progress. Forgive us, and send Your Spirit to bless us and fortify our hearts with Your Word and will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Happy Singing!

Megs

CLICK HERE OR ON THE IMAGE BELOW FOR FREE VERSE MEMORY CARDS.

#recall12 July memory cards

#recall12 July Verse Memory Cards PDF

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