God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn

Today’s truth is abundant with love and possibly a great deal of frustration.

I ask myself how the two can co-exist in a sane person, but any parent knows the answer. We love our children so much we would protect them at all costs, but when they won’t go to bed or stop screaming or just get their socks and shoes on, frustration lives with and maybe equals the love we feel.

… Maybe that’s just me. And it’s been a long time since someone accused me of sanity.

Managers, supervisors, caretakers, and anyone else in a position of authority can also understand the pride and frustration that come with grooming someone, taking care of them, teaching them, investing in them, and then watching them wilt away. Not using their training or their gifts. Not responding to encouragement or direction. I wonder if God feels that way sometimes as He watches us.

Romans 11:29 says God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn. Part of me is comforted by this truth. It means I can’t ruin what He’s called me to do. I can’t fail if I trust Him and follow Him. Another part of me is frustrated by this refusal to let me off the hook.

What if I can’t do it? What if I don’t want to do it? What if I do it badly? Surely there is someone else on the face of this earth who is more capable and better equipped. Ultimately, every argument stems from fear. I have to ask myself – again – if I want to live in fear or live in faith.

God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.

So I confess my fear and my reluctance, and I ask Him to empower me. I plead for courage and His Spirit to guide me and speak through me. As I move forward, I realize the truth. God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn. And I’m grateful that He was faithful and wouldn’t let me off the hook.

What are your God-given gifts?

I trust you, O Lord

Today is my biggest little’s birthday. It’s a bittersweet day for me because I remember life before he came to us, and I remember his birth, and I remember too easily the jumble of my mind in the months that followed.

My kids are three of God’s greatest gifts in my life. They shower me with His love and devotion and they give me a reason to press through difficulties. Their smiles and laughter make even the greyest day brighter. While this has been true since I first held them, the months immediately after they were born defy words.

Excruciating. Confusing. Intense fatigue. And fear like I’ve never known. What if something happens to them? What if something happens to ME? Who will take care of them? Will they know and love Jesus? A thousand other terrifying scenarios played through my head every day. Not one of them could I foresee, prevent, or control. It became – and to this day remains – an issue of my trust in God.

As I remember my first days of motherhood, fear tries to wrap itself around my heart and head again. Back then I couldn’t even see clearly enough to turn to the Bible for perspective and truth. But today I can. Psalm 31:14 says, “But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying “You are my God!” And a confession of truth changes the fear in my heart to faith.

I trust you, O Lord.

It takes conscious effort to trust God sometimes. Obedience to willfully turn from what I fear and choose to believe He will take care of my family with love and kindness. But we must turn from what is slowly killing us and embrace the One who loves us.

My prayer is that I gift my children with faith in the living God, that I teach them to turn from fear and embrace Him. It is the best gift I can imagine giving them.

What do you fear? Do you trust God in the midst of it?

 

God is the lifter of my head

Ever hung a millstone or a yoke around your neck? Not likely on purpose. Neither have I, but life throws upheaval that catches us around the shoulders, slinging weights and mimicking a millstone or yoke. Job loss, health concerns, relationship strains, family responsibility, bills, hunger. There are so many ways to experience the pressure and weight of a situation.

One of my spiritual gifts is compassion, which means I often feel what another person is going through. That millstone becomes a physical disturbance:

It’s painful beyond description. My back and my neck ache all the way to the bone. My shoulders curl and threaten to crumple under the pressure. My head throbs, my eyes bulge, my chest heaves. Nausea roils my stomach. Before long, my nose and forehead scrape the rough wooden planks of the floor beneath me. Emotionally, my heart caves. My thoughts are dark and relentless. There is no way out. No light. No air. I can’t breathe. Hot tears burn my eyes and my throat closes.

It takes everything I have to remember the truth. I confess it out loud, over and over, until it seeps in and becomes real. “But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.” (Psalm 3:3)

And then Someone lifts the millstone. He anchors me, straightening my back, shoulders, neck. He wipes the tears from my cheeks. With His gentle and insistent touch, I stand. His fingers tip my chin, lifting my head. Bright light shines, sweet air fills my lungs, and I see the way out.

God is the lifter of my head.

Whatever weight is hanging around your neck like a millstone, remember the Lifter of your head. Take a few minutes to turn it all over to Him. Ask Him to take the burden and help you stand. And when the burden threatens to come back, repeat the truth.

Speak up! Does it lighten your load to know that God lifts your head?

I have peace at all times and in every situation

Today’s confession can be a challenge, and it’s sure to be necessary at some point for some reason every day for the rest of the year.

Thanksgiving week is at our doorsteps – and immediately after that will be the Christmas season. Whether you celebrate these holidays with the rest of the country or choose to recognize the purpose of the holidays in another way, the busy-ness of the season is undeniable. It’s easy to overlook the brightness, the hope, and the joy. Let’s be honest, celebrating abundance and the birth of our Savior can be stressful.

No matter how you celebrate, take time today to stop the busy-ness and reflect on the person of Jesus Christ. And let today’s confession move your spirit to places of rest, trust, and peace. As 2 Thessalonians 3:16 says, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation.” Not to be simplistic, but it can be as easy as believing it and accepting it. Repeatedly. Accept it over and over, every time you feel it slipping away, confess it again.

I have peace at all times and in every situation.

His peace surpasses understanding, so when the noise around you is deafening and the chores seem insurmountable you can calm the storm within and truly give thanks for the gift of Him.

Do you celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas? What are the sources of stress you face?

Jesus’ gift to me is peace of mind and heart

I admit it: I love gifts. A perfectly wrapped package with a pretty little bow on top makes my day. Wrap it in the funny papers, and it makes my day. Wrap it in foil. Whatever. And fill it with anything (chocolate and stationery products earn extra points), and I’ll be happy. The point is the joy of receiving a gift that someone thought would please me.

All that aside, the best gift I’ve ever received had no wrapping. It’s the gift that will continue giving until long after I’m dead, and I pray to pass this one along to as many people as I can reach. Jesus gave me the gift of grace, mercy, salvation, and eternal life with Him. Now that’s something Someone thought would please me.

It’s just like our God to be abundant with His gifts (we’ll talk more about abundance later) and this is no exception. He didn’t stop with grace, mercy, and salvation. He wrapped up the gift of peace and placed it straight into your heart.

Today’s confession isn’t one we can pretty up and place in someone’s outstretched hand. It’s as pretty as it could ever be, and it’s not ours to give. But we can speak it into our lives and pray it into the lives of others. Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 15:27

Jesus’ gift to me is peace of mind and heart.

I confess it today. Will you?

With God all things are possible

Pop quiz: When was the last time you used the word ‘impossible’? As in, “That’s impossible.” or “I’m impossible.”

For me, it’s almost a daily challenge to ban that word from my thinking. For one thing, I’m, er… slightly melodramatic. I think we’ve established that fact. I tend to over-exaggerate. (Are you proud of me? I totally avoided – like TOTALLY avoided – melodrama and exaggeration there. I’m never going to exaggerate AGAIN!)

For another thing, I like to use dry wit at my own expense. I roll my eyes and say, “I’m so impossible.” Or I look at my goals and think, “Yeah. Right. IM-possible.”

Today’s affirmation directly contradicts that thinking. I want you to look in the mirror this morning and say these words out loud, believing them, believing in the power of God. This is not about your own superior ability to do all things. It’s not about your super-human efforts. It’s not about you. This is about God, about His love for you, and about His power to do ALL things. (And that is not an exaggeration, my friends. That is Truth. See for yourselves.)

Confession: Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17

With men, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:36

It stands to reason, then, that with God all GOOD things are possible. Want to make this affirmation more personal? Do it. “Every good and every perfect gift in my life is from God, with whom all good things are possible.” And name your gifts. Your spouse? Your children? The ability to pay all your bills – and still have enough to get a coffee or a special treat – in this time of economic uncertainty? How about friends that keep your chin up? Your health? Even pets can be gifts from God. Don’t forget those gifts that enrich others’ lives. Wisdom, joy, peace. Yes, all the gifts of the Spirit are included here. Look for them, too!

Go into the world today knowing that every good and perfect gift is from God and that He loves you so much, He wants to do impossible things in your life!

What impossible thing are you asking Him for today?