The Good Shepherd loves His sheep.
He tends, leads, guides, cherishes, feeds, and protects a flock. He’ll even lay down His life for their protection.
As Christians, Jesus is our Good Shepherd and He did more than just dying for us.
He set up a plan and purpose for each of us because He knows that there is an enemy that wants to take us out.
He knows this well because he tried to take HIM out!
The thief’s purpose is to seal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
– John 10:10 (NLT), emphasis added
His purpose is our good, it’s extraordinary! not for our harm.
I long to walk confidently in that. With that kind of purpose that He has for me, I want to learn how to walk in the fullness of that.
Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.
–1 Peter 2:25 (NLT), emphasis added
I was a young mom of 3 at the time and I bought several books, searching for answers about my purpose and not “losing myself” as an individual. Those books didn’t satisfy and I was asking more questions than I originally had!
I was introduced to God’s Word and Jesus; a true relationship with Him, and found that my individual-self wasn’t lost after all! I am both hidden and found in Christ. He became my identity.
For me, a rich and satisfying life meant walking in step with Him. Deepening my understanding of His ways through fellowship with Holy Spirit. Joyfully learning to live an obedient and holy life (James 1:22-25).
My question went from “How do I not lose myself?” to “How do I find myself (in Christ)?”; from “What am I doing with my life?” to “What does God want to do through my life?”
Asking that takes me on a daily journey. It has for many years.
I learn the purpose of the day.
It may lead to a vision of something long-term, but if it doesn’t, I know that I lived in the fullness of that day.
As you go through your day with Holy Spirit, can you purpose to pinpoint the purpose of that day?
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
For by it the men of old gained approval. Hebrews 11:1-2
Not all hope is created equal.
I’ve used a phrase or two that sounded like, “Oh, I hope that _____ happens.” or “It would be nice.”
Those phrases are wishful thinking, not true faith in action.
Bible hope should look like belief, not a wish.
That way of thinking was brought to light when something that I thought was a good idea to implement (wishful hope) needed to have some belief (Bible hope) put on it to see it come to pass.
Hope is expectancy. It’s what helps me in standing in faith.
Have you seen your child have that hopeful expectancy? They know without a doubt that what they’ve asked for is coming because you told them it would. They also know that you’re a trustworthy parent.
That’s the way that I always want to be when it comes to my relationship with Abba Father. Hopeful expectancy. Standing in faith. Belief without doubting.
Sometimes when I’d have hopeful expectancy about something I’ve requested, I’d hear a naysayer whisper, “Now, don’t get your hopes up, sweetheart.”
But as I thought about that statement, I asked, “Why not get my hopes up? Am I not expecting what I’ve requested?”
The Bible does say in Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
I think I’ll keep my hopes up, thank you.
Are you possibly in a place right now that you need help getting and keeping your hope up? Do you want to have hopeful expectancy?
I want to encourage you to go on a HOPE search. If your Bible has a concordance, that’s a wonderful place to start. There are also online aids like Bible Gateway, Blue Letter Bible, and Bible Hub. In addition, there is a fantastic 10 day devotional on the YouVersion Bible App or Bible.com by Christine Caine named “Staying Hopeful“.
I hope to hear from you! Let me know if any of these resources have been instrumental in helping you get your hopes up.
Sometimes the things that need to be forgiven aren’t the huge hurts and mess ups. Often, it’s the little things that happen quite by accident that most need forgiveness.
I’m pretty sure that the rules of our house concerning rough-housing and mindless clumsiness are similar to many other families. Even with that rule, among six children, it’s bound to be broken. And then, actual things are broken.
One particular day, a favorite figurine from a collection was knocked off of the shelf and broke into several pieces; hidden and pushed back into a cabinet. It was special because it was one of a husband and wife in a sweet embrace. I thought that it depicted the tenderness that we have in our marriage so well.
As much as I adored that figurine, I loved my child more. I love my child enough to not fly off in rage, and in the process destroying her over something that could easily be replaced.
Grace in that same way was extended to me when I was a child. I’ve had my fair share of knocking over that freshly poured glass of iced sweet tea, breaking one of my mom’s favorite trinkets, showing up late when I’d just promised to be on time, and especially deeper grace shown when I told my mom and dad of the results of sexual sin.
All of those things were a result of forgiveness looking like grace. I learned that my heavenly Father has the authority to forgive and forget all of the sins that I was guilty of when I turned to Him for that forgiveness.
He gently turns my face to a few of His words, the grace that poured over me when I read in John 8 of the woman caught in the act of adultery stood before Jesus and her accusers. After the call for her death and Jesus telling her accusers to throw the first stone if they, themselves, were without sin, Jesus asks the woman, “Where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” …”Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
God solidified my knowledge of when forgiveness looks like grace in 1 John 1:9,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgives us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God doesn’t hold a grudge against us! We’re His children and He’d rather us know Him as a grace giver. Are there consequences that come from sin? Many times, absolutely! But there’s still the grace given to come through them.
When there is an opportunity to extend grace, I hope to take it, because so much of what I’ve received forgiveness for was shown through grace.
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
“I pray like there’s a God in heaven who hears me when I pray and who answers me when I call on Him. You know why? Because there is a God in heaven who hears me when I pray and who answers me when I call on Him.”
-Susie Larson, Your Powerful Prayers
I want to gather with other believers whose prayers are building shaking prayers!
I call that the boldness of belief!
In these days when the gospel needs to be heralded like never before, timidity in prayer has no place.
I’ve actually heard women pray such prayers. The sounds of women, lifting up the name of Jesus, rang through the halls of our gathering place. My ears strained to hear them as I was trying not to be disrespectful to the teacher who was also bringing a good Bible lesson. I wanted so badly to join them, but was physically firmly planted.
What gave them that boldness and confidence?
What was it that gave them that Acts 4 authority?
It was the Holy Spirit, abiding in God, purity of heart, and community.
I’ve taken some cues from those women in my personal prayer time.
- It’s the privilege as God’s child to come my Father
- Be fully persuaded in God’s ability and willingness to hear my prayers
- Come with a clean heart
- Finding out the will of God by reading His Word
- Pray God’s word as prayers back to Him
- Stand in faith
- View God from His capabilities, not my limited understanding
- There’s freedom in releasing my concerns to God
- God is a big God
I believe that boldness in prayer comes with practice. The more we learn about the ways of God and the more we experience answered prayers, we develop the strength through faith.
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7
We can be bold in our prayers. We’ve been empowered by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but your received the Spirit of adoption y whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:14-16
Father, we pray for boldness to rise up in us when we pray. As we read about the Disciples in Acts and how their very prayers shook the building, may we yearn for that kind of influence in the world around us! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (HCSB)
None of us are immune to temptation. It comes at us any time it wants to.
Christian women are bombarded with temptation more often than we care to admit.
Temptation comes in all forms; food, drugs, drunkenness, sexual, rage & anger, discontentment, pride, bitterness, etc. I see it as anything that makes us lose control and sin in the involvement of it. It’s the thing that overrides our better judgement.
Even if we don’t give in, there’s usually shame and a feeling of worthlessness that comes with the thoughts. Please keep in mind, however, that temptation is not sin. Giving into temptation is when we miss the mark.
But when we look at 1 Corinthians 10:13, we see that there is an opportunity to turn away and flee from temptation. We get the chance every single time we feel like we’ll be overtaken.
You may be asking, “But what if I’ve already given into temptation? I feel stuck, guilty, and regretful.”
The first step to renewal and restoration is that you already acknowledged that there is an issue! Ask God for forgiveness. Repent.
You’ll always have a fighting chance. God has absolutely offered redemption and freedom through Jesus Christ. Do not walk around in condemnation, trust His provision.
Do not try to fight a battle without the proper equipment. I want to help you know how to become victorious.
You are not alone. These are weapons that I’m still learning to use also!
It’s time for some heavy lifting and faith muscle development.
Follow His Example
We can study how Jesus was tempted by satan, and how He did not give in to temptation in Luke 4:1-13. He is our perfect example!
Jesus is our compassionate High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses. See Hebrews 4:14-16.
Since we’re His followers, we can ask for guidance in how to walk that out in our overcoming. Now, let’s turn over to Romans 8.
We are given freedom from indwelling sin when we accepted Jesus as Lord of our lives. Sometimes that looks like daily de-throning ourselves (our flesh). It helps to write a portion of Romans 8 by hand as a prayer when we’re being tempted.
These next set of verses can easily be tucked into those, “yeah, I know that Scripture from memory, so I’ll just skim over them” verses. But, God’s Word can never be exhausted!
God has given us every provision for escaping temptation in Scripture, our relationship with Jesus, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
You’re Not Alone
If we’re willing to bring our battle with temptation to light, we can ask a trusted friend (that won’t sell us out) to come alongside and hold us accountable with encouragement, prayer, and standing in agreement with Scripture that we’ve been standing on.
There are times when counseling is needed. Seek out a godly counselor; one that will always point back to God’s word.
My friend, dealing with and banishing temptation probably won’t be a “one and done” encounter. On a daily basis, we lay down our lives, our own agendas, thoughts, and methods, for the life that Christ died for us. We accept His provision, His grace.
I pray that this is a good starting point for you. I strongly encourage you to bathe yourself in God’s Word. True freedom does come. Get in the face of Jesus, seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance and let’s start obliterating that temptation!
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength.
Perfect peace. Shalom, Shalom.
It’s the ultimate in peace because it comes from a place of trusting God.
The ONLY way this is possible is learning to obey Scripture.
Jesus talks so much about not being anxious, and for taking His light burden.
Get this revelation: Jesus gave us His very peace!
He says in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
I heard someone say once that if wasn’t possible for us to have, accept, or live in that kind of peace and not let our hearts be troubled, He wouldn’t have said it.
There may be times when it looks and feels like we can’t walk in the peace of trusting God, but it doesn’t mean we can’t.
That’s when it’s time to walk and talk by faith.
The greater One is in us and can take on the burdens, fear, and discouragement in our lives.
How do I enter into the rest of peace?
Here are four ways I practice peace:
Ask God for light on the situation. I ask God to show me exactly what is it that is making me lose my peace. Is it outward circumstances or inner turmoil?
Get peace-filled scripture passages into my heart. It helps to occupy my mind with the truth of God’s Word. There are many resources (online and in print) that will give a plethora of peace references.
Let peace be my umpire. And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds…. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always.] – Colossians 3:15, The Amplified Bible (emphasis added).
Journal. I’ve found that it helps me tremendously to write down what I feel the Holy Spirit has shown me. Sometimes it’s in a notebook, but often those thoughts end up beside a verse in my Bible so that I’m sure to be reminded of God’s faithfulness to me.
I’d like to know your thoughts and ways on the rest of peace. What gets you back to that peaceful place?
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
There was a very dark, cloudy season in our family’s life many years ago.
I wish that I could forget details, but it hasn’t been easy.
We had a neighbor that my family had become pretty close with, but knowing certain things about them, I still kept my family a little at arms length.
My suspicions came to full light, but by that time, there was much damage done.
I had a choice to make.
Do I wish evil, demise, and hardship on the family; you know, an eye-for-an-eye?
I owe them everything that they’d done to us.
Or I could do what was the Christ-follower thing to do; love, forgive, humble myself and go with His plans.
I owe them forgiveness.
There were several soul and heart searching days that went by.
I wrestled with God for leeway and a pass, knowing all along that love is what I owed.
Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6
I had to stand on God’s word in this because my heart was screaming something totally different.
I began to come around to humbling under God’s mighty hand. It was through Him that we’d be cared for. My way of doing things and potentially plotting would have backfired as soon as I put plans in motion.
With stepping back, I was able to see where the breakdown was.
First, I didn’t follow the Holy Spirit’s initial warnings. It’s so important to heed those “tuggings” and uneasy feelings.
I gave access to things that shouldn’t have been given access to.
Second, those friends needed prayer and mercy, not God’s wrath.
I believe that our not retaliating spoke volumes of our faith and Christian walk.
As my heart softened, Romans 12:9-21 became easier to pray over the situation.
Like verse 18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
We were able to live in peace with our neighbor.
Is there anything that you need to put into God’s hand; to do as 1 Peter 5:6 urges us to do? God is standing ready for us to come humbly to Him and to take the care.
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
– Luke 19:10
Jesus came searching for me!
Jesus came to save me!
It was part of His plan when He chose redemption for the world.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
– Romans 5:8
Love was written all over our Savior’s heart.
His compassion is unmatched.
Jesus did the ultimate in pouring out; He gave it all.
This is the kind of love, compassion and sacrifice that I want to make sure my children place their faith in. This requires me to talk about my faith in God, believing who Jesus says He is, and how the Holy Spirit is our Helper and Counselor.
Our children are very receptive, and I’ve found that they develop an appetite for Jesus when we present the truth to them. When I live my faith for my children to see, they develop a yearning to know the Lord. They see our faith in action; how well we trust God. Once they develop a relationship with Jesus, they have just as much right to Him as we do as their parents. THAT is a great relief. All of the burden isn’t on us to be their El Shaddai.
The Holy Spirit Will Guide Them
Now, our children still need earthly parenting. We must never be hands-off with that. But just think of the dynamic partnership that we’ll have with them and God.
When solving an issue with a child, I’m learning to incorporate this phrase, “What does God’s Word have to say about this?”
It’s God that brings the solutions. They see it for themselves, and it bolsters their faith.
Whenever we’ve needed to believe God for a prayer to be answered, it’s God’s word again to the rescue. We find a Scripture promise that supports what we’ve prayed for (this is praying God’s will). When the answer comes, the children get to rejoice because they experience it first hand. It bolsters their faith. This also aids in long-term remembrance of how God answered them.
I’ve even seen this carry over into a married adult child’s life. She recalled the times that God answered our prayers of faith when she was younger which gave her a foundation for how she needed to presently pray for herself.
Mom, we won’t always bat 1,000, but we’ll hit some when we swing. I learned that I couldn’t leave their faith up to chance. It made me more aware of my own faith in Jesus, and what I truly believed about Him. When I live my faith I gain experiential knowledge that carries our family closer to God.
We can start today by asking God to bolster (support, strengthen, prop up) our own faith so that we can continue to lead our children in faith.
You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 1 Peter 1:8 (NLT)
What comes to mind when you read that verse?
Does it seem that rejoicing with a glorious, inexpressible joy is a lofty goal at times?
When we don’t think that God sees, hears, or knows the true emotions we’re feeling, that kind of extravagant joy escapes us.
In light of that Scripture, I’d say that the “burden” of glorious, inexpressible joy is a lack of trusting Him.
Inexpressible joy doesn’t have to elusive. It’s a part of our inheritance that comes along with our salvation. Joy is deposited down in us with all of the other fruit, just waiting to be nourished and exercised.
As a mom, we see joy beaming from our children when they are ecstatic. It gives them so much energy that they can’t contain themselves and most times can’t get words out! THAT is inexpressible joy! It comes from a place of trusting the giver of that joy.
We can get back to that place!
- Look up Scripture that will strengthen the heart. Often when we can’t find the joy it’s because our hearts need to be strengthened. A renewed joy is what we need.
A great place to start is Psalm 31:24: Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
- Think about what we’re thinking about. There are times when we can let our thoughts get the upper hand in how we feel and how we perceive things. Think on what is true (Philippians 4:8-9).
- Rejoice with someone else! Whether it’s our own child, a significant other, friend, or even a complete stranger, we can be recipients and a sharer in their inexpressible joy. Rejoice with those who rejoice…(Romans 12:15a).
- Practice thanksgiving. Psalm 100 is great Scripture to declare out loud! Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise (Ps. 100:4).
Let’s reflect on the goodness of God. Let inexpressible joy well up in us as we come alive with prayer, Scripture, and thanksgiving flowing from our lips.
Life doesn’t have to be perfect to love it. Let’s take a look at what a loved life actually looks like.
This isn’t really about “self-love” as something spooky or weird. It’s about being content and settled with your current season. As I mature, I’m learning that I see life as my “who” and not my “do”.
I like to take inventory of what’s most important to me. I easily do this with my social media bios. Don’t laugh! You have your things listed too!
Wander over to your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter profiles. What do you have listed? Could you say that those are the things, the ones that speak of the things you love?
Learning to love my life takes practice.
I didn’t even wake up one day and decide that I needed to. I felt that I was okay with doing life as “business as usual”, loving on everyone else, but I began to see that I didn’t see myself as an approved child of God.
I found that I needed to know something more, something deeper. I wanted to know my Father’s love so much that I went the to depths of that part of the heart that said, “Your Abba loves you to your core and you should spend your lifetime pressing into that.”
Can you feel the burn of passion of a life well loved?
Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children.
– 1 John 3:1
My children have my love and they don’t question that. I should give my heavenly Father the same ready acceptance. It came down to not trusting His love.
I wasn’t living as if I knew His love.
I was quick to believe a lie of not being good, clean, righteous, or holy enough. But the Holy Spirit opened the door to my remembrance of the day I didn’t find shame in saying “absolutely YES” to the love of God through Jesus. On THAT day I became good, clean, righteous, and holy.
I am covered by the blood of Jesus! Ephesians 2:13
It took me many years of not “getting it”. It didn’t click until recently that I am wholly love and that I can live like it because I am being renewed in the spirit of my mind (Ephesians 4:23-24).
I can live a loved life
I could inform my heart that it can now overflow from that knowledge. I can love my life now because there are no chains on my understanding.
There are lyrics to a song by Hawk Nelson that I heard recently that brought clearer revelation to living like I know I’m loved by God. “So go ahead and live like you’re loved. It’s ok to act like you’ve been set free. His love has made you more than enough. So go ahead and be who He made you to be.”
I’m still learning what that looks like on a daily basis, but I can tell you that I’ve found such fresh and sweet freedom that I’ll never look back.
I pray that this has sparked your journey to knowing the truth of God’s approval and love for you, and that you can live like you’re loved,because you are!