“ But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23a (NLT)
One of my favorite childhood memories at Thanksgiving time was making construction paper pilgrim hats and Indian feather headdresses in school to dress up for our Thanksgiving feast. The best part of the day was seeing everyone gathered around the table full of delicious things to eat. This is still one of my highlights of the day, even if the stuffing comes from a box and the gravy from an envelope!
Thanksgiving has always been a time when people come together. I know for many this means a day of laughter and good times, but for others it can be a day of difficulty. The day may take extra patience and grace we feel we don’t have. This is when it’s good to know there’s always seconds available from the fruit bowl. Of course I’m not talking about apples and oranges, but the fruit of God’s Spirit in us. We can take a portion of His love, kindness and self-control for ourselves and then share it with those around us.
I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for you and the encouragement and inspiration you are to me. Thanks for joining me as together we allow God’s truth to change us and set us free.
“Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1 (NLT)
Many of us are thinking about what we’re thankful for this month, whether it’s listing something for each day, or just appreciating the beautiful fall colors and the abundance of pumpkin-flavored foods. Maybe you’re going deeper with thanks for God’s financial provision or the health you have. Regardless of what we’re thankful for, expressing our gratitude always does our hearts good.
What is it about gratitude that can change everything? For one, it helps us remember all that we’ve been given. We’re quickly distracted by what we don’t have, instead of valuing what we do. It also takes the focus off ourselves and puts it onto God, who provides all we have and more. I believe this is where the biggest impact is made. Isn’t it so easy for us to become self-centered and be consumed by our problems and greed? Through gratitude we remember what a loving, faithful God He is, who is good all the time and gives us all we need. (Matthew 6:33)
Need a change of heart? Join me in making a ‘gratitude adjustment’ and together we’ll experience the peace that comes from expressing our thanks to Him. (Philippians 4:6-7)
(I published this post a year ago and thought it a fitting reminder for us—I hope you enjoy!)
“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” Philippians 1:21 (NLT)
Autumn is here! The nights are cooling down (Where are my slippers?), the mornings are crisp (Need to grab my scarf!), and one of my favorite parts . . . the trees are starting to show their glorious fall colors. I took a trip to Oregon recently to visit my sister and enjoyed what is normally a scenic drive even more because of all the brightly colored trees along the way. God is an amazing Creator, isn’t He?
My sister mentioned how God brought something to mind as she noticed the fall colored leaves too. When the leaves change into their brilliant colors they are actually dying. They turn from green to reds to oranges to yellows, and then they die and fall off the tree. In the dying process the leaves are their most beautiful, and it is the same way with us spiritually.
When we die to self, or another way to say that is when we surrender our desires to God’s best for us, we become more beautiful. We do this by reflecting His likeness even more: by giving grace and patience to others more often, by choosing obedience when temptation comes, and by resting in His strength and peace no matter what we’re facing. By dying to our wants and giving Him control of our lives we are transformed into His likeness. He shines through us, and we truly are a more beautiful reflection of Him.
Take a look outside . . . do you see a tree changing colors? It’s leaves are dying, but it is beautiful. As we go into this fall season may those colorful leaves remind us that as we die to self we are becoming more beautiful. The most attractive people I know are those that shine God’s light and love to others. Let’s make it our prayer this week that there will be less of us and more of Him reflected in our lives each day.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)
God promised the impossible in Genesis 12. He promised Abraham and his wife Sarah a son, even though they were in their 60’s and 70’s. After waiting over 10 years for the fulfillment of God’s promise, they decided God must have been wrong, and took matters into their own hands. I’m sure you’re already guessing the outcome: not good! Sarah gave her servant to Abraham in marriage, who then bore Abraham a son. As you can imagine, the family dynamic took a turn for the worse afterwards. The result of their decision is still making an impact in the Middle East today. Then twenty-five years after His original promise, God gave Abraham and Sarah a son when they were both over 90, proving that all along He’d been able to accomplish the impossible.
Have you ever gotten tired of waiting on God and decided to take matters into your own hands? When God delays in fulfilling what He’s promised, sometimes we doubt in His ability to do it. We conclude that we’re going to have to figure out another way, and then experience the consequences of our inadequate efforts. Compared to His solution, ours will fall short every time.
God wants us to trust Him and wait on His perfect timing, no matter how long it takes. Sometimes we don’t understand why we have to wait—I’m sure Abraham and Sarah didn’t either. Let’s do our best to keep our eyes on Him, faithfully waiting for Him to give us “more than we might ask or think.”
“I am with you. I will watch over you everywhere you go . . . I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15 (NIV)
Have you ever driven through a thick fog? It’s a very eerie feeling. I can remember driving along the Columbia River Gorge on a foggy night. I could see lights far up the road, but couldn’t make out what they were from. Suddenly the fog shifted and I realized I was less than a yard away from the back of a semitrailer. I still remember the shock at how I had been unable to see what was right in front of me.
Many times in life we aren’t certain of what’s in front of us. We cannot see ahead. We don’t know the outcome or the solution. Last week I challenged us to take a step of faith, believing that we can put our hope and confidence in God. It’s much easier to do when we remember that even though we may not see what’s next, God does. He knows what will happen and when. If the God of the Universe knows, our Heavenly Father, then we can be at peace. We can sit back in His arms and rest, knowing He’s one step ahead of us. He will provide in perfect timing, or give us what we need to get through.
We can be certain of what we do not see because we can be certain of the One who does. Let’s remember Who our hope is in, and that He is with us, watching over us everywhere we go.
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)
So what has God been teaching you lately? Take a moment to answer that for yourself before reading on. I was asked this question yesterday and knew immediately what my answer was because I’ve been learning it the past six months. Yes, some of us are more thick-headed than others!
I’ve been learning a lesson in faith. God’s asking me to trust Him for something I feel is impossible. He’s calling me to have confidence and hope in Him for the outcome, and I am struggling to keep my faith in Him to do it.
How about you? Are you facing something in your life you don’t see the outcome of? Maybe it’s a chronic illness, financial difficulty or unexpected singleness? All these things and more can shake our faith in Him.
We need to remember faith begins with a single step. One day at a time, just like the Israelites when marching around Jericho, our responsibility is to take the next step God puts before us. It’s God’s responsibility, not ours, to make the impossible happen. He did this for the Israelites when the walls of Jericho came crashing down.
Want to take a step of faith with me today? Here’s what we can look forward to: “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
Remember summertime when you were growing up? There was nothing to do for three long months except run through the sprinklers, spit watermelon seeds and spend every waking minute outdoors enjoying the warmer weather. Where have the “good ole days” gone? I can’t believe it’s already July and I’m planning things in my September schedule.
When life starts sailing by I always want to stop the clock and make sure I’m still on track. If life is going to go fast, we want to make it count, right? We want to make sure that we’re still walking on God’s path for our lives, not our own or that of others. It’s good to check in just to make sure we haven’t wandered off His path by being unintentional about the choices we’re making in our lives. Are we keeping the main things the main thing? Are our priorities still what they should be?
We know the top two: our relationship with God and our family. After that it’s going to take some time spent with Him to find out what He wants us to be doing. There’s no better place than living in line with His plans for us, so let’s celebrate the next two months of summer by intentionally embracing all He wants to give us!