the magnetic pull of focus

One day spent in Your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches. I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin. Psalm 84:10 MSG

I love to worship. It is the one thing I like best after spending time in His Presence, and diving into the Word.

When I get really busy, I tend to rush through my day beginning with a quick devotional instead an unrushed time at His feet, focusing solely on Him.

This quick fix mentality opens me up to selfishness, hurry, and distraction. Spend too long with that crew, and the enemy begins to make his play.

When sin comes knocking, sometimes what looks good in the moment can appear better than what we know to be true. For the enemy was an angel of light, and very beautiful in the eye of the beholder. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15)

However, beauty is only skin deep, and the truth about all things will be revealed the more time we invest in it. A handsome man or gorgeous woman isn’t always so lovely once you get to know them when their personality becomes revealed.

Sin is the same.

Just because it looks good, doesn’t mean it is good.

If it sounds too good to be true, it may just be a lie.

Only God IS good, and so are His ways.

Nothing can ever beats being His, and being with Him.

●How we live magnifies our priorities.

●What we love reveals the desires of our hearts.

●What we focus on attracts more of the same….

If we zoom in on our lack or selfish desires, our mood will become increasingly dissatisfied and depressed. If we seek Him first and His Kingdom, its standards will be reflected within us.

What most appeals to His Beloved should be the things which most appeal to Him: community, truth, holiness, being with the one you love.

Lord, may we choose to regularly worship You, and keep our gaze focused on what is good, true, wholesome and pure. (Philippians 4:8) Be the fixed point of our devotion, and ever clarify our focus so we can see you better. Let Your character magnify our vision, and replicate itself within us.

May the gift of Presence be the one we unwrap the most, and may our heart align up with Your passions the more we spend time with You, and focus on what will last a lifetime instead of a fleeting moment.

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in His Presence

Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, He’ll calm you with His love and delight you with His songs. Zephaniah 3:17 MSG

I have a confession to make.

This verse is one of my favorite verses in the Old Testament.  In the passage of Zephaniah 3, God is reminding His people that He is with them, and restoration is coming.

Because of who He is.

Present with us.
Mighty to save us.
Ready for battle.

But He doesn’t just remind us of His physical presence in this verse, for He is not a two dimensional God.  He is whole, and how He describes Himself is alive and ever for His Beloved.

God reassures us of His devotion for us, His people, through Zephaniah’s writings.

●Thrilled we have returned to Him
●Calming our worries and anxieties with His love
●Delighting us with His songs

God not only protects those who come under the shadow of His wing, He loves up on us!  He keeps us calm! And to top it off, God HIMSELF sings to us for OUR delight!

If you have forgotten how wonderful our God is, in all the many ways He chooses to be there for us, invite Him to remind you as you return to the safety of His embrace.  Let Him love up on you when you are with Him, in His Presence.

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lasting hope

I am hardwired to be optimistic.

It takes a lot to get me down… usually a combination of illness/injury, eating poorly & not sleeping enough.

But like you, every day something tries to undermine my hope:

I am married to a wonderful man, who tends to be more of an Eeyore in nature, mostly due to his having seen so much in his nursing career over the last two decades.

I have had random twitches joint pain which has still not been diagnosed, leaving me exhausted some nights, and make it hard to fall asleep on others.

I too have had unexpected expenses pop up.

The loss of a loved one.

The dishwasher conking out when it was full.

My order not show up.

Not enough work.

Too much work.

Our complaint lists can keep going and going like the Energizer bunny, if we keep feeding them.

I choose to feed my hope.

Not on fluffy catchy feel better quotes.

Not on physical food or drink.

With the hope that lasts…

God given hope which rests on Him as its sole source.

In a world seeking bargains and making our lives as ease filled as possible, it dumbfounds me to see people spend millions on make it all better in 10 day programs.

If it didn’t take 10 days to get there, it isn’t going to take 10 days to get back out….just saying.

Since my life has had a lot of knocks, whacks and pitfalls, I need a source of Hope that can take all the concerns and worries I have, and then some, for days to come, for the rest of my life.

God is my choice.

He even paid the cost, fellow bargain hunters, so we can come to Him without barrier.

He even invites us to come and find rest in the shelter He has to offer:

He himself is our peace (Eph 2:14)

Come to me,all who are weary and heavy laden (burdened) and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“Because he loves Me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name.
He will call on Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
 and show him my salvation.”
(Psalm 91:14-16).

God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!”
(Jeremiah 31:3a)

This is just a glimpse of the treasured promises from God for you.

He knows you.

Despite anything you may have done or will ever do, He loves you dearly.

He made a way for you to come home and be with Him, your heavenly Father.

Jesus calls you sibling, friend, chosen, apple of His eye.

Holy Spirit is within you to guide you, help you in any way you need Him to.

God with us.

That is where I place my hope.
Not on shifting trends, things that pass away and don’t last.
On the foundation of Hope my God has laid down for me.

All my hope is in Him.

The path of hope is waiting for you as well.

Its a journey unlike no other, but with Him leading you, you will always have reason to be thankful, give praise and hope.

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(Repost from Sept 17, 2014 as I am out & about getting ready to celebrate one of my babies’ birthday today, and this is one of my fave posts!)

pressing in for connection

Until you commit to the goal of connection, all the relational tools in the world are not going to help you. It’s only when you decide to take responsibility to pursue connection that you will discover just why you need these tools. It’s only when you commit to moving toward someone that you will seek the knowledge and skills necessary to reach them. – Danny Silk, Keep Your Love On

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It’s only in the choosing that our pursuit ignites with purpose.

If you encountered someone who was deaf, and you wanted to communicate with them, you would seek out sign language to help you do so. If they were blind, you might learn to write them a letter in braille, or add more descriptive words to your dialogue.

When we choose to love someone, we decide to study them and find out what they love, then discover how we can best offer them our love.

And we can only do so when we chose to do so whole heartedly.

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Jeremiah 29:13 reminds us that God promises those who chose to wholeheartedly seek Him will find Him.

When we are intent on learning more about the ones we love, we will discover who they are.

And when we discover who they are, we are able to love them more deeply and whole heartedly in response.

It all begins with our choice.

Will we press in for deeper connection, or settle for surface level fluff?

Like cotton candy, which tastes good going down but doesn’t satisfy your hunger, surface loving never satisfies our deeper longing to connect with one another.

Because God ultimately hardwired us to connect with Him, and to one another.

I have decided to throw off my usually cover of restraint and purposely chase after God with all I am and have.

And I am choosing to do the same in all my relationships.

With God as the primary lover of my soul, and His guidance, I will discover how to love more, deeper, stronger and better.

For when Love Himself is your pursuit, and promises to be found by all who purpose to seek after Him?

With Him, I can love as He intends. With all my heart, for His glory and his honour, to better His Kingdom. Loving those about me as He has designed them to want to be loved, and as His love overflows through me to and for them.

the gifts along the path

I wanted the gift of the shortest and easiest path. Instead, He gave me the gift of holding me close and strengthening me for the hard path. It took me a long time to understand that both were gifts. And as I embraced the second, my need for the first lost its tormenting grip.

– Sharon Hinck, the Deliverer
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When I am fearful, worried or anxious, I have a tendency to want an instant fix to the problem facing me.

As much as God loves me, He doesn’t always answer my prayers the way I wish He would.

I can only see the wisdom in His ways with the hindsight which comes from the passing of time.

Over the past five years, our family has had more come at it than I could have imagined as a writer.

And my walk is stronger and my faith the deeper for it, which I can now see.

Because the only thing that matters on the paths He has for us?

The company we keep, and who keeps us in their company.

If all you can focus on in the swirl of emotions and stresses in the moments is the difficulties ahead, you send out the signal that you are a victim.

Which is where the enemy wants you to stay: Frozen with fear or indecision, so you don’t move anywhere.

When we forget who wants to be with us, we lock ourselves on the path we create, instead of reaching for the hand of the One who wants to guide us on His pathways through the hard times.

But when we take His hand, keeping our eyes fixed on His loving gaze, He can leads us deeper into His ways, as He embraces us with His Presence and purpose.

For even though we may be scared or unsure of what is ahead, God isn’t.

For God is the wisest of all, more loving than imaginable, and knows He plans He has for us.

And He wants to walk with you, right beside you, speaking to you through His Word and Holy Spirit, and show you the way for you to go.

If you are unsure of what may be ahead, you can rest assured:

God is for you.

There are blessings ahead beyond what you could grasp know or imagine.

God is with you.

He will never not be with you, Beloved. He is always with the ones He adores.

God is waiting for you.

In every high or low, He is waiting for your invitation, for you to ask Him in, in all His fullness.

God delights in you.

As a writer, painter, musician or artist pours his/herself into what they create, so did God when He made you in His image.

And He likes whom He made. In fact, He absolutely adores you, and has nothing but His best to offer you. He proved it on the cross.

God is the best companion you could ever have as you journey through this life. He Himself is the gift we can discover along the way!

May you remember that nothing is too big or too small to remind Him about, for He already sees it all.

He is one prayer, one conversation away.

Allow Him to light the way as you hold His hand on your path.

He hears…

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Crushed.

You let someone down, failed to meet that deadline, were passed over for the position or promotion, lost your one person whose love made your heart soar.

What crushes one heart may vastly vary from another, but we each can be crushed when the weight of loss or our choices come crashing down upon us.

And when we are crushed, we can forget we are not alone there.

No one else on earth may fully comprehend what you are going through. No two of us are exactly identical through and through, as we have each been made unique.

We might resemble another on the outside, yet our experiences, emotions and energies can set us apart in an instant.

There is One who hears what we may not be able to form into words in the moment our spirits are crushed.

For He doesn’t need our spoken words to know what’s on our hearts.

God can hear your heartsong whether you speak it out or keep it unspoken.

He hears your cry as you emit your brokenness, in the very moment your spirit screams in pain.

For crushing is painful.

But nothing is lost in His plans or purposes for us. Not even our crushing.

God knows the plans He has for us, and they are good. For our good, from our good, good Father, who has our best in mind.

He knew the crushing would come, so He knows how to comfort and restore us once it has.

If like me, you feel crushed today, may you hear the truth of His promises to you:

He is always with you.

He not only loves you but adores you.

He knows everything about you, as only a Maker can.

He sees all that happens to you, and cares so much about your pain that He keeps eveything tear you cry.

He hears all, spoken and unspoken, and is always listening for you. He loves to hear from you.

God will never stop coming to your rescue. He may have eternally saved us once and for all, but the Word is filled with His love in action as He continually comes for those He loves. To protect, to heal, to rebuild, to make new, to give hope, to guide.

Today, draw near to Him just as you are. Crushed, broken, needy, unlovely, worried, anxious or fearful.

He promises to meet us where we are, and never leave us there alone.

Our spirits may be crushed in the now, but I keep pressing forward into His embrace.

For I know the only way I was meant to fly is when He lifts me up and breathe new life into this form once again.

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This post was shared at “A Grateful Heart” link up today: http://embergrey.com/epic-weekends/ #agratefulheart

resting securely on His shoulders

Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders. Deuteronomy 33:12

Today did not start well.

I awoke congested and feeling like I had not slept at all. I began work to find a serious glitch has occurs with one of the main programs I use daily. Hubby may be having a long term IV put in today and my eldest is recovering from an allergic reaction to a new food source. My son is feeling bad for accidentally sitting on my laptop and cracking the screen.

In short, a day most of us would prefer to stay in bed or have a restart button to push for a skip over.

Last night, I was reminded of this verse above.

And it struck me after worship time this morning that God gave me that verse last night to remind me of the following truths:

1. I am His Beloved.
No matter how I feel, God pursued and wooed me.

2. He is always shielding me.
Always. Just because I can’t see Him or His angels doing so, doesn’t change this truth!

3. GOD loves me.
Even when I am cranky, miserable, acting sinfully and unlovely, I am the one He loves!

4. He is my source of rest.
No matter what is happening, or what I am facing.

5. He is carrying me close.
I am resting on His shoulders. And in order to stay there…

6. He is holding on to me.
He never lets us go, those whom He loves. He has me safely in His grip.

7. God is leading the way as I rest on Him.
I can place my hope that I am headed in the right direction when He is guiding my every step.

If you too needed to be reminded of these truths, join me in praying for a stronger sense of His Presence to rest upon you today, as we learn to rest on His shoulders.
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in His strength

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Last night, I stepped out of my comfort zone and took part in a 12 hour worship burn…where we offered God praise and worship for 12 hours straight. Six teams, 2 hours each.

As a vocalist, usually two hours is a good maximum for keeping your voice strong without too much strain.

I had the beginnings of a cold when I woke up on Friday morning.

And was signed up to sing for 2 two hour time slots, 2 hours apart, in the wee hours of the morning (1-3 am) and when I am usually getting up (5-7 am).

I prayed and asked Him if I should cut back, and the following familiar verse came to mind:

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

So I didn’t, and I prepared for two sets.  From the time I arrived, I stayed away from caffeine and sweets, drank about 8-10 glasses of water, rested my voice way more than I usually would, and only had the two things to help keep my throat moist besides water, shot glasses of pineapple juice and a few potato chips (the chips are apparently Amy Grant’s go to before a performance too).

And more than all that, I had to depend on Him in a way I normally never ask for help in.

An early riser, I am usually down for the count by 10 pm.

Last night, I didn’t get any sleep, nor did I sense God wanted me to.  I had a strong reassurance I would be able to make it through without sleep, and without losing my voice or incurring too much strain.  Since I am also singing Sunday morning, this was quite a bit outside my comfort zone.

I chose to trust He had me in His grip, and would get me through.

When I got to work this morning, I happened to look up the verse to double check it was the verse I remembered. I was stunned to see what Philippians 4:13 says in the Message translation:

 

Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

I stepped out, and God stepped up to meet me there. I am still stunned with the wonder that I have now been up for 29 hours straight, and do not feel as exhausted as I would have expected.

God took me in His strength beyond what I am capable of in my own strength, and then beyond even more!

When we step out and trust He is more than enough for all we will encounter and endure, our trust is not placed in vain.

If the Maker of the universe made me, He knows what I am capable of, both on my own and with His empowerment.

I can place myself with confidence in His care.

When I expectantly come close into His Presence, He never fails to meet me in each instance.

I am able to do far more than I realize when God holds me together and strengthens me.

Which He does because of:

  • His great love for me
  • His character – God of compassion, refuge, power, might. Its part of who He is
  • His desire to draw close to be with His Beloved
  • the truth that I now live in and within Him, so His strength is an overflow of His loving kindness

and not the least, due to

  • His acute awareness of how much I need Him!

 

One

We are made One in Him.
He takes us from every background imaginable and make us His sons and daughters,  all of us.

We become His family.

One family.

And as family, we are meant to gather together as we pursue Him, the focus of our passion.

United.

One pursuit.
One passion.
One purpose.

To know Him more.
Become more His.
To share the good news that we are never alone.

It only took One to bring us back from the outskirts and plant us firmly in the circle of His affection.

Jesus.

One love.
Which spanned the heights of heavens and the depths of despair to free us from the enemy of the One. 

Release the snares of our wrongdoings,  and ushers us into His embrace and family.

One things alone remains forever.

His love for you and I.

Wavering because you don’t yet know what he has called you to do?

Your purpose is clear.
Pursue Him.

Our primary purpose for being on this earth is to know our Maker, and be known by Him:
To worship Him for who He is.
To wonder at what He has done.
To walk where he leads.
To welcome Home the lost.
To work for His glory….
To let His Words come to live within us.
To listen as He speaks.
To love that He loves.
To never lack in companionship.
To learn at His feet.
To laugh at the wonders He displays.

Join me as together we celebrate the One, and become the Beloved He is creating for himself.

One bride, longing for her Love.
Pursuing Him with all she is and has.

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meet with Me

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Come,
the invitation reads.
Meet with Me,
the Spirit whispers.

Today is unmarked
brand new, teeming with possibility
like the freshly fallen snow
and I want to guide you through it
Not from afar
but closely beside You

I love to listen to the sound of your voice
the rhythm of your heartbeat
as you begin to slow down
and align with my heartbeat
as you draw near

Meet with Me
has been my invitation
since the Garden
I have made it over
and over ever since
through the Word
through My prophets
through My priests
through My followers
through My Son
through My Spirit

Come to Me

I invited you
face to face
when I walked among you

Come as you are

It doesn’t matter to Mewhere you’ve been
My arms are always open wide
My love ready to pour over all your wounds
My touch ready to soothe all your hurts
My blood ready to cover all your sin

My Presence is always ready to walk with you
through all your wins and losses
hurts and healings
storms and deserts
sorrows and joys

I wait here
to meet with You

Won’t you come
and meet with Me?

#crytotheBeloved