No Matter the Cost

I started a new book last night, “Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe” by Tom Doyle. Yes… The title is shocking… But I’m convinced we need to know what it means to persevere in faith. To love Jesus with full abandon NO.MATTER.THE.COST.

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Wow.

One of the most interesting facts that I’m learning from reading books like this, is where Christians are being persecuted for their faith – Christianity is spreading and thriving!

In places like the United States, where we have every freedom in the world, and virtually no persecution for our faith, (have you ever been persecuted for your faith in Jesus? I haven’t.) the spread of Christianity in the U.S. has plateaued at best.

What’s wrong with this picture?

One true story in this book recounts a Syrian Believer who along with several other Syrian brothers in Christ pooled their money together to buy a plot of land to bury each other in after their deaths. Because, they knew at some point they would all die for their faith. They believed their lives were in God’s hands, and resigned themselves to a violent death by shooting, beheading, or torturous crucifixion.

He says this, “There is remarkable freedom in having no expectations, no plans for tomorrow. The question I and many others start every day with is this: “Jesus, what do You have planned for me and my family?” Only today matters. Only how I live for Jesus counts. Everything else is superficial… Is your life about Jesus and nothing else? When you may die at any moment, it has to be that way, but we’re all called to live only for Him, no matter what.”

He goes on to say, “Pray for us in Syria but please do not feel bad for us. We have never been more free.”

One of the startling things I’ve noticed, as I’ve read these books on believers in persecuted countries is this: they don’t ask for prayer for deliverance from their persecution. Because – they know that through their persecution, God is glorified, and more will come to know Jesus personally. Over and over, I’m learning that these believers are asking for prayer to have strength to continue on in the faith boldly proclaiming Jesus as Savior and Friend. They don’t ask for an end to their suffering, but to endure.

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What an example. Just think about that for a moment. There are believers in the Middle East, Africa, China, North Korea, and many more places in this world that have a faith I can’t even imagine having – but pray that maybe I would gain a few ounces of eventually! At least, that is the goal!

Maybe that’s why I love reading these books – they inspire me to look at my faith differently. To analyze and attempt (feebly) to imagine putting myself in their position and wondering – “what would I do?”

What would YOU do?

Persecution is not a pleasant thing to ponder, think about, or read about. But, I’m convinced, at least for myself, I need to read more about the “cost” of discipleship. What it truly means to love Jesus with absolutely EVERYTHING that I am. And be willing to GIVE everything to Him.

Pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world. There is real suffering. Real danger. Real persecution and torture.

Yet; there is REAL FREEDOM and REAL JOY that is only and always found in Christ. Pray for endurance, joy, and peace.

God bless your day!! Live inspired to love Him even more than you did yesterday!!! 

~ Allison

Take Captive!

2 Corinthians 10:5 – We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

 

If this isn’t a verse for TODAY, I don’t know what is! Would you agree that there are plenty of distractions, opinions, and attitudes in this world that sets itself up AGAINST the knowledge of God that we have? YES!

I certainly feel that spiritual battle in my thought life every day – the negativity, the critical spirit, the discouragement, the worry, or the frustration… It’s Satan’s way of distracting us from realizing the GOODNESS and FAITHFULNESS of God. Satan’s ultimate goal is to distract us from knowing the presence of God in our lives. He seeks to rob us of our joy and peace. He seeks to create in us a hopelessness and discontentment in our lives, and in our faith walk.

1 Corinthians 2:5 – …that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power!

It’s a serious battle, that we first need to be aware of, and secondly learn how to fight that battle. I’m more and more convinced every day that the most powerful weapon we have is His Word. To draw from His wisdom and promises, His proclamations of WHO He is, is what makes the devil flee from us. Crowd out the lies, with TRUTH!

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As I was focusing in on His Word this morning, I started journaling a prayer – and I’d like to share it with you, and pray this prayer for each of us today (and every day!).

Lord Jesus,

Help us to take captive every single thought today. Let us make YOU the author of our thoughts. Take away the distractions, the negative self talk, the thoughts that steal our joy and contentment in You. Instead, may our thoughts be in line with You and Your will for our lives. May our joy be complete in You – that our joy may NOT be dependent on ‘things’ but rather; Your promises. For Your promises are true and sure. 100% reliable, and pure. May our lives and day reflect who You are to us. May we be a living testimony of Your grace and healing. May we fill ourselves with the things that You desire for us – things that are eternal and lasting. Unshakeable faith, love, peace, contentment, grace, forgiveness, joy, empathy, and a servant heart. This world provides countless distractions from the knowledge of Your goodness – let us deflect those thoughts and be reminded of the rewards and benefits of being obedient to You – in full submission to You. Let that act of obedience be our joy and our peace today. Amen.

God bless your day! Take captive those thoughts and let His light shine in and through you!!

~ Allison

The FULLness of God

So, is it too early to start thinking about Thanksgiving dinner? Hmm. This morning I was thinking about not only the food, but how much I *LOVE* hanging out with my parents, and family. One word that comes to mind when I think about being together, sharing a meal and fellowship is the word: FULL or FULLNESS.

This morning, I read: Ephesians 3:14-21 – “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our LORD Jesus Christ… that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through the Spirit in the inner man… that you may be filled with all the FULLNESS of God.”

To be filled with the FULLNESS of God… To be filled with Jesus, is to love with the love that He has given to us. Freely, and without hesitation.

We are called to pour ourselves out because of the overflow of His great and amazing love for each of us.

Have you ever experienced that feeling of so much love – perhaps for your children or grandchildren… that you felt like you could literally burst with joy?

That’s that FULLNESS of love.

The love that God has for us, in and through His Son, Jesus, is the same. I imagine God’s heart bursts with fullness when He looks upon each one of us. His beloved. And out of that love, if we are WILLING, He graciously fills you and I with that FULLNESS of His Spirit. Giving us peace, contentment, and JOY to overlfowing!

So, what is OUR part in being FULL of Jesus?

Experiencing the fullness of His love for us does take intentionality on our part too! Yes, He so freely offers it to us through His gracious nature, but we also need to set our hearts and minds on the things of God.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you” ~ Philippians 4:8

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When we fully surrender our will, our relationships, our past, present, and future desires to Him, He so faithfully shows His mighty and awesome presence best in our lives! We empty ourselves, in order to make room for His Spirit to move.

So, I pray for each of us – that we will take a moment TODAY and invite Jesus into our lives – to fill up the spaces in our hearts and minds that we have surrendered to Him. To replace our own selfish desires with the fullness of His mighty presence!

Moment by moment – we have choices. We have a choice today, and every day – will we enjoy the fullness of Christ? Or, will we choose to fill our day with the emptiness of the world around me? May we choose well.

John 1:16 – For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.

Thank you, Jesus!!! God bless your day!!!

~ Allison

DelightFULL

Delight yourself in the Lord

and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4 

This verse has always confused me a bit. What does this verse mean to you?

First of all, what does it mean to ‘delight’ myself in the Lord. The word delight means to experience great pleasure and joy in something, or someONE.

Those of us who are parents, and/or grandparents probably think about delighting ourselves in the presence of our kids, or grandkids. Or, we may have a delightful time with a dear friend over a yummy cup of coffee and scone.

Maybe you know someone who you would describe as delilght-ful! Someone who lights up a room with pure joy. You may be delighted in their presence.

To delight ourselves in the Lord, we must have a close, intimate relationship with Him. We need that moment by moment contact, friendship, and intimacy that comes from investing our time, and our hearts into that relationship. The delight we find in the Lord comes from experiencing the closeness of His heart to ours. The joy we experience when we draw near to Him, and He fills us with an inexplicable joy and peace.

So, if we delight ourselves in the Lord – “He will give {us} the desires of our heart…”. What does that mean? I don’t believe this means we’ll get whatever we want, when we want it. I believe, as our relationship with Jesus grows deeper and deeper, He helps us align our desires with His desires for us and for our world.

It’s not about God making our dreams come true. But about our dreams aligning with what God’s dreams for our lives are.

Delighting  ourselves in the Lord is about our willingness to be open to His call upon our lives. He has a calling for each of us.

God’s greatest desire for us that we love Him with all our heart, soul and mind. And His challenge for us, is to love others with that same love.

He has been tugging and tugging at my heart lately to NOT be idle any longer. To not give just lip service to who God is in my life and heart. But to act. To make a difference – even if only to ONE person.

To love someONE the way Jesus loves me and to spread His LIGHT in this world. To dream His dreams for my life. And to take great DELIGHT in doing so.

May His desires and dreams be mine, and yours today. All we need is to have a willing heart, and follow up that willingness with obedience.

He can use each and every one of us for His glory.

What a DELIGHT.

God bless your day everyone!!! 

Allison

Ain’t No Mountain {Too High}

Is there something in your life that you need courage for? Do you need a super-natural bravery for something today?

Perhaps it’s a hard conversation looming over your head that needs to take place, or you’re struggling with a spiritual battle and feel alone? Or maybe you, like me – are experiencing loss, or are afraid you may lose someone dear to you. Maybe you hurt for a friend who is experiencing pain or trauma right now, and you don’t know what to do or say.

We all need courage in our lives at one point or another. I’m guessing each of us has dealt with some aspect of fear in our lives.

Guess what? Fear is NOT something that comes from the heart of God. Courage, bravery, and confidence come from the Author and Perfector of our faith! JESUS.

This past year I’ve lost 2 dear friends to a plane crash, and now a life long friend 2 days ago.

Over the last week, and I would say for some time… I’ve had so many thoughts of “Ok, when is it my turn to experience major trajedy in MY own family? Why should I be immune?”

I admit, whenever I get a phone call from either of my parents – one of my first thoughts is, “Oh no! What happened?!” It’s no way to live right? I’m always relieved when it’s just their cheery voice on the other line, and then I know everything is ok.

{Fear}

In this life, we WILL experience hardship, pain and sadness in this life. But God will never leave us. And I know, should I receive a devastating phone call at some point, He will show up. Mighty. Strong. Compassionate. Faithful.

God replaces our fear with {HOPE}.

Psalm 31:2 – Be of Good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

Maybe you are experiencing something hard right at this very moment.

Do you feel His presence with you?

Do you long for it?

Are you seeking His presence?

He’s there to give it!!

Over this last week, I can see how God provided me with a supernatural courage, and gave me a peace that nothing in this world can give.

On my first visit to Robin’s home after she was put on hospice, I remember walking up to the door and before knocking, I took a deep breath, heart pounding, not knowing what I would see on the other side of the door. I didn’t want to go… not at all. But I knew I had to go.

God showed up. Big time. Through the graciousness of her family and a few other friends there at that time, there was a calm. A peace. Was it hard? Absolutely. I had given myself the “pep talk” not to cry. But of course, tears streamed down my face as I saw my sweet friend so tiny, so weak… Everything became real in that moment.

I just kept muttering under my breath, “Jesus… Jesus…”. I had no more words…

You see, we need not be wordy. He knows. Just at the mention of His name – He is with us. So near. So comforting. So strong.

Whatever mountain may be in front of you today, trust in Him for the bravery and courage you need to face it with confidence!

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Deuteronomy 1:21 – See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’

Let God take possession of your fears today. He is faithful!

I Just Can’t…

Do you have days where you just literally feel like saying, “I just can’t…”.
Today, I feel pretty depleted of energy and joy. It’s been a tough week or so, since learning my friend’s battle with cancer is coming to an end. As I’ve sat with her, and prayed for her. and whispered the love of Jesus in her ear, I have truly felt the presence of our loving Heavenly Father in the room, in my heart, and I pray in her heart as well.
Amidst the sacredness of spending time with her as her life here with us comes to an end, there is also an emotional drain. Seeing her loved ones hurting, and the pained look on their faces as they watch their precious wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend fade away is so hard. I ache for them.
I am someone who FEELS a lot. Everything. Too much. I feel intense joy at times, and I feel intense pain at times. Last night, was a tough night of sleep for me. I had spent 4 hours with my friend, just being there in the quiet of her room. Sitting next to her on the bed, and stroking her arm or holding her hand. I woke up around 1:30am just replaying the evening in my head, and a heaviness woke with me this morning.
It’s been difficult to focus today at work. So, I decided to open up one of my devotionals I keep at work. For such a time as this.
Once again. God shows up.
Romans 12:12 – Be joyful in HOPE, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Ephesians 1:17-18 – May God give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the HOPE to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious interitance in the saints.
Proverbs 23:18 – There is surely a future hope for you, and your HOPE will not be cut off.
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Yet. HOPE.
Sometimes the circumstances in our lives, frankly, suck. Excuse me. But they do. Would you agree?
But, no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in – we are encouraged to not lose hope. We have a glorious and amazing inheritance in Jesus. We may go through momentary trials and tragedy, but in the light of eternity, it is but a breath.
Sometimes, we are so entrenched in a situation here on earth, that we only see the minute details. But God’s perspective is so much bigger, and He sees the BIG picture. And His perspective will never let us down. It is trustworthy.
Trust in God’s BIG picture for you today, and tomorrow, and the next day and the next… I’m clinging to that today, and I hope you will too!
Peace, love, and HOPE today and always.
~ Allison

I. Am. God.

Deuteronomy 31:8 – The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Tonight, I am going to see and love on my friend whom I wrote about yesterday at her home. God gave me this verse today – and I love it. He goes before us, and will never leave nor forsake us.

Thinking back, I have had friends and family who have passed away. But never someone that I have known was dying, and probably very soon. What do you do? What do you say?

I’m praying and contemplating this today. And God just keeps speaking “I am faithful. I am with her. I am there, in the midst of the tears and sadness. I. Am. God.”

A few days ago, I texted her husband. It was brief. One of the things I said, was “…there are no words…”.

Romans 8:26 says – In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

When we have no words… His Spirit so beautifully fills in the blanks and intercedes on our behalf. Yet another way, God has EVERYTHING under the sun completely covered.

Prayers of intercession are powerful. Please know that. We may never know how those prayers have made a difference this side of Heaven, but they have and will continue to.

By praying on behalf of others, we have the amazing privilege and honor to be a part of something so much bigger than us. The prayers of the righteous are effective and powerful. Never stop praying.

God is good. All the time.

Peace,
Allison