A few years ago there was a quote from Joyce Meyer that stuck with me. “Giving in to fear alters God's best plan for your life. Do what He wants you to do...even if you have to do it afraid!” The part that really stuck was “….. do it afraid!” There have been so many times when I have been afraid to step out, not sure of the outcome, and I would just do it even if I was scared. I have come to believe that bravery isn’t the absence of fear but not allowing fear to control you.
Lately, I’ve been processing a different kind of challenge to my perfectionist tendencies…… my weight. Since childhood, I have struggled with unhealthy beliefs and mindsets about my self-image and weight. Much of my teens and twenties were marred with eating disorders from anorexia to binge-eating. Subsequently my weight has fluctuated all over the place. I’ve gained weight, lost it, and gained it again, living life obsessed with this perpetual yo-yo of shame and freedom, all based on a stinking number on a scale. Thank you, Jesus that I am not alone in my struggles. God is always present in my heart reminding me of how He sees me and how beautiful I am despite where my weight is currently.
Despite the revelation of God’s love for me, there was still something holding me back from many things God has called me to do. I was waiting to lose the weight before I could step into what He wanted. I know that I am not alone. Weight is a huge issue for a lot of us but many of us hold back because of other issues as well. “When I make more money…” “After I’m married….” “When I quit smoking…” “If my boss were to promote me……”
Here we are waiting. We wait trying to clean ourselves up before we allow God’s love to move through us. We pass up opportunities. We hesitate. We hold back. All because we don’t feel ready!
Here is the list of things I was holding back on: exercising (so ironic, I know!), making new friends, pursuing career connections, opening up to friends and family, and allowing myself to receive love from those closest to me.
There have been times when I felt ready because I felt confident in myself; but when your confidence is found in a number on the scale, it fades as soon as that number changes.
What if we stopped waiting until we felt ready?
What if I were to just do it? Just as I am?
Over the past several weeks, I have been trying to live this way and I’ve made some pretty cool observations.
• First off, the power that food held in my mind has lessened. I’m not dieting or counting calories obsessively but I am making healthy choices not because I have to but because I want to.
• Since I don’t feel confident or even comfortable stepping out, I pray a lot more. “OK, God, if you want me to do this, give me what I need to make it happen because you know I don’t have it!” This has brought a new dependence on God, which brings more freedom.
• Knowing I might be judged by my weight has forced me to let go of my need for approval and just love people whether they affirm me or not. (Again this is not comfortable but totally freeing!)
• I would love to say, I’ve dropped pounds. I honestly don’t know because I haven’t been obsessed with the scale either.
• My life hasn’t transformed overnight but many of my perceptions have changed. I am seeing more opportunities where I hadn’t seen them before.
• Allowing myself to receive love has brought a keen awareness of those who love me, which has deepened the intimacy with my husband and my close friends.
• Learning to let go of shame has allowed me to see myself in a new light. I never realized all the shame that I walked in before.
• I am actually beginning to be thankful for my body, instead of only seeing the flaws.
“Walking in grace” has a deeper meaning. Honestly, this is the core message of the gospel. Will we allow the power of God’s love to save us, not just in a one-time moment but in every area of our lives? Today, let me challenge you to step forward in an area you haven’t felt ready to step into before. Stop obsessing about whatever qualifier you have convinced yourself that you need. Give it to God! Allow yourself to receive His grace for the challenge and just do it!
by Julie Hodgden
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Pic by Sommer.Daniel
Psalm 139.13 For you created me in my inmost being you knit me together in my mother's womb
I think flourishing begins with knowing ‘whose’ we are. Knowing that we are not an accident and that we have been created on purpose for a purpose.
I accepted Jesus when I was in fourth grade. I read my Bible off and on, went to church off and on, and even went to an occasional Christian Bible camp. I knew God was real and I knew I was going to Heaven. I believed everything in the Bible but I didn't know that I was missing out on something else.
I remember the first time I realized that Jesus wanted a relationship with me. I was in my twenties on my bed and I had this ‘aha’ moment as I was praying.
It was not longer about the do's and don'ts.
It was no longer about the rules and being good.
It was about entering into a relationship with the creator of the universe, with my heavenly dad.
From then on I have been on a journey of finding out what that looks like and what it means to be in a relationship with Him.
God gave me this vision last year that goes along with the scripture in Jeremiah 1:5:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
I was in the prayer house at Bethel in Redding, California last year and God gave me a vision. I was in the womb, and He was holding me with His hands forming me. He was putting all of my quirks, all of my talents and gifts, my crazy sense of humor in me. He said to me, “Kendal, I spoke the entire world into motion. I said light and there was light, I spoke the stars into their place, I spoke the animals into existence. But with you, I took my time, I used my hands. I held you, I formed you. I've been thinking about you forever." It was this crazy encounter moment with God where He went from being this creator in Heaven a long way off to an intimate loving father. We say God loves us, He’s near, He's involved but it's not until He speaks to your spirit and you encounter Him one on one that it actually begins to make sense. The Scriptures comes alive and the Bible stops just being a history book and becomes a love letter that He wrote just to you.
God doesn't just like us, or tolerate us or even need us. He wants us. He adores us. He craves to be intimate with us, to be near us like he was when He was forming us.
Just as He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve, He craves that kind of friendship with us. He wants to talk to us about life. Our ups our downs. What excites us. What saddens us. He wants to reveal His plans for our life, He wants to walk through it all with us. He isn't a far off distant father who is sitting on the sidelines watching life happen to us. No, He is close. He is personal and He is involved when we invite Him in.
by Kendal Kelly
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I read a quote on my social media the other day and it just hit me wrong! Here it is: “Pressure proves whether you're a diamond or dust.”
At the time I was not sure why it bothered me so much. I mean the person who posted this was a great person and I am sure this was inspiring to them, but to me it read more like this:
“If you ever crumbled under pressure, you are not a diamond you are just dust!”
I for one have not always handled pressure well. Sure, I have had my diamond moments and I’ve risen to the challenge at some key shining moments. However, there have also been plenty of dusty moments when I have caved to my own emotions or given in to things that have not been the best for me.
Why was a quote that was so inspiring to others so incredibly discouraging to me? The truth is, I was feeling judged and found lacking! In my inner turmoil I turned to God. “Why do I feel this way, God? You know me and You know my path, why does this thought bother me so much?” Here is what I felt God say, (not audibly but in that small voice you can only hear in your spirit when you quiet your heart), “I make some pretty beautiful things out of dust!” Drop the mic! God is so good at saying exactly what you need to hear at exactly the right moment!
The Bible is filled with stories of God using less than capable individuals. Here are just a few stories about some pretty dusty people that God did some incredible things with!
Abraham: He attempted to sell his wife to save his own skin, not once, but twice! Dust! He became the Father of all of Israel. Diamond!
Sarah - She laughed in an angel’s face when he was sharing God’s incredible plan for her. She was so insecure in herself that she convinced her husband to sleep with her servant then struggled with so much jealousy of the child conceived from her plan that she abandoned the woman and her child in the wilderness. Dust! She became the mother of all of Israel. Diamond!
David - He became the king of Israel but used his power to sleep with a married woman, then arranged for the murder of her husband. Dust! He was considered the best king Israel ever had! God called him a man after His own heart! Diamond!
Peter - He was always sticking his foot in his mouth. He completely denied Jesus in his darkest moments! Dust! Went on to start and lead the first church. Diamond!
Martha - She was so controlling that she harassed her sister to the point of ignoring that the King of Eternity was in her midst, then whined about it to Jesus. Dust! Showed strong faith even in the face of her brother’s death! Diamond!
And let’s not forget the very first man who was created out of ……(That’s right!)…. dust. Mankind was generated from dust! Looking at all the dusty situations God uses, I could almost conclude that God prefers to work with dust! Adam is a perfect example of God’s handiwork but let us not forget the most important element of the creation story. Adam, who was lovingly formed out of dust by God, was not truly alive until God breathed life into him. The breath of God was the game-changer! When God breathes life into dust, something beautiful happens.
Throughout scripture, the Creator of the cosmos has shown His character to us. He rarely chooses the capable or the strong to use. He chooses instead to breathe life into the ones that everyone else dismisses. So, before you dismiss yourself because of the dusty moments in your life, remember that God wants to breathe life into that dust and turn it into a diamond!
by Julie Hodgden
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pic by Daemon Ex Machina
Why is control such an ugly word? Typically when you think of a controlling person you think of a type A personality: a driver of projects as well as of people. But I challenge that assumption. I have friends who are far from type A and still embrace an aspect of the quality. Their flavor of control is in not allowing others to exert control over them, which they accomplish with passive-aggressive techniques like avoidance. Some resort to outright rebellion if they deem it necessary. My point is simply that all mortals embrace some tick mark on the control continuum. We are yin and yank down here.
I can’t speak for everyone but I think it would be safe to say that for many of us type A personalities, a sense of control makes us feel safe. Even if it is an illusion, there is a comfort in having a plan. Oh sure, we will tell you that the plan can change at anytime, but most of the time we also think we have control over what kind of changes the plan can make. That would certainly describe me. Looking back I would have to say I was someone who had very little tolerance for unplanned changes to the plan.
In the midst of a season of transition from Redding (presumably back to the east coast), my own carefully laid plans started to undergo an increasing number of adjustments. At first, I just thought it was novel, and reveled in my ability to roll. As it continued I found myself asking God, “Say, who authorized all of these changes anyway?” As they continued their attack (an accurate descriptor from my POV), I started to feel angry. I rediscovered a whole new color palette in my vocabulary. I questioned my salvation. But it wasn’t until I found myself wondering out loud if I could really commit to a life of following Jesus, that I realized something in my heart was fundamentally broken, and this was His way of showing me.
When I brought it before God, I was confronted with the truth of what I actually believed - that I had a heavenly Father that I could accept as wild, unpredictable, exciting and fierce...but not actually safe. I did not feel safe with God. I did not feel safe with the idea of letting God lead. And I especially did not feel safe when God introduced unplanned elements into the plan. In fairness, I had been doing alright with the illusion of my control. I couldn’t tell you that things always worked out as I had planned - in fact the most important things rarely did. But I carved out a good life around those disappointments and decided that I could be happy enough with the successes I could manipulate.
Now God was inviting me out to bigger risk. The kind of dreams that were way beyond my reach. But as I contemplated my transition I was still playing it safe. I wanted to bunt and run - He wanted me to swing for the fence. When I refused to swing, He struck me out and sent me to the bench to await another turn at bat. …isn’t that just like a coach?
As I near the end of my transition I am gratified for His relentless focus on process. I have learned to embrace that quickly at least. When the ground under me gets really shaky, and I find myself clamoring for control, I meditate on verses describing His faithfulness, His protection and His covering. He is a God who is always inviting us higher and it seems like an appropriate metaphor to think of our journey with Him as a trip up a mountain. I might be the one in the driver’s seat but He is the one laying out the road in front of me - meter by meter. And with each new twist or turn in the road I make every effort to stop white-knuckling the wheel. And I’m getting there…at least I’ve relaxed my grip. Soon I’ll be able to hold on loosely. Secretly though, I’m pushing for the day when I can take both of my hands off the wheel, stick them through the sunroof, and steer with my knees.
by Carrie Householder
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by Julie Hodgden
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Love is the main thing!! This might seem obvious, right? Love makes the world go round. Even the Beatles state this commonly held truth in their iconic song, “All you need is Love.” It was the power of love that motivated Jesus to die for the sins of humanity. Love can lead us to do some pretty powerful stuff. History is filled with incredible stories of the power of love, yet many of us do not really live our day to day lives out of love.
We find ourselves stressed, worried, frustrated, afraid, even angry. We live out each moment not out of love but striving for a myriad of ways to control ourselves or our environment. Why is that, despite the fact that most of us would rank “Love” as one of our deepest held values?
What if we really did live each day, each moment out of love? What would that look like? How would it change our motivation? For example; I hate going grocery shopping!!! The long lines, people in my way, shelling out major money, trying to remember everything I need, maneuvering a loaded-down cart around crowded aisles, rude cashiers... I could probably write a whole blog about how I loathe grocery shopping, but since I have a large family with lots of mouths to feed, it is a necessary evil that I must endure. After getting a revelation of the power of love and a strong desire to allow love to motivate my every action, I realized that I could go grocery shopping out of love.
I love my family and I want to feed them well so I could essentially tap into that love to fuel my grocery shopping. I don’t need to be coerced or wander the aisles resenting my life. I could shop with joy seeing every item as a blessing to our family. OK, so I know this sounds all “Pollyanna-ish" but seriously, there is a reason behind everything we do.
I married my husband because I love him, so why do I lose sight of that love and resent the compromises I make in our relationship? Most of us make decisions based on what we feel is the right thing to do, yet we let fear, stress or selfishness affect our emotions; and lose sight of the original love that motivated our decision in the first place. It all started with love, what would happen if we let that love motivate the day to day moments of living out our deepest held belief.
Today, let me encourage you to get back in touch with the love that has brought you to the place you are at today. Remember why you are at the job you are at. Did you take this job because it was your dream? Or maybe it is not your dream job and you work at it to provide for your family? Get back in touch with your dreams. Don’t lose sight of the real reasons behind what you do. What about the relationships in your life? Remember what it felt like when you first met your spouse, first held your child, first opened up to your friends! Let that love motivate the current relationship down to the most minute details. Live it out in every action!
My prayer is that as we get back in touch with the roots of our love, we will allow God’s love to fill our hearts until everything we do is out of an overflow of His love (which is far bigger and wider than our often selfish kind of love.) Ultimately, He set the example of living out love when He laid down His life for us to have a relationship with Him. What an inspiration to us!!
So, as we step into 2016, let's be challenged to live out the legacy of love that God has set before us; to allow every action and situation to be a conduit of His love to others. We know we won’t live this out perfectly, but God is the master at doing extraordinary things through flawed people who surrender to His love!
by Tania Woods
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As we closely approach the new year, if you are like myself, you tend to reflect on the current year - where it started and where it ended. This allows us to truly see the blessings that God has placed upon ourselves and our family. If you are also like me you might be a chronic life planner.
I always like to plan and achieve large milestones, usually by my birthday. It helps me to feel like I’m really winning on this whole “adulting” thing that I have been forcefully pushed into by age. According to my milestone plans, I should have purchased a house, been in a relationship that is becoming serious, have a career that I am satisfied with and soaring in, and finally reached my goal weight. Instead I live at home with my parents, in a season of joblessness, have gone on two dates that went no where, and cannot fit into the pants that I wore this time last year. So what should that tell me about my plans?
“We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God’s purpose prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21 MSG)
Perhaps instead of focusing on myself once the new year comes, in the year 2016 my focus will be more on Him. When we focus on Him we are already set to be restored and renewed. Bountiful blessings will pour onto us because we are His children. What father does not want to make or see His child happy and be in the best place they can be? So while my plans may have been laughed upon by the Lord, I know that He knows that these desires are still on my heart, for He would not have put them there if I was not planning to fulfill them. It is just not the season for them yet.
So while some of us may jump on the “new year, new me” bandwagon, we have to remember that our God is the same. A God who loves us and cherishes us. One who created us in His image, made us unique in His likeness. He has placed desires on our heart that He is preparing for us, so that when we do get them we will know what to do with the blessing. So instead of planning our steps, let’s plan on being prepared and becoming equipped by our God.
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 MSG)
by Harmony Vuycankiat
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I am always in awe of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was so young yet so highly favored by the Lord. Her response to the unique call that God placed on her life was extraordinary. She accepted the mission that God gave her without question or complaint. This godly woman truly inspires me to be a radical Christ follower.
The thing that encourages me the most about Mary is her humility. Luke 1:48 gives us a glimpse into her faith-filled heart: “For He took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed.”
Mary’s whole perspective on the news that she would be carrying the Christ-child was seen through the eyes of gratitude. Instead of viewing nine months of pregnancy as an inconvenience, she saw it as an opportunity. There was a chance that she could have been shunned by society by her unmarried status but instead, she chose joy. In fact, Mary is so aware of her lowly state that she recognizes the importance of God noticing her by declaring that she is blessed.
What an unusual and unlikely response for her to have. Every Christmas I ask myself if I would have responded in the same manner as Mary. Would I, given the controversial circumstances, have reacted in such a graceful way?
If you really think about it, who gets excited over defamation of character? Does anyone really like being talked about in a derogatory way? I am sure Mary was no different than you and me, and had genuine concerns over her newly tainted reputation. She did now allow her concerns to have a voice, however.
So, this holiday season, I am taking a lesson from sweet Mary. It is so easy this time of year to ignore the blessings that God has given me because of the burdens I am carrying around. I do not want to miss the opportunities that present themselves in the midst of my inconveniences, though. I do not want to be so focused on what other people might think of me that I neglect to speak of what God has done for me.
This Christmas, I choose to remember that God sees me in my humble state, just like He saw Mary. So I will keep my heart tuned to His voice so that my words only reflect thankfulness. Then others will plainly see that Jesus has indeed made His home in me.
by Kendal Kelly
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Everyone loves new: new clothes for that date coming up, new leather smell of a brand new car, and especially a new crush. All of these have a way of causing excitement, joy and adventure. There is only one type of new that never initially gets me that hyped up - a new season, AKA transition.
The word transition means ‘the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.’ There is that other word that we all dislike - process. I remember when I was led to move to a Bible School in California. It was the craziest time of my life. I lost people I loved, my community, my well paying job, to take a crazy step in faith. It was hard and confusing but had I not left, I would not have had the tools and character needed to start ministries and the faith to be stepping into a social enterprise/coffee shop that helps at-risk youth.
If you look back through the Bible, we see that God is a God of instant miracles and healings, but He also uses the process or the journey. Look at the Israelites, they took forty years to get to their Promised Land after being enslaved for hundreds of years by the Egyptians.
They were told when to eat and how to eat, where to work and when to sleep, when to wake and what to do. They had no rights and no decisions that they were allowed to make for themselves.They were beaten, mistreated and devalued. God answered their cries by sending a leader to deliver them. Extremely amazing long story short - they flee for their lives into the wilderness on a journey to the Promised Land that God has for them.
The Israelites’ bodies were no longer slaves in Egypt but their minds still were. Even in our own lives, we cannot bring the old ways into the new places that God has for us. That is why the process feels like a stripping of things - painful, confusing, challenging and uncomfortable.
We have the tendency to feel that we are worse off in the new place. We are learning new things, so it feels foreign. It’s always difficult starting fresh in a new place, and it’s hard to get our bearings; but we eventually do. The new becomes the norm and eventually we master the new just as we did in the last season.
Any time we are going through a transition, there is a temptation to run back but God is trying to take us deeper into His heart. The Israelites were so uncomfortable with the new that they yelled at Moses for freeing them and told him that they wanted to go back to Egypt. In Exodus 14:13 Moses answers the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.” Sometimes all you can do is stand. Refuse to go back. Hang on. Settle in. Stand your ground. Lean into Jesus and trust that there is something better for you on the other side.
By looking at the story of the Israelites we can learn how to transition well:
No matter where you are in the process, don’t give up! Keep going; it’s just around the corner, one foot in front of the other and remember that God is for you! Continue to read His promises, read the prophecies spoken over you, worship Him, lean into His voice, surround yourself with His people and keep walking. When the door has shut and you are waiting for the next one to open don't give up even when it's hell in the hallway. Eventually you will be on the other side and it will have been worth it, because you will be wiser, stronger and walking out your purpose and destiny.
Jeremiah 29:11 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.
by Harmony Vuycankiat
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I love this time of year. The vibrant colors of Fall and the crisp, cool temperatures invite me to take a walk down memory lane. The smoky scent of burning leaves always puts me in a nostalgic mood. I feel like a five year old again.
There is just something about the holidays that awakens the childlike heart within me.
There is so much excitement to be had, so much giddiness to take part in; and so much happiness to be found.
Jumping in piles of leaves with my sisters. Wearing cozy sweaters and fuzzy boots as my parents and I picked out the Christmas tree. Sipping hot cider from a reindeer mug in front of our fireplace. These are all images that conjure up memories of amazing times in my childhood spent with my loving family. Pictures of the past that remind me of why I am the way I am.
They remind me of who I am.
I have countless things to be grateful for because of these sacred memories but the thing that tops the list is simply this: I have never had to wonder if I am loved.
LOVE: the thing that this whole planet is desperately searching for. I have always had the incredible privilege of knowing where I can find it. Not because my family was perfect. Not because we all got along 100% of the time. No. Love was never doubted because it was so freely given.
And the fact that I’ve never had to wonder if I am loved gives me a whole new perspective on this time of year. So many are without people in their lives to whisper God’s goodness into their ears.
Because, really, that is what my family did for me. Each kiss goodnight was God’s tenderness on display. Each dinner at the table was heaven’s way of communicating the importance of relationship. Each song around the piano was a precious moment in time that forever remains a melody in my heart.
I have been given a gift and I do not take that for granted.
To those of you who do not have joyful memories to be grateful for, I am so sorry. God’s heart has always been to completely overwhelm you with His perfect love. It has never been to hurt you. But sometimes we humans do not deliver that message very well or maybe we do not deliver the message at all.
And I do not think I’m supposed to hoard my experience and leave you wondering, questioning, yearning, for this seemingly elusive concept called love.
So, on behalf of all those who did not relay God’s love to you, I apologize. Let me set the record straight. You have been loved from the start. You are loved right now at this very moment. And you will be loved tomorrow. No matter what. In fact, you cannot do anything to remove God’s love from you.
Take a moment and breathe that truth in deep. Doesn’t it feel good to be a child again?
by Malika Cox
PIc by by moonloop
The world we live in is constantly at work trying to shape and mold us into something that we are not. Society rewards us when we wear a mask and facade and when we try to conform to its unrealistic expectations and impossible standards.
If we don’t know who we are, then we will fear being our authentic selves. If we don’t feel loved for who we really are then we will always be at work trying to measure up, achieve and conform to the demands of this world. The truth is, until we discover our intrinsic value, we will always try be something we are not instead of stepping into all that we are.
We are all unique, no one possesses our DNA and no one has our particular set of fingerprints. No one on earth is like us. We are all a one-of-a-kind original masterpiece. Deep down inside we know this and that is why our uniqueness flows out of our core in different ways. It can be seen in our sense of fashion, in our sense of humor, in our taste in music.
Our individuality can be seen in the passion for our causes, in our hobbies, academic pursuits, choices of vocation and avocation. When we embrace our identity and individuality we declare something deeper about eternity.
However we have been fashioned, it is for a specific purpose and reason. We are neither an accident nor a mistake. No matter the circumstances of our birth, we are destined to be here. We actually have been plucked from eternity and placed into our specific location and time. No matter the obstacles we face or the challenges we encounter, we were born to conquer them all and flourish in life.
The Infinite Creator of the Universe designed us and knows our detailed workings. He understands how we are wired and what makes us tick. And even more than all of this, He loves how we are wired. He loves our uniqueness. He created us. There is nothing about us that is a surprise to Him. He is not caught off guard, nor taken aback. We are actually His idea and design.
God not only loves our uniqueness, He loves us. He has always desired a close loving parent-child relationship with us, even though we often find ourselves running from Him for fear of not measuring up. To bridge that gap He sent His only beloved son from heaven to earth for you and me. Jesus came extending grace not condemnation. He came offering forgiveness not judgment. He came for relationship not rules.
Love Incarnate came to earth for each and every single one of us to rescue, redeem, restore and reconnect us to our Heavenly Father. Jesus paid the price for our every sin, mistake and shortcoming on the cross at Calvary once and for all to ease our guilty conscience, so we could stop running from God and start running towards Him.
Now we can receive Jesus’ righteousness by simple faith and rest in His finished work on the cross. As we seek our Heavenly Father in prayer, we can catch a greater glimpse daily of His radical love for us. His love is infinite, His mercy unending and forgiveness unfailing. As we grow as people of love we will begin to sense the calling we were made for. Once we begin to become rooted in the knowledge of God’s love we will get a fuller picture of our purpose here on earth.
God’s radical love transforms us from the inside out into people of love. Loved people love and the more we receive His love the more we will effortlessly step into His purpose and plan; the more we will become everything that we are designed to be and do all we were made for.
Ephesians 2:18-19 (MSG) - My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.