A Morning Story

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Confession: I woke up cranky today. I was impatient with my kids, griping about what they had or hadn’t done and short-tempered with inanimate objects like a box of cookies that wouldn’t easily open while I was packing lunches. I was stomping around and sighing deep and bitter sighs over an accidental apple juice spill when the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me that it wasn’t my kids’ fault I stayed up too late and then overslept as a result of it. It wasn’t my kids’ fault that I was feeling anxious about spending most of today in a dentist’s chair (). It wasn’t my kids’ fault that I hadn’t gotten my ideal morning routines done, but it certainly was MY fault that I was behaving badly and starting their day off with Grumpy-Mom. He reminded me of gentleness, patience, and self-control. He reminded me that it is my job to teach them what it looks like to reflect Jesus even when emotions don’t measure up and circumstances aren’t perfect.

I stopped fighting with the uncooperative box of Oreos and apologized to my children. Without hesitation, they forgave me. They were sorry I was having a hard day and they wished me a better morning. They loved me so well in their compassion. Their kindness humbled me — and showed me a glimpse of God.

This is His way, to not only forgive – but to forgive with abounding love and mercy, encouraging us to move forward in His grace without condemnation lingering on our hearts. His forgiveness is whole and His redemption power fully covers our sin.

So, all that to say- if you happen to have started today or this week (or even this year!) on the wrong foot — stop. Take a breath. Make the apologies you might need to make, to your people and to the Father. And then move forward in His grace and in the unfailing kindness of His love. Know you are forgiven and it’s the next moment that matters. Leave behind what has been and press on, trusting that He is ever-transforming us into His image if we keep surrendering our hearts, our minds, and even our crankiest of mornings into His keeping.

I am grateful today for mercy. I am thankful for love that keeps on loving, never giving up on us.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”
-Lamentations 3:22-23

Together We Follow: Genesis 9:18-29

We find our first glimpse of ordinary life after the flood in the second portion of Genesis 9.

Noah has been hard at work tending the ground. We’re told that he has planted grapes, cultivating a vineyard. One day, he drinks too much of the wine made from those grapes and he becomes drunk. This intoxication leaves him fully exposed to anyone who enters his tent.

We aren’t told if Noah intends to get drunk. We’re shown the state of his physical actions, but not the state of his heart. What we do know is that he has lost control of himself in this moment, allowing the wine to overtake him…this was sin and it does, of course, show us the danger of allowing wine – or anything that undermines the authority of God in our actions – to take control of us.

But, at this moment, my attention is drawn less to Noah’s mistake and more to the reaction of his sons in this moment of disgrace.

Ham finds his father in this vulnerable position and leaves him there, going outside to tell his brothers exactly what he had seen.

Shem and Japheth take great care to enter the tent without seeing their father’s shame, covering him with a robe.

All three of Noah’s sons had a choice in how to deal with this scene that Ham discovered.

Ham chose to further expose his father to shame. Immediately telling his brothers was not an act of respect, but a move to embarrass Noah. This was not a choice of love, but of derision. This tells us a lot about Ham’s own heart — although we don’t have specifics, there must have been some seed of contention, pride, bitterness, or anger in his heart to see this harvest of cruelty.

Shem and Japheth, however, choose to immediately help their father. They did not find pleasure in catching him in this sinful moment. In total respect, they enter into this place of Noah’s shame and cover him. This act, to me, reflects the heart of the Father who had once covered the exposed shame of their long-ago ancestors in the garden of Eden. Instead of joining Ham in pointing out Noah’s wrong, they met their father in love.

In the resulting curse and blessing on the sons of Noah, we can see how serious God is about the way we treat one another.

Always, we must keep in mind how He has treated us — this is the pattern we are to follow…His heart toward His children is the model for our own hearts.

So far, we have seen justice, yes, and consequences for sin. But His discipline flows from His love…it is meant to draw His people back to Him, to show the way of restoration and redemption. We have seen grace. We have seen mercy. We have seen compassion.

When we look ahead, we see this love in God’s own Son – Jesus comes to us, meets us in the place of our sin and shame, and covers us with His righteousness. He does not leave us helpless, but becomes our rescue. John 3:17 tells us that He does not come into the world to condemn, but to save.

It will never fail to fill me with awe  – while I was still in sin…while I was still under the control of my pride and fear…Jesus died for me.

It’s the same for you – for all of us who has been brought near to God again through the blood of our Savior.

Knowing this, how do we react to others in their sin? How do we choose to respond when someone stumbles?  How do we choose to treat our brothers and sisters – or those who don’t know God – when we see their shame?

Proverbs tell us that we shouldn’t rejoice even when our enemy falls. We should be a people of compassion — knowing the pain and bondage of sin, it is our joy to help others to find the same freedom we have been given. James tells us to turn sinners from the error of their ways if they have wandered from the truth…not to gloat over their sin or to spread word of their failure. Paul says to speak the truth to our brothers and sisters – in love. 

God did not abandon us to our stupor of sin. He redeemed us from it.

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. (1 John 4:11)

Let us pray that we will be transformed by the Holy Spirit until we are like Him…let us see others in the fullness of His truth and grace.  Let us love as we have been loved. Let us meet others in their hardest places, in their moments of disgrace, and show the grace that Jesus has shown to us. Let the harvest of our hearts overflow in what the Spirit plants: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control.

Let us keep in step with Your Spirit and Your way, Father.

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Genesis 9:18-29

The sons of Noah who came out of the boat with their father were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham is the father of Canaan.) From these three sons of Noah came all the people who now populate the earth.

After the flood, Noah began to cultivate the ground, and he planted a vineyard.  One day he drank some wine he had made, and he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent.  Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers.  Then Shem and Japheth took a robe, held it over their shoulders, and backed into the tent to cover their father. As they did this, they looked the other way so they would not see him naked.

When Noah woke up from his stupor, he learned what Ham, his youngest son, had done. Then he cursed Canaan, the son of Ham: “May Canaan be cursed! May he be the lowest of servants to his relatives.”

Then Noah said, “May the Lord, the God of Shem, be blessed, and may Canaan be his servant! May God expand the territory of Japheth! May Japheth share the prosperity of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant.”

 Noah lived another 350 years after the great flood.  He lived 950 years, and then he died.

Together We Follow: Genesis 8

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Dear friends,

On the hardest days it helps if I write to you like this, a letter to sisters and brothers walking through this life with me. I am here, sitting in my dining room and watching the rain fall outside. The limbs of our pine trees move with the wind; the road has a layer of water covering its dark asphalt.

I don’t know where you read my words, but I know that we share this same sky, the same wind, the same rain that falls.

And we share the sorrow of everything that is happening around us.

The news is hard these days. So very hard. It is hard to even keep track of all the wrongs being done, all the pain felt, all the violence that circles our earth.

All through my news feed on twitter, I keep reading these questions: how long? When will things get better? God, where are You?

I wonder if Noah had some of the same questions. We will read today how the days on the ark stretched on and on after the 40 days of earth-shattering torrents. In total, he and his family spent over a year in the boat, with the memory of what had been, the unknowns of the future. I wonder if they began to doubt their rescue would come. I wonder if they begin to wonder if God had saved them from the violence of their time and from the storm only to leave them alone to figure out how to survive. Don’t you think, being normal men and women like us, that they asked – how long, God? Where are You?

Answers came– because God remembered Noah. He had never, not for a moment forgotten him. In His timing, the flood receded. In His timing, this family stepped into a new life and a new covenant–God promised that He would never flood the earth again . Despite the evil of man’s heart, He gave His word that the seasons would go on and life would not be destroyed. He already knew that sin would grow again in the descendants of Noah. He wanted to give a way of heart-change, of full redemption.

So where was God? He was there, cradling the ark among the mighty waves. He was there, teaching Noah to trust Him even in the silent times. He was there when Noah stepped off the ark, the feat of starting over ahead of him. He was there.

So where does this leave us? In this time that seems like an endless cycle of pain, where is God?

He is with us. Emmanuel–God is with us.  We can take this truth even deeper – He is in us. When Jesus left this earth after His resurrection, He did not leave us alone. He did not leave us as orphans. He did not leave us powerless. He sent His Spirit to dwell within us.

When God sent the Holy Spirit, He was showing us-I am not going anywhere. I am Your teacher. I am your comfort. I am with you. I am your power to push back darkness, to undo what the enemy has done.

So where is God?

Church…body of Christ…brothers and sisters…He is in us. We are alive in Him; in Him we live and move and breathe. He has given us His authority and His ear. We are sons and daughters of God, given all that we need to live in His image and to give others this hope of redemption, beauty for ashes, a day when all will be made new.

He has given us His weapons to demolish the strongholds of the enemy, to stand firm against his plans of destruction.

 He has given us His love that lights our path and shows us how to love each other. He has shown us the power of unity.

He has made us one body.

This is it. This is when we fall to our knees and stand in this gap to pray, even as Jesus prays for us. This is when we let our love speak louder than the hatred the enemy is spilling everywhere, every day. This is when we act out of faith instead of fear.

Are the waves high? Is the storm fierce?

Yes, we know that it is – but our Savior walks on water. Our Savior can calm the storm with one command. Our rescue has already come!

Our Savior is the One who says – yes, you will have trouble in this world. But take heart! I have overcome the world!

Has He forgotten us?

No.

Let us not forget Him. Let us not forget who we are in Him.

Let’s commit to love, to hope. Let’s commit to kindness. Let’s commit to prayer because prayer matters. If not us – if not the children of God who have been set free by His power and ransomed by His love – then who will declare His love to a world that needs it? Who else will love their neighbors as themselves and pray for their enemies?

This is the time for us – the Church – to let the Light of the world shine through us.

This is my reminder and yours– the darkness does not ever, ever, ever overcome.

Don’t be afraid to shine.

Love,

Christie

Genesis 8 

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede. The underground waters stopped flowing, and the torrential rains from the sky were stopped. So the floodwaters gradually receded from the earth. After 150 days, exactly five months from the time the flood began, the boat came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Two and a half months later, as the waters continued to go down, other mountain peaks became visible.

After another forty days, Noah opened the window he had made in the boat and released a raven. The bird flew back and forth until the floodwaters on the earth had dried up. He also released a dove to see if the water had receded and it could find dry ground. But the dove could find no place to land because the water still covered the ground. So it returned to the boat, and Noah held out his hand and drew the dove back inside. After waiting another seven days, Noah released the dove again. This time the dove returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. Then Noah knew that the floodwaters were almost gone. He waited another seven days and then released the dove again. This time it did not come back.

Noah was now 601 years old. On the first day of the new year, ten and a half months after the flood began, the floodwaters had almost dried up from the earth. Noah lifted back the covering of the boat and saw that the surface of the ground was drying. Two more months went by, and at last the earth was dry!

Then God said to Noah, “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives. Release all the animals—the birds, the livestock, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.”

 So Noah, his wife, and his sons and their wives left the boat. And all of the large and small animals and birds came out of the boat, pair by pair.

 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

Together We Follow: Genesis 7

Last Thursday, we read Genesis 6. We saw how the world was filled with violence and how God was broken-hearted over the corruption and pain. We read about the one righteous man left on earth and God’s faithfulness to him. So that Noah would be rescued – so that humanity would be saved – God instructed him to build an ark.

Today, we move into chapter 7…this is the moment when the boat is finished and God is telling Noah that it’s time to board with his family because the waters will soon come.

But at the moment, my mind keeps going to the space between Chapter 6 and Chapter 7.

This is the time after God has given direction and before the work is done. These are the days, for Noah, of telling his family what God had said to him. These are the days of going out to collect supplies, to cut down trees, to gather and store food. This is day after day of getting out of bed and getting to work – without a rain drop falling to reassure him, Noah led his family in a massive and unprecedented mission.

It couldn’t have been easy. There must have been moments of doubt, of fear. There must have been days when it all felt like too much, like too hard of a thing to ever complete.

Every morning, he had to make the decision to trust God. And this trust wasn’t just a matter of the heart — every morning, he had to make the decision to act upon the foundation of that trust. With every plank put into place, every swipe of pitch, every stored vegetable, he was saying again – I believe You. I trust You.

Every morning, he had to put his faith in who he knew God to be – and no matter what anyone else was saying, no matter the obstacles, no matter the illogical appearance of his task — he kept moving forward. And at the end of the day, he had to rest in God’s sovereignty. He had to rest – find peace – in in his faith that God was with him. He staked everything – all he had, his family, his life’s work – in the promise of God.

And at the right time, Noah saw it with his own eyes: God is faithful. He does what He says He will do.

I think this is where we are on many days, in many ways. The time between planting and harvest can stretch out, sometimes farther than we can see, and the every-day tending is an act of trust, a life of faith.

When we are weary, when the job seems too hard, when everything feels like too much…we rest in who He is: the lifter of our heads, sufficient grace in our weakness, the One who strengthens our tired hands.

Every morning, we decide again that we will keep moving forward, we will obey, we will be faithful in all the small things. Every morning, we say again – I choose to trust You. Every day, we make the choice to live in a constant surrender, trusting in who He is, boldly staking everything we have in His promises.

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Genesis 7

When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous. Take with you seven pairs—male and female—of each animal I have approved for eating and for sacrifice, and take one pair of each of the others. Also take seven pairs of every kind of bird. There must be a male and a female in each pair to ensure that all life will survive on the earth after the flood. Seven days from now I will make the rains pour down on the earth. And it will rain for forty days and forty nights, until I have wiped from the earth all the living things I have created.”

So Noah did everything as the Lord commanded him.

Noah was 600 years old when the flood covered the earth. He went on board the boat to escape the flood—he and his wife and his sons and their wives. With them were all the various kinds of animals—those approved for eating and for sacrifice and those that were not—along with all the birds and the small animals that scurry along the ground. They entered the boat in pairs, male and female, just as God had commanded Noah. After seven days, the waters of the flood came and covered the earth.

When Noah was 600 years old, on the seventeenth day of the second month, all the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky. The rain continued to fall for forty days and forty nights.

That very day Noah had gone into the boat with his wife and his sons—Shem, Ham, and Japheth—and their wives. With them in the boat were pairs of every kind of animal—domestic and wild, large and small—along with birds of every kind. Two by two they came into the boat, representing every living thing that breathes. A male and female of each kind entered, just as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord closed the door behind them.

For forty days the floodwaters grew deeper, covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth. As the waters rose higher and higher above the ground, the boat floated safely on the surface. Finally, the water covered even the highest mountains on the earth, rising more than twenty-two feet above the highest peaks. All the living things on earth died—birds, domestic animals, wild animals, small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people. Everything that breathed and lived on dry land died. God wiped out every living thing on the earth—people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat.  And the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days.

Together We Follow: Genesis 4:2-16

 

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I went on my first run in about a week and a half today, easing back into my morning routine after being sick. Walking the path that I usually take around the neighborhood, I immediately noticed that some changes had come during my absence.

A thread of cool air, an unmistakable touch of autumn, was woven into the morning wind. My neighbor’s bright green grass was dotted with brown leaves. The trees standing at the edge of the woods were all green the last time I ran through — but today, they were spotted with yellow, orange, and red leaves.

The changing leaves have far from taken over – it was, probably, a subtle shift — but one that I noticed because I have been looking at these trees and these yards all summer long. Because I’ve been paying attention all along, I saw the signs of an approaching fall.

There’s a lot that can be taken from today’s reading, but it’s a simple message to my heart today.

God knew Cain. He had always known him. He could see his heart. He knew every motivation, every intention, every feeling. He knew what Cain’s heart had been created to be…and so He could see the signs of change. Maybe He saw jealousy marring the surface of Cain’s soul, bitterness beginning to grow. Perhaps it was anger or insecurity drying out Cain’s joy, his peace. However it looked — God knew Cain, and so He recognized when he was struggling…and He wanted to help him. He wanted an abundant and free life for him. So He gave this first son of Adam a warning and an encouragement.

But Cain didn’t listen.  Instead of subduing sin, he stretched out his hands and let the enemy take control of him, binding him with anger and violence.

 

And I wonder — how many times have I dismissed or ignored the voice of the Holy Spirit? How many times have I not given Him space and time to speak to me? How many times do I choose my own voice…or the voice of someone else…or, worst of all, the voice of the enemy?

Let us see the simple facts here — God knows us. He knows our hearts, what they can be in Him…and He sees every subtle shift, every little change in us as we live.

When He speaks to us — if it is warning, if it is encourage us, if it is to tell us our next step — oh, I pray that we will put aside our pride, our fear, our wish to control, our busy-ness, our anger  (whatever it may be!) to listen. He knows what we need — He knows when it is His living water that we require, His pruning hand, or His gentle healing. He knows when we need discipline. He knows how to help us defeat the schemes of the enemy. He knows when we need comfort. He is our Creator and our Father–His intentions for us are good.

He wants to help us.

We decide whether or not we will let Him.

Lord, soften our hearts. Open our ears. Help us to know Your voice…help us to know when it is You speaking to us. Let us be aware of Your presence and actively listening for Your words. You KNOW us — and You know exactly what we need. We are like Cain – we are marked by Your mercy, Lord. When our just end could have been death, You gave us life. We know that You broke the bondage of sin for us — and it isn’t our past sins that define us, but Your sacrifice. Help us to LIVE in that victory. Help us to remember that we are more than conquerors through Your love – we are no longer slaves to sin, to fear, to shame. Teach us to hear every word that You speak — and to not just hear, but obey, growing to be ever more like You. 

 Genesis 4:2b-16

When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground.

When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.

“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

 

One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

 

Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”

“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.”

Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment is too great for me to bear! You have banished me from the land and from your presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer. Anyone who finds me will kill me!”

The Lord replied, “No, for I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him.

So Cain left the Lord’s presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

 

 

The Power to Redeem…(Scripture&Song for the days when we need a reminder of our freedom & hope)

Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of His strength? ‘It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.’…in His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.”-Is. 63:1b,9b

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remember your sins no more.” -Is. 43:25

“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoiced in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness…” -Is.61 10

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! -2 Cor.5:17

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. -Eph.1:7

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.-Col.2:13-15

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.-Heb.4:16

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I hope in Him!”-Lam.3:21-24

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“…it was a testament to how God truly sets us free from everything that the enemy has in store for us. I love the idea that the enemy thinks that he is trapping us, but God in turn flips it on its head and says – ‘Actually, that’s gonna’ be the thing that I get the most glory from. That’s gonna’ be the thing that I redeem them from…even though we all have moments of regret or shame or failure…His love that He so lavished on us, His power has nailed all that to the tree. It’s done, it was finished at the cross and now we can walk in true redemption.” -Lauren Daigle*

*quoted from the Relevant Magazine podcast, discussing the inspiration behind ‘The Power to Redeem’

Music Monday: My Portion & My Strength

Dear friends,

It has been a day here. I’ve been debating whether or not I should talk about it – and I land on yes, because maybe…just maybe…you have had one of these days, too.

It hasn’t been an external battle but an in-the-heart kind of struggle…even while still being so grateful for everything in my life, I have felt unsettled today. I’ve run short on patience and frustration has come quickly, whether with our sometimes-working dishwasher, the apple juice I spilled all over the counter, or with my kids. I haven’t felt that internal peace that keeps me centered and focused…usually I try to stay present in the moment, my eyes on the long-term and not on the right this second situation…but today, the doing-things-but-not-getting-anything-done syndrome that sometimes plagues all of us is bringing me to the sit-in-the-floor-and-cry-while-pulling-my-hair-out syndrome. I have wavered between insecurity and fear, self-condemnation and regret. And, of course, since I know that I really have no reason to be out-of-sorts – and all of the things causing me irritation are truly inconsequential – I have felt guilty for all of the above short-comings. Which makes me feel worse. And brings on more of the waterworks.

It’s not a pretty cycle, y’all.

What do we do when we get caught up in a day like this? How do we stop the cycle?

The only way I know to find victory over the ‘I do what I don’t want to do and don’t do what I want to do’ battle that Paul describes in Romans 7 (which, honestly, he could have written specifically about me today) is by falling on our knees, God’s Word in our hands, our hearts yielding to His. When we are in trouble, we cannot delay coming to Him – we must throw up our hands and cry out for help!

Listen to what Paul says: What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

When our emotions try to master us, when we are weak and unprepared for the spiritual battles we face – we must call upon God, who gives us the victory through Jesus! Listen, it may be nearing the end of this Monday, but it is not time to throw in the towel on this day. You may have had a rough day, a rough weekend, a week or a month or a year that has tasted like defeat – but it is not too late to cry out to God. It is not too late to pick up that shield of faith, which will extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. It is not too late to ask Him to steady your feet with His gospel of peace, to wrap His truth around your life, to remind you that His righteousness makes your heart secure. It is not too late to wield your sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and is mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,  casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,  and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Cor. 10)

Do not close your eyes tonight without knowing that you are set free from sin and condemnation – no matter what your emotions say, no matter what accusations the enemy sends your way. What matters is what God says – and He says that you are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Rom.3:24) He says that therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the laws of sin and death. (Rom.8:1)

We can struggle and we can have hard days – but, friends, we cannot quit because Jesus has given us new life in Him! Paul’s words speak directly to my heart again in Philippians 3 – But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

I don’t know what you are going through. I don’t know if your body or your heart is broken, if you are fighting a battle of the mind and will or if there are people in your life causing you pain. I don’t know if it’s a circumstance you can’t change or a problem that feels impossible to solve.

But I do know this – we serve a God who is good, a God who is mighty in power. We serve a God abounding in mercy, great in His faithfulness. We serve a God to whom nothing is too hard and not even one single thing is impossible. We serve a God who equips us to stand firm against the power of darkness, sin, and the enemy, every single day. We serve a God who cares about our struggles. He comes alongside us and empowers us through His Holy Spirit – He gives us peace that surpasses understanding and the fullness of His joy…joy that can’t be taken away, joy that gives us strength.

And through it all – through it all – (even when we feel most unloveable) nothing separates us from His love.

Listen, after this day of feeling (I’m borrowing Paul’s word here) just wretched inside of this heart and head, it is the pure gift of grace that still meets me when I fall on my face before my Father…and His grace will meet you, too, wherever you are.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one.

Christ Jesus who died – more than that – who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. {Don’t miss that wonder-full truth – our Savior, on these hardest of days, is praying for us!}

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8:31-39)

Oh, may this truth be our hope and our confidence! May this be the joy that refreshes and renews us, that sets our feet dancing to the rhythm of His heart-beat. Our victory does not depend on us – but in whom we place our trust – the Savior who has overcome the world, the Lamb of God – Jesus – who has taken away our sin and defeated death, hell, and the grave!

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

The morning comes with new mercy. Let’s run on, friends.

Love,

Christie