Tag Archives: Christ

THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL

Because He Lives!!

Heaven touches us and stays in our hearts the moment we truly realize what Christ has done for us on the cross. We do not have to wait until after we leave our earthly bodies to begin experiencing Christ’s eternal gifts. Eternity begins when we surrender to Christ and allow Him to turn the hard things of life into something amazingly beautiful.

Yesterday, as I was strolling through Gibbs Gardens with my friend who recently lost her beloved mom, I thought of the anchor we have in Christ. The stunning beauty in the gardens reminded me of Christ and His redemptive love. There was an overwhelming sense of Christ’s resurrection power as I gazed at the splendor of the Japanese maple trees.

Japanese Garden at Gibbs Gardens

Christ died an agonizing death so that we can live abundantly, free of condemnation and guilt. He died so that we can live in a heavenly state of mind with eternal peace through every trial and loss. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.”

Christ’s love is all we need to make it through this life victoriously.

Christ’s gift of love restores us and heals us. His love is the balm to the oozing wounds in our souls after a loved one passes on. His love restores hurting relationships and rebuilds broken lives. Christ makes even the hardest days remarkable, simply because He is with us.

Whatever you are going through at this moment, be encouraged and know that it is not too big for Christ. The same power that raised Jesus back to life will resurrect you and your situation as you turn to Him and have faith.

Our constant pursuit of Christ and our surrendered prayers move the Lord’s heart to work powerfully on our behalf. Our relinquished lives open the door to God’s glory and the heavenly realm overcomes the darkness around us.

Once we have tasted of Christ’s glory, there is no dark force that can defeat us or bring us down. He is life. He is everything. His love is the greatest gift of all.

Beloved Jesus,

We adore You and we are in awe of the sacrifice You made for us. Thank You for paying the penalty for all of our sins. Thank You for giving Your life so that we can live freely and eternally. Help us to receive all the gifts You have for our lives and help us to live as recipients of Your amazing grace every day. Help us to share Your love with those around us and invite others into a life-giving relationship with You. We love You with all our hearts and we pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

Grace and peace to you,

Amy

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I hope you enjoy this powerful song by Elevation Worship. Shout out to our King!

 

KEEPING FOCUSED ON THE THINGS THAT MATTER MOST

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After spending too much time reading articles about do-it-yourself projects, a thought came bursting into my head: “I’m done! I’m done with wasting time on trivial things.” A zealous determination rose up in my spirit like I’ve never had before.

In the previous months, I had spent so much of my time on repainting walls and restoring furniture instead of working on the things I knew God desired for me to do.

Creating beauty in my home and inviting people over for meals are two of my greatest passions. Creating a pretty home is not a bad thing, but it can be a burdensome thing if it begins stealing my focus away from eternal things.

Over and over again, the Lord has reminded me of the words in James 4:14: “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

In the blink of an eye, our time of passing through this earth is over. Do I really want to be known for being the “Home Project Expert” when I’m gone? No. I want to be remembered mainly for the love and encouragement I’ve sewn into lives.

How do we stay focused on eternal things when there are so many mundane things tugging at our minds? I think we sometimes need to reassess our priorities. That’s what I had to do. I had to stop reading decorating blogs and stop watching decorating shows. Those things were just feeding my desire to do more projects.

To be completely clear, I’m not saying I will never do another project around my house. I’m sure I will tackle a home project again in the future, but I’ve chosen not to make it a high priority.

After resetting my priorities, I don’t feel the pressure to rip down the bathroom wallpaper that’s nearly two decades old. One hundred years from now, whether or not I updated my bathroom will not matter.

Our relationships with people and with Christ will matter eternally. The time we spend seeking to find God’s assignments for each of our lives and the time spent helping others will be what lasts forever.

What new thing is Christ calling you to do that will have an eternal impact? Are you called to work with elderly people, start a ministry for foster children, or use your gift of music to uplift people?

Will you join me in seeking wholeheartedly to know Christ’s heart better and go passionately after the things that will have an eternal impact? Whatever it is any of us are called to do, Christ will give us faith and help us to stay focused on what matters most as we keep our eyes focused fully upon Him.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.” Hebrews 12:2

BE STILL AND TRUST CHRIST

THE LORD WILL FIGHT FOR YOU

It was nineteen years ago when I hit rock bottom and needed Christ to pull me out of a pit of doubt. With many questions in my heart about God’s goodness, my faith began growing strong again as my family prayed for me and friends encouraged me not to lose hope.

In March of 1997 while we were at church, a friend of ours approached Michael and shared a Scripture with us. He told us to read Exodus 14:14. I wrote the words in my journal: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

From that dark season in my life, I began a quest to really understand what it means to be still and trust God.

Through my journey and over two decades of discovering how to trust Christ, my prayers changed from pitiful petitions to a confidence in the God of the universe to guide me and fight for me. I learned to be still and listen for God’s voice in my heart.

It was in the listening and stillness that I began to hear the voice of God guiding me and leading me to the abundant life that Christ promises (John 10:10).

In my younger years, my own stubbornness and inability to discern God’s voice led to so much heartache in my life. It was not God’s fault. It was my own responsibility for not seeking to know and hear God better.

John 10:27 says: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He guides those who will listen for His voice.

Once I began hearing God clearly in my spirit, everything in my life turned around. With my renewed faith, I began praying bold prayers not only for myself, but for my loved ones and for the entire world.

It’s obvious this world is in great need of Christ’s healing power. The recent tragedies in Orlando, Germany, Turkey, and the horrific things that have been happening right here in my community are heartbreaking. However, I refuse to let these tragedies deflate my faith.

Are you in the midst of a painful battle? My heart is filled with compassion for you and I have been praying passionately for the prayer requests that have been flooding my inbox.

No matter what you are facing today, it’s not too big for God. Be still and let Christ do the fighting for you. Place your faith in the One who has the power to heal and restore.

Father,

I am in awe of Your goodness. Thank You for Your healing love. Please strengthen all those who are in the midst of hard battles. Let them be still and trust You to fight for them. Let them know You are a good Father and You have good plans for their lives. Strengthen them today and let them feel Your presence strongly while they wait for a miracle to unfold. I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Will you come to the altar and release your problems to Jesus?

 

THE GIFT OF STILLNESS

Be still, and know that I am GOD.

Years ago during a very difficult season of my life, I remember praying desperately for God’s intervention. There were intense circumstances surrounding me that drove me to the throne of God.

In the midst of that difficult season, I read the scriptures in Psalm 46.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolation he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

After reading the 46th Psalm, the tenth verse practically jumped off the page.

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

As I focused on those eight words, I knew that the Lord was speaking directly to me through Psalm 46:10. At the time, my circumstances seemed impossible to overcome, but I clung to the hope found in Christ.

Through the trials of life, I learned about the gift of stillness. From that low point, I discovered that God’s presence is the greatest treasure of all, and prayer became the key component of my life. My circumstances did not change instantly. In fact, it took over a decade for me to see permanent change in my life.

Step by step, Christ restored my broken life and turned it into something beautiful. It was a long process, kind of like creating a magnificent work of art. In most cases, beautiful art cannot be produced instantly. Real beauty is created through a process.

Are you waiting for God to turn something bad into something beautiful?  Keep pressing forward in faith and draw near to God.

Be still, and know that Christ will bring beauty into the broken places of your life.

As you wait on God, I pray that you will savor the gift of stillness every day.

REVELING IN THE BEAUTY OF THE CROSS

It is finished.

The beauty of the springtime flowers is breathtaking. Every year, as the wintertime barrenness is overtaken by new life, it simply amazes me.

This year in Georgia, it seemed as though the change was instant. I don’t recall another time when the seasons have changed so abruptly.

During my jogs, I noticed the flowers peaking through the dirt and the plants that were lying dormant were showing signs of life even before the weather changed. The plants and flowers were obviously ready and waiting to come alive as soon as the first sign of warmth emerged in the atmosphere.

As I’ve been reflecting on the emerging beauty of the new season, it made me think of the resurrection of Christ and His power to resurrect life out of the barren places in our souls.

As quickly as the seasons change—the condition of our hearts change when we turn away from those things that deaden our spirits (see Ephesians 4: 22-24). 

In my past, there were yucky things—bitterness, fear, pride, self-righteousness, and on and on the list goes—embedded in my heart, and they were keeping me from experiencing a beautiful, new life in Christ. The day I realized how simple it is to live fully alive and free in Christ, I received a new heart and never looked back to the past.

Christ died an agonizing death so that we can live abundantly and free from all the things that weigh us down. When we stumble, we can simply pray, Lord, please forgive me for that mistake. Then the Lord embraces us in our brokenness, and His reply is always filled with love…I imagine Him saying, “Yes, beloved one, you are forgiven for every mistake you’ve ever made and every mistake you’ll ever make in the future. Rise up and live with no regrets, and let Me help you walk in the Spirit, free from the grips of sin and shame and doubt and all things that burden your soul.”

 Jesus said, “It is finished.” We do not ever have to agonize over our failures or mistakes again.

Are you living in the finished work of the cross? Are you living abundantly in Christ?

My prayer this Easter week is that you will breathe in the loveliness of the springtime flowers and revel in the beauty of Christ’s magnificent gift to mankind.

THE BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT

LIGHT FROM THE LORD

I was gazing out the window noticing the winter weather as I was writing notes on Christmas cards. The wintry day caught my attention with the bareness of the trees and lack of sunlight. It was noticeably monotone and drab in my back yard where it is usually vibrant with life and color.

I noticed the stark contrast between the drabness outside and the joy and brightness in my soul. As I pondered that distinct difference, words began flooding into my spirit. The thoughts of the wintry day reminded me of what life would be like without Christ.

Apart from Christ, we would be destined for a wintry life.

As we celebrate Christ’s birth this week, let us all remember why He was born. He came to give new life.

His love is a gift that breaks into the dark places of the soul and brings forth light. He strengthens us when we’re weak. He fills us with love when we’re loveless. He soothes our sorrows when we’re mourning. He heals the heart when it’s broken. He restores the broken things and makes beauty out of our mistakes.

He is the redeemer of every painful trial we’ll ever face.

God brought forth Christ the Messiah for all people, so that we could live abundantly in hope and peace no matter how dark it becomes in the world. His light overcomes all darkness. The love of Christ is the best Christmas gift we’ll ever receive.

Lord Jesus,

Let us be keenly aware of Your love and light this Christmas. Let us rejoice over the gifts You have given us through a loving relationship with You. Amen.

 “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” —Ephesians 5:8

DANCING IN THE RAIN

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The rain would start pouring down hard and my children would be energetically bouncing with joy.  Their little voices would beg me to let them go outside. “Mommy, if there’s no thunder, can we go out in the rain?”

I would stand at the door and watch them jump around and dance in the rain. It was full living at its best as they splashed in the puddles. Sometimes they would dance, or they would make a tent of umbrellas on the driveway. Sometimes they would simply stand in the rain on the edge of the street feeling the rush of water flowing between their toes.

The rain didn’t stop them from simply enjoying the day.

Children hold the key to a happy life. They are innocent in their thinking, and they know how to enjoy life to the fullest instinctively. A downpour of rain doesn’t hinder a child’s ability to embrace the moment and live fully.

This is how our Father in heaven wants us to live out our lives. When He created us He never intended for us to grudgingly endure life. His original idea was for us to see Him in the midst of the rain showers and enjoy life to the fullest.

God knew life wouldn’t be perfect or easy. I believe His greatest desire is for us to rely on Him in the midst of the rainy days. When we’re dependent upon Him, He continually pours out His grace and love onto our lives in the most unimaginable ways.

Years ago while praying, I heard words in my spirit that changed my perspective.

If you stay on the path with Me, you will not be disappointed.” God whispered those life-giving words to my heart.

At first I was thinking, “How can that be possible?” But I soon understood what the Lord was trying to get me to understand. He wanted me to know that if I followed Him and stayed close to His heart, He would turn my mourning into dancing instantaneously in the midst of disappointing circumstances.

His words have proved to be true in my life. I can honestly say—because I have been so wrapped up in God’s love—that disappointment has not lingered in my heart, nor has anything been able to rob me of my joy during the latter years of my life. Not any setback or loss or shattered dream can take away the joy that comes from Christ. His joy is eternal. When we have Him—we have everything.

Life is full of difficulties and challenges for everyone. No matter how much a person tries to put on a facade, nobody’s life is perfect. No human is immune to pain. Pain is not our enemy when Jesus is the center of our lives. His love overshadows everything and we can fellowship in His sufferings (Philippians 3:10).

My grandmother Mimi lived fully alive until she passed away at ninety-five years old. She had every reason to be bitter and unhappy. Her six-year-old brother died in an accident when she was a young girl and her father died when she was a young teen, leaving her in a state of poverty with a mother who wasn’t very affectionate.  Yet she danced in the rain.

My friend and mentor Bonnie had a gift for expressing what it means to live fully. She said, “With Christ, there are no disappointments. The challenges in life are HIS-appointments.” Bonnie passed away in 2008. Her faith in Christ lives on in my heart.

Leaning on our own strength leads to more disappointment. It’s when we lean on Jesus that we see His glory in our lives.

Life is undeniably hard. Every day we have a choice. We can either focus on the troubles in our lives or look toward Christ and live in His presence and glory. Why not choose the latter and see God’s Glory in your life? Choose joy. Choose life.

When the rain pours down, choose to turn toward Jesus and dance!

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” — Psalm 30:11 (NAS Bible)

“Children of Zion, celebrate! Be glad in your God. He’s giving you a teacher to train you how to live right—Teaching, like rain out of heaven, showers of words to refresh and nourish your soul, just as He used to do.”

Joel 2:23 (The Message)

This article has been revised from a piece originally written in March, 2008.

The photo was downloaded at istockphoto.com.

CHOOSING TO WALK IN THE LIGHT

Walking in the Light

With a forlorn tone in my voice, I told my mother, “Nobody understands.” I was venting to my mom about how hard things were in my life at the time. My mom in her wise and loving way, said, “You’re right, nobody does understand, and they never will. Jesus understands though. And He is the only One who will ever be able to fully understand what you’re feeling and what you’re going through.”

It was years ago that my mom’s words helped to jolt me out of my big pity party. It was a defining moment for me that helped to change the course of my thinking. Mama’s words were etched in my heart permanently as a reminder of how Jesus is the only One who can satisfy the longings of the human soul.

During the darkest season of my life, seventeen years ago, I made a choice to walk away from the things and thoughts that were keeping me from living and walking in the light.

Feeling sorry for myself was a snare in my life that was robbing me of the abundance I was longing for. Self-pity is such a destructive, life-stealing, ugly force that steals beautiful moments of abundant living from anybody who falls prey to it.

As we read in John 16: 33, Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

When we embrace the fact that Jesus can help us overcome anything and make a conscious decision to focus on His love and not on our difficult situations, then amazingly our problems begin getting solved in the most supernatural ways. That’s exactly what happened in my life.

I was in a pit in 1997, and it was a living hell for me. After my family and my special friend Bonnie encouraged me to keep seeking the Lord, I took a hundred and eighty degree turn from my self-destructive thought patterns and chose to pray boldly for help from God. On the days I could barely get out of bed, I would turn on my Larnelle Harris C.D. and listen to his song, “I Choose Joy” over and over and over and over until joy came bursting out of my soul.

Once I began taking every thought captive and meditating on the truths of the Bible, then my spirit felt renewed, I began living in peace, and miracles began coming forth.

Transformation begins with us turning away from negativity and taking a step toward Christ. God doesn’t just snatch us out of the darkness. He says if we seek Him with all our hearts, then we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

Are you feeling the darkness closing in on you? If so, I pray that you will begin today to seek God with every fiber of your being. As you are steadfast in your pursuit of Christ, the light will overcome the darkness in your life.

Be encouraged. Jesus has overcome the world!

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7 (ESV)

 

A NEW SONG

grandfather and grandson with cloud

It was during the early morning hours. I felt weak and restless as I was facing a challenge in my life that seemed impossible to overcome.

With tears rolling down my cheeks, I bowed down at the feet of the Father. I cried out for strength. I prayed, “Father, the obstacles on the path laid out for me feel too big.” His warm embrace enveloped my heart as His love washed over me. His Spirit soothed my soul and the sweetness of His presence encircled every ounce of my being. His words flooded into my spirit.

 “Child, nothing is too big for Me. I’ll never ask you to do more than I created you for. Rest in Me. Rest in My love, rest in knowing there is nothing I’ll ask of you that will ever be too big. My grace is sufficient for you. In your weakness, My strength is made perfect. Arise my child. Let me put a new song in your heart. Let My love lift you up and carry you.”

As His loving words permeated my heart, my soul was restored in an instant. He breathed new life into my spirit and strengthened me. Joy replaced the tears. Peace covered me and made me ready to begin a new day with a new song in my heart—a song of joy for celebrating the love I had found in my Father’s arms.

With the love of God, and His strength—life is made beautiful. He carries those who completely depend on Him.

Lord, 

I lift up each one reading this prayer. Surround her with Your peace and give her a new song in her heart today—a song of joy and a song of hope for all the great things You have in store. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

— Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

 “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God”

— Psalm 40:3 (NIV)

 This post has been revised and edited from a piece I wrote in 2009.

THE PURPOSE OF PAIN

ThePurposeOfPainEdit

On a day of volunteering at a ministry that provides food to people in need, I was able to see clearly how God uses pain in our lives. As I stood next to a table that had a variety of delicious foods, I picked up a pie and handed it to a sweet, young mom. Tears came streaming down her face as she saw the abundance of food we were giving her family. The pie seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, or to put it in better words: It was the pie that touched the mother’s heart. She was obviously deeply touched by the generosity of God through this ministry.

Through her tears, she began telling me that her small children had been without enough food to fill their tummies the previous week. While she was sharing her heart, I was overcome with weepy emotionsWith tears rolling down my cheeks, I embraced her tightly. Her story was taking my mind back to the time when I was experiencing a difficult circumstance similar to hers.

As I remembered my pain, I told her, “It will get better with God’s help; I promise.”

Memories flooded my mind as I hugged her. I thought about the years my husband’s home-based business was struggling and he delivered pizza for less than $7.00 an hour while I was home-schooling our children and working part-time. As I listened to her painful story, I remembered the day when our refrigerator was almost empty and my daughter asked me, “Are we going to starve, Mommy?”

Join me over at DaySpring’s (in)courage site to read the rest of the story. I’m super excited to be a guest contributor to one of the best women’s ministry websites online.