An Empty Cup

We can’t pour from an empty cup. So… why do we try to live like we can? Not enough sleep. Not eating foods that fuel us. Dehydration. Physically, those signs begin to tell on us pretty quickly. Cranky. Fatigued.

When we don’t intentionally put our spiritual cup under the spout of the Holy Spirit…we may get away with that for a while…but an empty cup will catch up with us. And chaos ensues.

Jesus knew that pushing away from the crowd, taking some time alone to pray, was imperative. And He set an example for us to know how important it really is. Luke 4:42 (NLT) tells us, “Early the next morning Jesus went out to an isolated place. The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them.”

Whether you’re a mom with little kids that find you even when you’re trying to find a few moments of quiet in your bathroom or you’ve got a crew of team mates at work looking to you to keep things moving in the right direction….the world needs what you have to give. You just can’t give it if your cup is empty.

Being intentional about getting alone with God to refill our cup every day is a necessity. The good news is…the Living Water will never run dry. We can hold our cup up to the Lord every single day and it’s His delight to fill it up!

The Gift of Rest

‘I will give you rest.’ I kept hearing that over and over while I was laying in the hospital bed. That promise that Jesus spoke in Matthew 11:28 was the verse that God whispered to me at the beginning of this year when I learned that my word for this year was going to be ‘REST’. He’s been teaching me a lot about rest this year but this particular lesson has been a difficult one for me.

More sick than I’ve ever been in my life, I found myself unable to focus on anything but the fight to survive. Prayers were short but frequent. Different Bible verses that have been embedded in my memory would come to my mind and became part of my ongoing conversations with God. Thank You Lord that Your name is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and are safe. Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of the heavens and the earth.

And this one…Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened…and I will give you rest. Weary? Definitely. Heavy burdened? Absolutely! And the exchange Jesus offers? To bring it all to Him for the gift … of rest. Rest doesn’t always feel like a gift. But when you find yourself so weary you can hardly move, carrying so much you can hardly think straight, rest is a most beautiful gift.

And rest doesn’t come unaccompanied. Rest comes with peace, with healing, with the companionship of Christ. And so much more. Rest for your soul brings wholeness and that is something Jesus longs to give us.

Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

If you have ever flown in a commercial airplane you know that part of the emergency preparedness instructions from flight attendants is that if cabin pressure should change, an oxygen mask will drop down in front of you – and you must put your oxygen mask on first. Then assist others around you. It seems counter intuitive – especially if you are a parent traveling with a small child. You would instinctively want to put your life on the line to save your child and put their mask on first, right?

The truth is we can not save anyone if we don’t take care of ourselves, first. Just as putting our own oxygen mask on first enables us to be able to help others put their masks on – we must be filling up own own mind, spirit & soul with God’s Word & time in His presence – before we can share it with others around us.

The only thing that will be in heaven that we are able to take with us are the people that we helped in some way to find Christ. Maybe that is why Jesus began His teaching on the mountainside in Matthew 5 with this instruction: “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” When we realize we are nothing without him and we begin to breathe in Christ, we are able to help others to do the same. In the spirit realm, Jesus Christ, is our oxygen. Without Him, there is no life. And how amazing it will be to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and find ourselves surrounded by those who helped us to come to Christ along with those we helped as well.

What if we began each morning by putting on our oxygen mask, breathing in Jesus into every fibre of our being, so that we are ready and able to help assist others in breathing Him in as well?!

And That’s THE Truth

The truth will set you free. Probably one of the most misquoted scriptures in the whole Bible. Because many times it’s spoken totally out of context. We hear it in movies and television shows, in conversations about a variety of things.

Jesus Himself spoke these words and in the context that He was speaking these words He meant it specifically about THE truth. Remember that Jesus said, “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” in John 14:6?!

There is ONE truth. With that in mind, hear what Jesus spoke in John 8:32 from The Message: “Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.””

The only way to live out what Jesus tells us is by reading and knowing His Word. His Word IS Truth. And we have this promise from Him that when we live out what He tells us…we are His…and His truth will set us free! What a beautiful promise to count on!

Unparalleled

There is no life parallel or equal that could compare to the grace and mercy that God has freely given to every person. When I think about Romans 3:25 I cannot think of a single thing that could adequately describe the enormous, exceptional gift that God was willing to give us.

This is what He did: “For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past.” (NLT)

What is left to us is to choose to receive His gift. If you’ve already chosen God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, this is a moment to celebrate and give thanks! If you haven’t, there is good news! Today is the day of salvation! Just pray this prayer: Dear Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins and rising again so that I can live forever with you. I invite you to live in my heart and make me new. In Your name I pray. Amen.

The priceless cost of this gift was paid with the blood of Jesus. The generosity of the gift was given by God. The simplicity of the gift is for us…to believe and receive. And that truly is unparalleled.

Refreshment

This past weekend my family and I went to an outdoor event that we had been planning to attend for several months. We were so excited to go! Until we heard how HOT it was going to be. To be completely honest, if we hadn’t already bought tickets to go, we probably would not have gone. But we committed to participate. We bought the tickets. And so we went. The heat was brutal. But the show was spectacular!! And we made memories that day that we will remember LONG after the sunburn has gone away.

It’s a little bit like life. We’re committed. We don’t always get the luxury of a heat index warning. Sometimes we are thrown into the fire and it is brutal! But on the other side of the spectrum life is also beautiful. Spectacular even! All of it…together…God uses in His plan for our lives. And He is more aware than even we are, how brutal, heated, and devastating some days are for us. And how much we need to be rejuvenated.

In Psalm 23:3, “He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.” Last Saturday, nothing felt better than a cold glass of water and a complete hot shower when I got home. I felt like a new person! And there are things we go through in life that can only be redeemed in our lives by the refreshing that only God can bring. The Living Bible paraphrases Psalm 23:3 this way, “He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors him the most.”

Sometimes life is hard. But trying to escape or ignore it can keep us from the incredible refreshing that God has waiting for us. Today I am grateful that God refreshes our souls. He gives us new strength. And He will help us do what honors Him the most!

Tyranny of the Urgent

My To Do List often contains things that I do every day. Some are work related and some are personal. I know that I’m going to need to do them and I would do them without a reminder. But, I put them on the list partly for the satisfaction of checking them off and mostly for the reminder that they are important, even necessary. Because some days get crazy. Things happen. We get pulled in a LOT of directions.

In the 1960’s, a guy named Charles Hummel wrote a booklet called ‘The Tyranny of the Urgent’. It is all about what is important and what is urgent. There is a tension in each day of our lives between the important things that need to be done and the urgent matters that crop up and scream for our attention and our immediate action. Often, the important things get overlooked for the emergencies. And not all of these emergencies are true emergencies! Oh they may be urgent matters but not always meant to be MY urgent matters. Knowing the difference and how to manage them in our lives requires prayer for wisdom and discernment from God.

I’m wondering what could be different in our lives if we put a few declarations from God’s Word on our To Do list…not because they are tasks…but to serve as reminders of the IMPORTANT things in our day…so that they are not squeezed out by the urgent.

Here’s an example, what if we put Psalm 59:16 at the top of our to-do list for today? “I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” Today I WILL sing because You love me, God. Your strength and Your love are a fortress where I can feel safe and when I encounter trouble TODAY…I will take refuge in YOU. Now THAT is something to sing about!! And putting that high on our list of important things to focus on will help prepare us for truly urgent matters.

God-Breathed

There aren’t too many sounds more beautiful than those first breaths, usually followed by the crying, of a newborn. Having the honor and privilege of carrying and giving birth to two beautiful babies, the emotion and overwhelming joy I experienced in those moments after they were born, make it difficult to put into words.

When we read in Genesis 2 that God formed Adam out of the dust, and then breathed life into him, I wonder what He felt at that moment?! The emotion and overwhelming joy He must have experienced. The breath of God. It is life giving. Powerful enough to turn the dust of the earth into a living, breathing-on-his-own, human being with great purpose and potential with a spirit and soul that will live forever. So incredible!

2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” There it is again. The breath of God. The written word of God, written by men, inspired by God’s Holy Spirit as He breathed into the Word giving it the power to teach us, rebuke and correct us, and train us to live with purpose and as He called us to live. His breath brought Scripture to life!

Have you ever noticed how the same passage of God’s Word can move you or speak to you in a different way each time you read it?! That’s because it’s alive! We find comfort, direction, warning and renewal and so much more in the pages of the Bible. Let’s make sure we spend some time in it today!

There Is Only One

Sometimes in a relationship we need a mediator. We need someone willing to listen and encourage both parties to walk through some tough things and try to see each other’s view and work to find common ground. Sometimes it helps and sometimes relationships are so broken it may be impossible to heal on our own.

Our relationship with God was broken. Way back in the Garden of Eden when God created Adam and Eve Genesis 3:8 tells us, “He walked in the garden in the cool of the day”…He must have done it often for them to hear the sound of it and know it was Him. Can you imagine what that must have been like? And then, sin entered the picture and the entire Old Testament is filled with man’s struggle to find a way back to God.

Mankind needed a mediator. And there was just One who could do it. Jesus. Fully God and fully man. Jesus was the only one who could bring restoration to us. In 1 Timothy 2:5 (CEV), “There is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us.”

He didn’t want heaven without us. And so Jesus became the Mediator, the bridge, between us and God. There is only one way…His name is Jesus.

Under Pressure

When I visited the Dominican Republic a couple of years ago, I met a street vendor who was selling jewelry that had the prettiest blue stones in them. The stone is called Larimar or blue pectolite and is an extremely rare gemstone. It has been found only in one location: a mountainous, relatively inaccessible area in the Dominican Republic.

I picked out a few pieces to bring home as gifts and as he was wrapping them for me he handed me a piece of dull brownish stone that had just a bit of blue showing and said…’that is what it looks like before it is ground and polished’. The difference between them was stunning. Without the grinding and polishing that stone looked unremarkable and of little value.

I am reminded of the process of life we go through when we are tested. Every test gives us opportunity to allow our faith to go through the grinding and polishing. It is how we learn the faithfulness and goodness of God. It is what gives us opportunity to choose faith over fear and sometimes without even realizing it our faith in God becomes a beautiful reminder to others that they can trust in Him too.

James 1:3 from The Message tells us this: “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.”

Only God knows what lies beneath the rough, muted exterior of our heart. Trusting the Master’s hand at grinding and polishing with just the right amount of pressure will produce the most glorious colors. And the end result will be worth it!