Return and Remember

1 Samuel‬ ‭7:12 ~ NIrV
“Then Samuel got a big stone. He set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer. He said, “The Lord has helped us every step of the way.””‬‬
 
This is one of my favorite verses! So, here’s one of the cool things about Ebenezer, for generations to come, when the Israelites would pass by that stone they would tell their children and grandchildren about the goodness and faithfulness of God. They would hand down these stories of our mighty God from generation to generation like the most priceless of heirlooms. Man, that gets me excited just thinking about it!
 
Can you imagine how cool it would have been for those kids growing up in Israel? They knew God was good because they were always seeing these monuments and reminders of how God had saved and delivered their family.
 
I think we need to do a better job of remembering and reminding ourselves of God’s faithfulness. In the dark times, it is important to remember the light times so we don’t get lost in a swirl thinking that all we will ever see is darkness. A great way to do that is to start a journal. Even if you only write when things are good, you will have a much better chance of remembering them when the darkness comes.
 
The more we focus on God’s goodness, the more of it we will see. As we watch for God – even in everyday, mundane life – we will begin to see Him more and more. And the more we see Him, the more grateful to Him we will become; nothing attracts the Presence of God like thankfulness.
 
I am sending LionHearted love to all of you! You are beautiful and wonderful, shine bright friends!!
 
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Rest

Psalms ‭23:2 ~ NLT
“He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.”‬‬
 
I am going to be very honest with you guys, for the past couple of weeks, I have been hardcore struggling with burnout. Parts of ministry that used to fill my life with joy felt like chores and mere obligations. The problem was not the work itself, or even my attitude about it. The problem was, I wasn’t taking the time I needed to rest and I was completely exhausting myself.
 
Rest is an essential part of our lives. Even in the Bible, Jesus made sure to rest and He taught His disciples to do the same thing. In Mark 6, after the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus’ disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. I’ve always thought that was significant. After the crowds had dispersed and everyone had gone home, the disciples still had to eat.
 
Jesus is always very intentional about taking care of every need we have. In our lives, Jesus is willing and able to provide provision for us, but we have to be willing to be still enough to listen and receive.
 
Rest looks different to everyone, just because someone you know rests a certain way, that doesn’t negate the way you rest. Some people “rest” in a very literal sense, a nap may be the best thing for them. Others “rest” by doing a physical activity like going for a run or a stroll through a nature area. Personally, I rest by putting on my favorite music, closing my eyes, and letting God use the words and melodies to speak to me. The way you rest doesn’t really matter, the only thing that matters is that you make sure you are resting.
 
You might be surprised by how much change you see from a little bit of rest. Even if your schedule doesn’t allow for you to rest for hours every day, even a few minutes can change your whole outlook.
 
I’m sending LionHearted love to all of you! Keep living your life in God’s Love, you’re amazing!

Ambassadors of Jesus

Colossians‬ ‭3:23‬‬ ~ CEB
“Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people.”
I have a game on my phone called Good Pizza, Great Pizza. It is highly addictive and I don’t recommend getting it unless you have extreme levels of self-control because it just kinda sucks you in and keeps you there for hours! The app was recently updated and new features were installed – I know this sounds like an app review, stick with me – one of these was a google review type area where the customers of the game could rate your pizza. When they post a review, the customers also upload a picture of the pizza you made for them. Some of the negative review-earning pizzas are absolutely cringe-worthy.
As a way of getting larger tips, thus increasing the income of the entire business, I have begun looking at each pizza before serving it and asking myself “Am I okay with this pizza representing my business?” If not, I will fix the problem, or redo the entire order.
As Christians, our lives should be the ‘’google review’’ of God’s work in our lives. Our actions, our words, and even our thoughts – to some degree – should serve as a testimony to who God is and how He works. Before we do or say anything, we should take a moment to consider, am I okay with this representing my King?
We are ambassadors of His goodness on the earth. People cannot see God, but they should be able to see God in us. If people aren’t able to experience the God we serve, how are they going to want what we have?
If you are doing or saying things that are poor representations of Jesus, there are probably some changes that are in order. Here’s the good news, if we are willing to change the way we do life, we’ve already taken the first step and God will meet us in the middle.
I want to challenge all of you today, take a good look at the things you allow to fill your mind, your mouth, and *movements. If it represents Jesus well, AWESOME!! If not, find out what you need to do to adjust it, and DO IT!
*I’m super proud of myself for finding another M. I love alliteration to make my points, but sometimes it’s a STRUGGLE.

Stay Seeking

Psalm 27:8 ~ ESV
“You have said, “Seek My face.” My heart says to You, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.””
If Passionate Pursuit had a theme verse, I could see this being it. This should be the message of our hearts, the message of our lives. That we hear the voice of God telling us to seek Him and pursue Him, and our hearts respond with a definitive, wholehearted yes. That’s all God wants, He wants us to say yes. He doesn’t want us to be perfect, that would be an impossible expectation. God sent Jesus to be perfect so we don’t have to anymore. It isn’t about perfection, it’s about desire. My dad says, “Your desire to please Him, pleases Him.” It’s that simple. Are you trying to please God? Then you are winning! You don’t have to impress Him! That’s never been the goal.
 
God isn’t impressed by our striving. He isn’t impressed when we exhaust ourselves trying to prove ourselves worthy of His love. He chose you! That makes you worthy! You don’t have to earn it or impress Him. As long as you are saying “yes”, as long as you are seeking Him with your whole heart, it doesn’t matter if it is ”perfect”. We can’t bridge the gap between heaven and earth by ourselves, we could never get there. But when God sees His kids reaching out to Him, He reaches right back and life as we know it is never the same because one person decided to seek Him with everything.
 
Life isn’t about becoming perfect, it’s about becoming more like God. It’s about, little by little, stepping out of our comfort zones. To live for the extraordinary rather than settling for mediocrity. It’s about chasing God with everything you have, no matter what it looks like. You don’t have to wait to have all your ducks in a row to chase after God. I don’t have my ducks in a row, (I may even have lost some around here somewhere) but I’m still chasing God. There is going to be a point when you have to decide that you want a relationship over a religion. If you are living in religion, you’ll never feel ready, and you won’t be. But if you choose a real relationship with Jesus, the living God who desperately wants to love you, you’ll never wish for anything else. I will warn you though, following Jesus will completely ruin you for the ordinary. You’ll want to see God show up and do awesome things in everyday life. It may get to the point that you expect God to show up in normal circumstances, and the cool thing is, He will. When you seek after God like He seeks you, awesome things start to happen, so you’d better be ready.

Placed with Princes

1 Samuel 2:8 ~ NKJV
“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and makes them inherit the throne of glory.”
 
What a great God we serve! This is the message of the gospel. This is why in the midst of any circumstances we can have hope and peace. If it weren’t for Jesus, who knows where any of us would be, but by the grace of God we aren’t living that way anymore. We serve a God who is big into redemption and restoration. When we give our lives over to Jesus and say yes to His plan, He brings us out of the mud we had chosen to stay in and brings us into his Kingdom. We get to spend eternity with Jesus because He chose to love us when we were at our most unlovable.
 
There is nothing too dirty or too broken for God to redeem it. At some point in your life, you have probably done things that you now wish you hadn’t. Good news! So has everybody else – ever. The question isn’t whether you made mistakes because you have – it’s part of life – the question is whether you allow God to use those mistakes. Are you going to let God use your story to bring you and everyone around you closer to Him or are you going to let it separate you? No matter what you’ve done or where you have been, God can redeem and restore everything to the way He meant you to be. If you let Him, God will use everything you’ve experienced for His glory.
 
As we grow closer to God and become more like Him, we can begin to see how our stories all combine to tell God’s story. One of the best feelings in the world is knowing that God has set you completely free from your past. All the shame and guilt and condemnation that you had to carry with you is gone. Through Jesus, you are no longer a beggar, you aren’t an orphan. You are a chosen son or daughter of the King of kings. You have value to the Kingdom. Nothing you ever have done or ever could do could make God change His mind about you.
 
Today I am praying for every single one of you that you would experience God’s love in a real way. As you go through your day, that you would encounter God the way you have never encountered Him before in your lifetime. I am praying that today would be a landmark in your journey. That you would realize today how much you mean to the King of Heaven and how great His love for you is. You don’t have to earn it or try to impress Him. You just have to let Him love you. If you will do that, God will do amazing things through your life.

Unforgettable

Isaiah 49:15 ~ NKJV
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will never forget you.”
If you think about that verse you can see the true beauty of it. It would be impossible for a mother to forget her child, especially when it is nursing. If she did happen to forget, it wouldn’t be for long because that baby would start screaming like crazy when it got hungry, then the mom would remember. Still, it would be difficult for her to forget in the first place. I’m sure all the moms reading this would agree with me on that one.
 
Compared to God and the way He loves us, it would be easier for a mom with a nursing baby to forget her child than for God to forget about you. That is an amazing promise. Even with all the screaming and crying of a nursing baby, it would still be easier for a mom to forget her kid than for God to forget you for an instant. When everything is falling to pieces and it feels like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, you can be confident in the fact that God is still hearing you! He will never forget about you!
 
In order to forget about us, God would have to first, make Himself a liar because He promised not to forget us in His Word. Beyond that, He would have to be in complete contradiction of Himself. The heart of a Father doesn’t forget His kids. His heart is for you. God thinks about you, constantly! You’re His favorite thing in all creation, how could He forget about you? He couldn’t! That’s not the God we serve. You never have to feel alone or abandoned because God will always be with you. You never walk alone. This Kind of the universe thinks you are the coolest thing ever. The only one left to convince is yourself because you are important enough to be remembered.

Focus on Jesus

Psalm 25:15 ~ ESV
“My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net.”
 
There are so many distractions in life, sometimes they are welcome and sometimes they aren’t so welcome. In fact, it seems that today, distractions are thriving and that is exactly how the enemy likes it. If he can get us distracted, he can get us discouraged and then we are in a whole heap of mess. When we get discouraged, we aren’t motivated to do anything because we start to think that we could never make a difference.
 
So, what do we do when we get bogged down in all the troubles and worries of life? Do what the verse says, fix our eyes on Jesus. That is the answer to every problem, when we focus on Jesus and His power, our problems start to shrink as we look away from them. As we focus on Jesus, our perspective changes and suddenly we are going back to who we know He is. We start to remember what He has done before and that He hasn’t left us. You might start to get happy if you do that! You could be in the middle of the biggest mess of your life, but if you focus on Jesus I promise your outlook will be brighter.
 
The really cool part about this verse is, as we look to Jesus and focus on Him, He will take care of everything else. The verse says that God will pluck our feet out of the net. It doesn’t say He will work our feet out of the net, that He will work to untangle it. No! He will PLUCK our feet out of the net. Just like that, done! Our problems never have been and never will be greater than the power of God. You don’t have to get yourself out, God will always be there to get you out of any situation.
 
Today I am praying for all of you that no matter what you are facing today. No matter what situation is staring you in the face, that you won’t focus on it. That your eyes would be locked on Jesus and you would be so tuned into Him that you don’t even hear the storm. Stay focused on Jesus, and He will never let you down, you can count on that.