Conntecting the Dots

God is Out to Get You

Entrusting our lives to an unseen God can be scary: What if He asks me to surrender something precious? What if He asks me to do something I don’t want to do? What if He puts me through a test?

Focusing on fears about God’s intentions leads to the belief that He’s out to get us. Ironically, He is. But not in a negative sense.

God’s desire for relationship with us is so profound that He became a man and moved to earth to reveal Himself to us. He paid the ultimate price to demonstrate His love. Such extreme measures ought to put worry and fear to rest once for all.

God is out to get us, to draw us to Himself and give us abundant life. He has come to save us, not to make us miserable. Do we truly believe this?

“Lord God, help me live from the truth that You have come to save me. Let that truth transform the way I view You and Your intentions toward me and those I love. Amen.”

Scripture: Isaiah 12:2

Becoming Unoffendable

When someone hurts us, our tendency maybe to withdraw from the relationship. While this might be necessary in some circumstances, plain ol’ pride often prompts us to walk away.

If we don’t withdraw, we might lash out in self-defense, saying or doing something we later regret. Again, pride’s the culprit.

Perhaps we need to develop a thicker skin. A hurtful word or action can only pierce us if we let it.

Maybe we need to develop an attitude of grace—learn to see the offender through Jesus’s eyes and make allowances for her behavior.

Perhaps we need to live unoffendable. We refuse to pick up anger and unforgiveness because we value joy, peace, and inner freedom more than clinging to our perceived rights.

I suspect relationships would be less complicated if we could learn to overlook wrongs. What do you think?

Father God, teach me to be unoffendable. No matter how someone hurts me, I want to respond in a way that makes You smile. Amen.

#bbg2 #forgiveness

The Key to Personal Transformation

Don’t copy the behaviors of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.

Romans 12:2(NLT)

On my fiftieth birthday, the Lord impressed Psalm 23:1 on my mind. His promise to be my Shepherd and to provide all my needs carried and comforted me through the next decade of faith tests.

In January, seven months before that decade closed, He asked me to purge my home and move aboard a sailboat. Doing so was like writing an exam at the end of a long study session. That’s when head knowledge became heart knowledge. I experienced the truth that joy, contentment, wisdom, peace, freedom—everything I need to live the abundant life—is found in the person of Jesus, my Savior and Shepherd. It has nothing to do with creature comfort.

This week, on my sixtieth, God gave me Romans 12:2. Perhaps more accurately, He sealed it on my heart after bringing it to my attention over and over for the past two years. He’d already placed it before me so markedly that I wrote a First Place 4 Health Bible study based on it (side note—I just learned that this Bible study will be released in late fall rather than July as originally expected).

I know this verse is true. God has already changed my thinking about food and about my body being His temple, and I’ve regained my health as a result.

He’s changed my thinking about the importance of material belongings, and I’ve discovered the freedom of a minimalistic lifestyle as a result.

He’s changed my thinking about someone who deeply wounded me, and I’ve experienced the freedom of forgiveness.

So—what other thinking patterns does He want to change in me? I really have no clue, but I have a hunch I’m about to learn.

This verse is true for you too, my friend. God is all about our becoming new creatures, and that happens when He changes our minds, bringing our thoughts into alignment with His. That’s the key to lasting personal transformation.

In what areas of your life do you struggle? What sin hinders you from moving forward? What attitudes and behaviors do you wish you could overcome once and for all?

Seek a quiet place and invite the Holy Spirit to reveal inaccurate thinking patterns about those things. Then ask Him to change your mind by teaching you to think His thoughts. As your thoughts come into alignment with His, lasting transformation will come.

Join me on this journey, okay? If you can identify that area of your life, please feel free to share it with me and I’ll keep you posted on what areas of my life God is transforming as He renews my mind.

If you haven’t already done so, head over to my FB Author Page and like it, okay? You’ll find lots of spiritual encouragements there. And sign up for my free monthly newsletter to receive inspiration, a great recipe, enter a book draw and more. You can do that on my website.

Know you are loved!

Two Views of Life

For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?

Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)

I walked the docks twice at a marina this morning. They’re a bit rickety and lopsided, so the first time I only watched my steps to avoid tripping or losing my balance. 

The second walk was different. That’s when I noticed the starfish clinging to the dock pilings. God’s creative expression was there all the time, and I’d been too preoccupied to see it.

Purple, spiny, large and small.

I’d focused on my footing

And nearly missed them all.

We can focus on our pain and miss seeing God’s purpose in it. We can focus on the past and miss what He’s doing in the present. We can focus on our problems and miss His hope-filled promises.

Two views from which to choose. To which focus do you most closely relate?

Action Step: What might the rickety dock represent in your life? The starfish?

“Father, bring my view of my circumstances into alignment with Yours. Amen.”

It Takes Two

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Psalm 40:2 (NLT)

Jesus will help us when we call on Him. He’ll give us wisdom, strength, courage—whatever we need to move forward, change, or overcome. But here’s the thing; we need to do our part too.

He’ll help us conquer a besetting sin, but we need to run when temptation comes knocking.

He’ll give us courage, but we need to fill our minds with courage-building truth.

He’ll help us accomplish a task, but we need to stop procrastinating.

Jesus will steady us, but we need to “walk along.”

Action Step: Have you been waiting for Jesus to help you with something? What’s your role in seeing this happen?

“Father God, give me the where-with-all to walk along the path set before me. I trust You to steady me as I go. Amen.”

#bgbg2  #JesusHelpsMe

Love in Action

God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world

so that we might have eternal life through him.

1 John 4:9 (NLT)

We feel good when our spouse or kids or grandkids tell us that they love us. We feel even better when their actions convey their sentiments, right? They could verbally reassure us of their love a thousand times a day, but we’d doubt their sincerity if they never offered a helping hand or lent a listening ear.

God knows our need to see love in action. That’s why He did far more than merely express His love for us in words. He showed how much He loved us by sending Jesus into the world to live among mankind and die on our behalf. Demonstrating His love proved costly, but He knew that was the only way we’d believe His sincerity.

I think about the people I profess to love—my family, friends, and neighbors—and I’m asking God for creative ways to show them that I care. It’s easy to say, “I love you,” but love without action isn’t really love at all.

Action Step: Identify one practical way to demonstrate love to a neighbor today.

“Father, thank You for demonstrating Your love for me through Your actions. Help me do the same for those around me even when it’s costly. Amen.”

#bgbg2  #LoveInAction  #devotions

Live Like You’re Free

We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:6-7 (NLT)

In Christian lingo, we speak about chains hindering us from living victorious lives. Unforgiveness is one. Every link grows stronger when our minds replay an offense.

Fear is another. The fear of inadequacy keeps us tethered and unable to go beyond our comfort zone. The fear of rejection hinders us from the freedom that comes if we’re honest about our past hurts or present struggles. 

Pride, envy, jealousy, misplaced priorities—they’re all unwanted chains. But Jesus came to snap the. Are you living from that truth today? Are you free?

Action Step: Create a paper chain. Label each link with the sin that’s holding you captive. Now break the chain and throw it away to symbolize your freedom in Christ.

Father, thank You for the freedom that is mine through Christ. Help me live out that truth from this day forward. Amen.

Zach Williams sings a song that reminds us of Jesus’s power to snap the chains that hold us captive to sin.

No Matter How Much We Know, Jesus Knows More

The house was filled with people weeping and wailing, but he said, “Stop the weeping! She isn’t dead; she is only asleep.” But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died.

(Luke 8:52,53 NLT)

Jairus’s friends and family had gathered to mourn because they knew his 12-year-old daughter had died. Trouble was, their knowledge of the situation was incomplete.

Jesus tried to help them see the whole picture: “She’s not dead; she’s only sleeping.” His words fell flat. The people were convinced that they knew more, and they mocked Him.

How often do we look at our circumstances, assume we know everything there is to know about them, and fall into discouragement? Remember that Jesus knows more. He sees the big picture, and His perspective always brings hope.

Take Action: Ask yourself, “How would my outlook change if I knew what Jesus knows about a challenge I’m facing?”

Father, keep me mindful that my understanding of my circumstances is incomplete. Give me Your perspective. Amen.

#JesusKnows #Hope

 

How Does God View You?

Friends, I have a favor to ask. Next week I will attend a writers conference and plan to pitch a proposal for a new devotional. These devotions are between 140-160 words. They’re short and to the point, written as a sip of cold water for thirsty souls. Today’s devotion below offers you a sample.

Sometimes we’re so busy we can barely breathe. Other times we face circumstances that leave us gasping for air. We have barely enough brain power to focus on matters at hand let alone anything else. In times like this, we’re tempted to forego our time in the Word, but that’s when we need it most. We can’t handle a big gulp, but we can handle a small sip.

After reading today’s devotion, would you mind telling me your thoughts? Do you prefer reading short devotions like this or longer? Would you buy a book with 90 meditations similar to this? Would you consider buying it for a friend? I value your input. You can post directly here or email me with your thoughts. grace@gracefox.com

How Does God View You?

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.  (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

The way we see ourselves often differs vastly from God’s view of us. We look at our past with its failures. He sees our future filled with promise and hope.

We see our inadequacies. He sees our potential. 

We see our flaws. He sees us as a great work of art.

God poured His best creative energies into making you a unique wonder, and He put His signature on you when He gave you the Holy Spirit. Face the day with confidence and joy knowing you are God’s masterpiece and He’s proud of you.

Action Step: Identify one lie you’ve believed about yourself. Contrast that with God’s truth.

“Father, please bring my thoughts into alignment with Yours. Help me see myself through Your eyes. Amen.”

#IAmAMasterpiece  #bgbg2

Staying Healthy for God’s Glory

… Give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God. Romans 6:13 (NLT)

If you’ve followed my blogs for awhile, you’ll know about my wellness journey. For those who are new, I lost about 60 pounds over two years and have kept it off. People ask me how I did it, and I credit “First Place 4 Health” with playing a significant role. This ministry teaches about nutrition and exercise, but moreso it emphasizes giving Jesus the place He deserves in our lives so we can experience wellness in every part of our person—emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual.

I struggled with my weight for years. Food enslaved me. If I ate at a buffet restaurant, I’d heap my plate full two or three times because I “had to get my money’s worth.” If attending a social event with appetizers and snacks, I’d hang out near the food table so I could refill my plate easily. If I ran into writer’s block in my office, I’d eat chocolate or chips in secret (as though doing so would somehow jumpstart creativity). 

Overeating combined with lack of exercise led to obesity. Then came knee pain and leg injuries that resulted in a loss of mobility for three months.

“First Place 4 Health” became a life saver for me, especially through its weekly Bible studies. I’m part of a Wednesday morning online study with about ten other women. Each week we discuss topics related to nutrition and exercise for about a half hour, and then we delve into our Bible study lesson for a half hour. The program also requires that we recite our weekly Bible memory verse, track our food intake, and send our weekly weight to our group leader for accountability.

I consider this program as my lifeline, and this is especially so since Gene and I moved to the sailboat. The transition threw me off my nicely ordered routine. For starters, I’ve had to restructure my exercise routine to fit the gym’s open hours and Gene’s commute schedule. We have only one car, so if he leaves early for work, then I can’t get to the gym—unless I walk there. That means crossing a busy freeway. At first I thought that was impossible, but I’ve been scouting options and I found a crosswalk. I think I can do this. It’ll take at least 30 minutes each direction, maybe more.

I’m having to think of ways to “up” the number of steps I walk every day. Our former house was quite large. My office was at one end, and the kitchen was at the other. I gained a lot of steps simply by walking back and forth during the natural course of a day. But that doesn’t happen in a boat where my desk is four steps from the kitchen. Now I have to be more intentional about leaving the boat to walk, and that interrupts my nicely ordered writing routine.

I’m also having to rethink my meal routine. Back at the house, Gene and I ate our larger meal at noon and a lighter meal at six o’clock. Now, because of his commute, he packs a lunch. For him to eat the larger meal at noon, I have to consciously plan menus so ensure leftovers. Also, he arrives home after seven o’clock three days a week. That means we eat around 8 o’clock. We enjoy connecting over our meal at day’s end, but that’s just too late for my metabolism. Something’s gotta change.

As I look back over the past five years or so, I see God’s direct involvement in connecting me with “First Place 4 Health” so I could regain wellness in preparation for living aboard a sailboat. He knew this transition was coming, and He knew I’d have to be healthy to do it. Now we’re here, living among people who need to hear about God’s love for them. For me to fully participate in His purposes, I need to stay healthy, and that means making whatever changes are necessary.

Health is a priceless gift, but it takes intentional effort to maintain. If we’re to use our bodies as tools for God’s glory, then we need to make that effort. I’ve found it so very worthwhile—I’m healthier and stronger than I’ve been in twenty years and able to do what God’s called me to do during this season of my life. But, through this transition, I see how easily I could slip back into excuses and bad habits. Heaven forbid I go there again. And so I ask for His help to stay on track every day. Every. Day. One choice at a time.

So—what’s your greatest health challenge, and what’s one step you can take to ensure your body is used for God’s glory?

BTW, the Bible study I recently wrote was done in partnership with “First Place 4 Health.” If all goes as planned, it will be released in July. You can use in conjunction with a “FP4H” small group or not—the choice is yours. It will be available both on the FP4H website but also through my website. This eleven week study titled “Forever Changed” will also contain healthy recipes and grocery lists.

#bbg2 #FirstPlace4Health  #FP4H