…”I COULD WRITE A BOOK”…

Every person’s journey is unique, and yet the same, too.  Everyone experiences joy, pain, fear, peace throughout their life.  We can all relate to each other on many levels; some, of course, more than others.

In the course of conversations I have often heard this statement:  “Oh, I could write a book!”   It’s true.  Many life experiences should be written down for future generations as well as our own reference.  Each one of  us has a significant voice.  We all have a message we could share, lessons we have learned, and valuable advise we could give because of them.  I love personal stories because they have made a difference for someone, and many times they can make a difference for me.  I may not understand every detail or have walked in their shoes, but I can relate on some level to people around me.  Every story has immense value because every person is valuable.

You have a story.  Take a moment to think about how your story would read.  It would contain some exciting pages, and some ordinary ones.  Some pages filled with hope, and others filled with discouragement.  Whatever words are contained therein are your words, your story, and your reaction to what life brings you.

With that in mind, what would your story say about you?  What kind of response would you desire from your readers?  What would the theme of your story be?  What conclusions about yourself would you come to?

There are many aspect to writing a life-story, but one perhaps you have not considered.  How different would your story be if it were written by God?

Most of the time God sees things very differently than we do.  He sees you through the lens of unconditional love, unfathomable mercy, abundant grace and unspeakable joy.  Where you have seen a crisis, He sees courage.  Where you have felt failure, God saw perseverance.  You may have been fearful, but God sees faith.  You may have felt like you were taking two steps forward and three steps back; God sees progress and great potential.

We need to be very clear on one vital point:  God is for you.  As a matter of fact, the Bible teaches us that He has a book with your name on it.  Contained in your book is God’s good purposes for your life.  It is filled with great hope, challenges accomplished and battles won.  In it you will find that He sees you as having great influence for good.  He sees you as being one who lifts up others and encourages them in their situations.  You extend mercy and input people’s value and worth.

So, cherished one, the next time you evaluate your situation, ask the Holy Spirit to share some of God’s reading material about it.  Learn to see it from His perspective.  Look at your life through His lens.  That is the truth.  You can stand on it and believe it.  God’s perspective will give you what you need to overcome and give you purpose that you may not realize is there.

YOU ARE A PROMISE.  YOU ARE A POSSIBILITY.

Blessings,

Judy

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UN-CON-DI-TION-AL

I want to share two very important words with you today, taken straight from the dictionary.  As you read these definitions, keep in mind which one best describes God’s love for you.

Conditional: 

Subject to one or more conditions or requirements being met, made, or granted on certain terms.

A word, clause, or sentence that shows that something is true or happens only if something else is true or happens.

Something conditional is dependent on other factors….”It depends”.

Imposing, depending on, containing conditions.  Not certain, tentative, subject to stipulations or requirements met.

Unconditional:

Not subject to any conditions.

Whole-hearted, unqualified, unreserved, unlimited, unrestricted, unmitigated, unquestioning.

Not limited by conditions, absolute.

Not subject to any requirements, or special terms.  Complete.  Without reservation.

 

If you haven’t already, set your mind on the word unconditional as your reality concerning God’s love for you.  As you go through your day, remember this definition from time to time.  Keep it on the front burner of your mind.  At the end of the day, evaluate how this practice effected you.  Doing this can change your thoughts about yourself, your situation, and your relationships.  It will bring hope, encouragement, peace, and joy right where you stand, whatever you are doing.

Try to practice this every day for a week.  By the end of the week, I guarantee you will experience God in a new way.

This is how we renew our minds.  It is what transformation is all about.  You are already made in God’s image because of Jesus.  Bringing your mind into His truth about you will make it a reality in your life.

1 Corinthians 1:22 states:  “For the Jews require a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

Do you have any requirements that you put on yourself or others?  Are there conditions you feel you must meet before God can love you?  Have you placed conditions on yourself that God has not required?   If so, replace those thoughts with these two questions:

What did you do last week that caused God to love you less?

What can you do this week to make Him love you more?

 

Blessings,

Judy

SOWING A LIFESTYLE, REAPING A HARVEST

There is nothing like going  to your garden and picking fresh vegetables  or fruit for your meal.  All your hard work has paid off and the harvest is wonderful.  We have a small two-person garden which right now is promising some delightful moments in the future.  After preparing the ground, my husband and granddaughter planted seeds.   Her crop happens to be peas, and every time she visits she runs to the garden to see how her peas are doing.  We recently discovered tiny, baby peas beginning to grow, and it will be a grand celebration when she picks the first of her harvest.  I has been a marvelous adventure.

Every gardener, young or old, learns the basic principles of sowing and reaping.  If I want beans it is imperative that I plant beans.  I can’t plant a kernel of corn and expect a watermelon.  The DNA that is in the seed replicates itself in multiplication.  One seed planted produces much more harvest.  You reap what you sow, and you reap much more than you sow.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that we were not the only ones interested in our garden.  We are visited by deer every spring and summer, so we made the garden inaccessable for them.  (Don’t worry though, they have free reign to apple trees in the back yard.)

We discovered another little fellow who has a taste for beautiful zucchini blossoms, stealing the harvest before it has a chance to grow.  This little guy is an adorable, fluffy, soft predator who would love nothing more than to deprive me of zucchini bread this summer.

While I as thinking about this I recognized some things about gardening that relates to life.  First, in order for seed to grow the ground needs to be ready for it.  The seeds that God wants to place in my life grow in a heart and mind that is receptive to them.  I also need to understand that the harvest is a result of God’s fruit being produced in my life.  He never intended for me to produce His righteousness.  The seeds belong to Him, and so does the harvest.  I cannot, by my own effort, produce God’s fruit.  I don’t even want to try.  It is His fruit that I want tog grow in my life, and His fruit I want to sow into life’s situations.  How is this accomplished?  Grace, grace, and more grace.  Grace is God’s empowering presence in my life that enables me to become who He created me to be.

I need to be deliberate about what I sow.  If I want a harvest of love, love is what I need to sow.  That goes for all of God’s fruit; peace produces peace, sowing kindness reaps kindness, having patience produces patience, joy becomes contagious – it keep growing.  I have also seen what negative seeds will produce in life and relationships.  These are the things that may look harmless, but before you know it they hop in and devour our hope and joy.  Negative words can wipe out a trust and hope like a swarm of locusts.  Doubt and fear will pull out the seeds before they sprout.  Anger left to simmer will produce thorns.  I need to keep the desired harvest in my mind a I walk this journey.  If I don’t see the fruit I desire, I need to take a look at what was planted, then watch for those little thieves who would try to sneak in.  They will steal my hope and my vision, snatching my purpose away from me.

One last thought – this kind of mentality is not for the weak or fearful.  Those kinds of people will give in to any negative that threatens to influence them.  Like a pinball machine, they find themself helplessly bouncing from one emotion to another, having little or no control.

Life comes fully equipped with problems.  No matter how I might try I cannot deny that fact.  Sometimes these issues are not a product of anything you have done.  Some things in life happen to you, not always by you.  So chill out when that happens, and don’t go hunting for something you have done to allow this to happen.  Personally, I have had issues with physical pain for decades, and could easily find fault and weaknesses in myself.  However, this is nothing I did.  It is a simple fact that I live in a world that can cause pain.  However, these problems will not influence me.  I have made them the fertilizer that feeds the growing fruit of God’s presence in my life.  We all have difficulties, but need not be influenced by them.  Instead, we grow in grace that overcomes every negative we encounter.

So, hop away, little bunny Foo Foo.  You have to find your lunch elsewhere.

 

Blessings,

Judy

 

AS DAWN BREAKS…

With great anticipation and eager expectation God waits…every morning arrives full of potential, accompanied by new mercies.  Every person.  Every morning.  I wonder what is in His heart for me when I awake.  He is ready to greet me with the day’s potential blessings.  He is eager to show me more of who He is and who He wants to be for me today.  Full of love, overflowing with joy, brimming with promise.  Every morning.

What would it take for you to wake up every morning with those thought running through your head?  What would it take to believe how magnificent God wants to be for you today?

Yesterday may have been full of regret.  But in God’s eyes, just like yesterday, they are gone.  There are no left-over feelings of shame, guilt or condemnation in His heart because they were not there to begin with.  He greets me only with great possibilities.

It was a good day when I learned that God doesn’t keep score.  No replays of past failures.  No report cards, either.  As a matter of fact, contrary to some opinions, He doesn’t even grade on a curve.  He has one standard; the cross.  Where Jesus finished everything possible to secure my place with God.  I am included in the total success of the cross.  Nothing more is needed.  It is complete and I am complete in Him.

It is actually so simple that many trip over it.   We seem to have a need to feel worthy of such love.  For some people this line of thinking would require an entire change in how they understand who God is.  Others may need to see themselves differently, through the lens of God’s grace.  Wherever we are in this journey is a good place because it only gets better.

It begins with accepting the truth that Jesus did it all for you.  His atoning work was complete, lacking nothing.  It is finished.  I had spent decades trying to make myself deserving of His favor.  In so doing I had reduced His amazing grace, His fathomless love, and His limitless mercy to depend on me and my performance.  God’s love has nothing whatsoever to do with being deserving.  It has everything to do with being loved.

My question then becomes, will I abandon myself to such care?  Will I embrace who God wants to be in my life?  Will I accept as fact my identity as He sees me?

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning;  great is Your faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, therefore  hope in Him.”   Lamentations 3:22-24

New mercies await you, every morning.

Blessings,

Judy

GOOD MORNING!

What would it take for you to truly believe and embrace how magnificent God wants to be for you today? Take a minute to think about this. What would it take for you to believe in His favor with reckless abandon? After a minute or two I have another question for you…what was your first thought? And the thoughts following? Everyone loves the prospect of having that kind of faith, but it only takes a few seconds for that faith to encounter contrary reasoning.

Usually arguments come under two categories. The first one is fear. The last time I really tried that kind of faith I was disappointed in the outcome. The second is on the heels of the first; I don’t deserve that kind of blessing.

Allow me to ask another question – do you want to know God’s heart for you enough to push fear and doubt out of the picture? If your thoughts went to remembering disappointments of the past, let me encourage you to toss the score sheet. Some people have learned to keep score of offenses and let-downs. They give them a valid reason for their anger. I know some folks whose score-keeping skills are unreasonably accurate, down to the last detail, even if the event they describe is decades old. It is a card played when confronted with their own weakness or failure. It is a tragic situation. These people will never know God’s fullness because they don’t trust Him.

Other people don’t trust themselves. Years of failures has left them paralyzed to even consider being loved and blessed to a greater degree. They simply don’t deserve it.

Both of these mindsets stem from the same faulty concept. Either God is not strong enough to answer my prayer, or big enough to cover my failures. There was a day when I came to realize that I was reducing God’s great mercy, His fathomless love and relentless kindness to depend on me and my performance. Your blessing has nothing to do with being deserving; it has everything to do with being loved.

What we need to understand before another day passes is that God’s mercies are new every single day. He doesn’t keep score. There is no left-over anger or negatives from yesterday. If you approach God feeling you must wrestle Him out of an answer or bring some kind of leverage to balance the scale in your favor, you need a ‘new morning’ mentality. Lamentations 3:22-24 states: Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassion fails not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion”, says my soul,”Therefore I hope in Him.”

Try as I might, there is no way I can even begin to understand this kind of love outside of divine revelation. The reason for that is because the only reference I have is the human love I have experienced with others. It is absolutely wonderful and amazing, but even so often carries a measure of reservation or self-protection. Yes, we love with all our hearts, but God’s love goes further. It has no other motive than seeing the object of His love thrive in every way. He holds nothing back from us; as a matter of fact, He goes the distance to where we can find Him. God does not meet us half way. He comes to my point of need, whatever and wherever that may be. Not only does He become who I need Him to be, He also gives me understanding of that part of Him.

The fact that His mercy is new every morning is absolutely mind-blowing. The newness is not because God doesn’t know me and I am a new acquaintance to Him. As a matter of fact it is because He does know me. I often wonder what was in His mind and heart when He designed me. I believe He saw the potential and with eager anticipation designed me for a special purpose. Do you ever wonder what is in His heart for you? So often we get caught up in focusing on our commitment to God and fail to see how committed He is to us. When we respond to His love,I am sure it fills Him with unspeakable joy.

I think God eagerly anticipates every morning with me. There are new mercies to be experienced every day. What a remarkable truth for us today. The word ‘new’ here means to be restored completely. God’s love is full. All the time. Even if you think it’s reservoir was severely drained yesterday. Even if you feel completely undeserving. His mercy never fades or diminishes. Nor does His love for you. You cannot do anything big enough to mess up His plan for your life. He will not change His mind toward you or grow weary in His giving. It is there that every excuse we bring, every disappointment, every weakness or failure is washed away by God’s great heart. That, friends, is what we depend on. That is where our faith rests. That is where I want to live, move, and be.

This morning I will place my confidence is only one thing – God’s faithfulness. Not in my earning power, services rendered, or faith produced. His faithfulness is my resting place.

Blessings, and good morning!

Judy

Waiting…wai-ting…w-a-i-t-ing…….

Sometimes life feels like I am in a waiting room, waiting to be called for a scheduled appointment. If the appointment is a medical one there are various ways to keep the time. Some people produce a mental array of ‘what-if’s’. By the time they are ushered into their appointment they are an emotional wreck and their blood pressure is off the charts. On the other end of the scale, there are those who spend the waiting time putting happy thoughts into their minds, working very hard at staying positive. Of course, every magazine in the room has been looked at to make the wait less agonizing. You finally find the one that looks interesting when you hear your name.

I hate to wait. I need to know the answers so I can gain a measure of peace in my mind and control in my life. I am purpose-driven to the extreme, so I must find purpose in every situation I encounter. I need to know, and I need to know now. I think that is every person’s experience. It isn’t easy.

With that being said, have you ever noticed that God never seems to be in a hurry? I have worked myself into a lather about something, and He waits patiently for me to finish before proceeding. I am desperate for an answer, a destination. God has designed a magnificent journey.

What if some of the best blessings in life are formed on the way, while waiting for answers? Most of the time it is the journey to the destination where we discover amazing, life-changing truths. My attitude during the process often determines where and how I reach my goals. Almost without fail my purpose in any circumstance is to find answers. God purpose is who I am becoming.

God has a plan for me. A plan even bigger than I can imagine. My response is always “Great! Let’s go!” I am packed and ready to get there on the fastest mode of transportation available. My mind is racing with possibilities while I wait for my companion, Holy Spirit. It doesn’t take long before I see Him coming. Hmmmm. He doesn’t have any luggage or travel brochures. With a great big smile He approaches me and asks me if I am ready to go. “Absolutely!” Then He hands me a walking stick and a journal.

What I do not yet realize is that there are things I will discover on the journey that will prepare me to live in the destination. Important things that speak to me about who God is and who He wants to be for me every step of the way. That takes time.

I am learning to ask Him unusual questions. What do You want me to see today, Lord? What aspect of Your nature am I going to understand that I don’t know yet? Who do You want to be for me right now? What would it take for me to understand the truth of who You are?

Armed with these kinds of questions, I notice myself beginning to change. The destination, the promise and answer is still before me, but my focus is turning from my goal to my companion. I want to know Him. That is becoming my purpose and my destination.

The more I know Him, the more I become like Him. An amazing transformation is happening in me. I am learning who God really is, and especially who He is for me. I am seeing myself through His lens, which is totally radical! It is only then that I can see others in the same way.

My intimate time with God on this moment by moment journey produces in me everything necessary to fulfill and live out my destiny and purpose. What I am learning now will be the overcoming power in my life ahead. God has a plan – a dream for my life. It is bigger than I am now. Therefore I want to become the person who can handle that dream.

If you happen to be in the “waiting zone” today, be encouraged. Abide in the Vine. Take in all of it’s life-giving nourishment because the harvest will be amazing.

Blessings,

Judy

KINDERGARTEN BLUES, CONT.

I have heard about the power of Peter. I have heard about the power of Paul. But somewhere between Peter, Paul and me the power petered out. And I couldn’t figure out why. I should be much further along in my walk of faith, and reasoned that the source of my dilema was that old sin nature was up to its nasty tricks again. I believed that was something I would have to fight every day of my life. To the death. Literally.

Religious life is often a series of lessons followed by tests that prove that the lesson was learned thoroughly and applied properly (or not). Much like the educational process; learning, testing, moving forward. However, I often felt like I was stuck in kindergarten forever. Some progress was made overcoming my sin nature, but it was always close at hand, ready to strike. I spent the majority of my time and effort on constant watch for an ambush. More than anything in life I wanted to make God happy but this issue was always in the way.

Applying ‘behavior rules’ only proved my ability to fail. When I succeeded I needed to stay humble, which caused another layer of frustration. Sin was ever before me, always on the back burner of my mind. Like most believers I could heartily agree with Paul when he voices his frustration in Romans 7. He always winds up doing the very thing he does not want to do, and the things he wants to achieve are never reached. Verse 24 describes the place he reached when he said “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Oh yeah, Paul. I feel your pain.

This is one of the most confusing passages in the Bible. Paul just finished telling us that our sin nature is dead. End of discussion. Why, then, does he resurrect it in the very next section? I think the answer is in the first verse of chapter 7. “Do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?” A couple things to note here; first, Paul is addressing those under the Mosaic law. They are the ones who understand this problem because the law can never make anyone holy, no matter how well they obey it. Simply put, Paul is describing what life looks like under the law, or when you depend on your own effort to live a holy life. What we need to understand today is that no one can fulfill the righteous requirement of the law. And that, my friends, is the point. We need a Savior.

We are quick to learn about sin but slow to embrace righteousness. God provided another way to live. Successfully, I might add. So often we emphasize the lists of ‘do not’ and totally ignore the ‘yes!’ rules that Jesus accomplished for us. The first one is the foundation to all others. It is this rule that we build our lives on. Romans 8 states that there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death.

The fact is that because of Jesus we are a new creation. The old is gone. What exactly is gone? My old sin nature. Dead. Gone. And it will not resurrect. This is not zombie-land. Don’t spend another minute trying to kill something that died with Jesus on the cross. Instead, embrace the truth of who God says you are. 2 Corinthians 5:21 gives us an amazing revelation: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ.” Now, imagine what life would look like if that was the foundation?

There is much that can be said about this, including many scriptures to encourage us in our true identity.

Let’s address one more issue today. If my old sin nature is dead, then why do I still struggle? Good question! I asked that very thing while I was enjoying a few moments with Holy Spirit. I am not afraid to ask honest questions. I think God loves it when we do. This particular day I received a very enlightening response. The conversation went something like this: “Okay, Lord, I know that my sin nature is dead. But I am confused about the struggle I still feel.” The answer came in the form of another question; “Were Adam and Eve created with a sin nature?” Well, no, they weren’t. “If they did not have a sin nature, what caused them to sin?” Oh wow. A new thought. Their struggle was not in their nature, it was in their minds. New thoughts were introduced to them. They listened, reasoned and decided to act on those thoughts. What ended in disaster began with a thought.

There is was – plain as day. Words and thoughts were presented to them that challenged what the believed to be true. Instead of rejecting those thoughts, they pondered them, replayed them and eventually acted on them.

What if – that is exactly where our battle is fought? Jesus already won the war for my soul. I wonder how much time and effort goes into fighting for something that is already mine? It is really a simple process. I takes practice and I find that my forgetter works better than my rememberer. I need some help with this, so I asked Holy Spirit to nudge me when I encountering thoughts that will distract me from my true identity and purpose. Don’t open that door. Shut it out. Keep it out. Replace it with what Gods says about the subject. Meditate on that truth, speak it out and turn a potential negative into a powerful victory.

If you are interested in more of this, I have a book available that goes into this in depth entitled GOLD STARS. Please contact me, Judy Murphy at lifebygrace@msn.com for more information.

Until next time, remember – you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.

Blessings,

Judy

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