Good morning, Making Space for God Community! Today I want to share with you a video blog about one of the most significant topics for women today – our identity in Christ. The world and our culture try to send us so many messages and tell us who we are, but the true question is WHOSE we are. Let’s take a look at what Scripture says about our identity —
Good morning, Making Space for God friends! This morning, while I was preparing for my day, I heard the Lord whisper in my heart:
Joanne, it is a privilege to love your enemies.
Naturally, I stopped in my tracks. “Is this you Lord?” I have learned it’s better to stop in your tracks and see if it might be Him because if you don’t, He will just keep whispering… and then it will get louder and louder in your spiritual ears and heart. And then I heard Him say:
It’s easy to love those who love you, but it is a privilege to love those who do not love you.
Living in the Kingdom as believers, God is always teaching us His ways. If anyone has taught us how to love our enemies it was Jesus.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. (Luke 6:32).
Busted. I was hoping this was not Jesus talking to me. But clearly He says to us that the real test of love is loving those who don’t like you. And let’s be real. We all have people who do not like us let alone love us. Let’s take a look at what this does mean and what it does not mean.
First of all, I gravitate towards people whom I enjoy being with and vise versa; people who like me. Its fun and easy and keeps life simple. But as kingdom citizens, our lives are to be modeled after Jesus. He did not shy away from the Pharisees, or Saducees or others who wanted to get rid of him. He confronted them with love and truth. He did not choose to hang out with those who liked Him (remember Judas!). He chose to do what His Father told Him to do. And that mostly involved loving the unloveable, the outcast, the prideful in the case of the Pharisees, those who mocked Him, the crowd who sentenced him to death, and even those who nailed Him to the cross.
So first we need to reach out to those whom we might not consider lovable or even likable. And then we need to ask God to pour His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) and to release His love through us. His agape supernatural love enables us to see people as He sees them. His love is unnatural, not limited to those who are easy to love. His love crosses boundaries of color, culture, gender. And God’s love is available to us 24/7. We simply need to tap into it. And when we do, that is when we will clearly see that it is a privilege to love even our enemies. Because even our enemies are loved by God. And. by the way, we need to clarify the difference between God is love and love is God. God doesn’t just define love. He is love and not the other way around.
I want to challenge you this week to reach out to those who may not like you or be like you. In doing so, you will find that it is indeed a privilege to love and serve those who may not love you in return.
Earlier this week, I posted the second video in my mini-series about dealing with anxiety by Making Space for God. Specifically, we looked at how Making Space for God through prayer and praise can be the antidote to anxiety. So today, let’s dive deeper into praising and honoring God. Below is an entry from my daily devotional, Drawing Near to God, about just that. By the way, you can follow my devotional on our website or right from your phone with our mobile app. Starting your day in the Word each day is a great way to Make Space for God so you won’t be overwhelmed (or anxious) about life.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
The Psalms inspire us to praise and honor the name of the Lord. As we seek God, He will reveal His character to us through His names. Let us learn to honor Jehovah God, Adonai, El Shaddai, Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Shalom, and His many other names. He is our Master, our Sufficiency, our Banner, our Peace. As His names are revealed to us, we cannot help but praise and honor Him for who He is to us. The psalmists were full of praise for His name. Jesus taught His disciples to pray by hallowing (honoring) the Lord.
We are called to honor His name, the name that is above every name. (Philippians 2:9) Take the time to look for the names of God in Scripture. Often when a person in Scripture encountered God, a characteristic of God was revealed to him. Take Abraham, for instance. God told him to sacrifice his only son, and in his obedience Abraham prepared to do so. But an angel of heaven appeared and released him from the sacrifice. God saw that Abraham was prepared to obey, even by giving up his only son. Abraham discovered that God was his provider as the lamb for the sacrifice appeared. That day Abraham came to know God as Jehovah Jirah, his provider.
What name of God do you need to know today? Draw near to Him and encounter His love and presence in the area of your need. He will surely reveal His name to you.
Reveal Yourself to me, Lord as I relinquish control. Help me to know You in a deeper way today and to honor Your holy name.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
Two weeks ago, I posted the first video in a short miniseries about dealing with anxiety by Making Space for God. Embedded below or linked here, you will see the second video in this series. Today, if you are feeling anxious, I exhort you to make space for God through prayer and praise.
Dealing with Anxiety by Making Space for God - Part 2 - YouTube
As we approach Mother’s Day weekend, I want to share an older blog post about waiting. Some of you may be waiting to become mothers. Others may be waiting for a wayward child to turn around. You could be waiting for a relationship to be healed, for physical healing, for a job, you name it. We all wait for something. But God is with you in the waiting! I want to encourage you this weekend and share the hope and peace that He is near.
Friends, we all have times when where we are waiting on something or someone. We could be waiting:
To complete a work-related project….
On someone to respond to you…
On a circumstance to change…
Or a door to open…
Waiting for a physical diagnosis from the doctor….
Waiting on your children to get ready for school…
The list is endless. We all find ourselves waiting on something or someone all the time.
So the question is what defines the waiting process particularly when waiting is painful? Scripture speaks of waiting but my favorite passage is Isaiah 40:
Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with the wings of eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.
While you are waiting, look through kingdom lenses
There is a profound promise in this word; that when we wait we will one day soar. Waiting causes us to grow wings! Now that doesn’t make much sense to me. Waiting frustrates me. Waiting sometimes angers me and waiting never seems to bless me! Understanding the meaning of waiting helps us to see the significance and value in waiting in terms of our spiritual life. So if you want to grow wings, listen up!
The Hebrew word used for waiting in this scripture is quavah. The literal meaning of quavah is to tie small ropes together to create one strong rope. The figurative meaning of quavah is “to wait.” In other words, while we are waiting God is weaving a very strong rope that can carry heavy things and will not break. Guess who represents the strong rope? That’s us after we have gone through the often painful process of waiting.
As we make space for God in our lives let us make space for the times of waiting when the Lord is making us stronger. It’s hard to see in the middle of the waiting beyond the weeds in the way. But God… is ever present weaving His life into your life.
Have you ever told yourself that you will not do something again– something that didn’t work or that drove you crazy… or that was just too difficult? We all feel like that sometimes. Today I said just that.
I will never…
And I mean never go back to a particular store. So there!
I went on the impossible search for a bathing suit that would make me look thinner, was not too flashy or cut too low and the list was a page long. I was on a hunt and search and finally found one– just one, mind you, that was not perfect but I was exhausted by then. Went up to the counter to pay for it and the clerk told me it was on sale, however, if I was to get the sale price then I would have to pick it up tomorrow. I left it there and as I was walking away, I heard the next person in line say, “it’s 4 pm so the sale starts now and I can take my merchandise home, right?” “Yes.” But when I went back he told me that I was 5 minutes early when I purchased mine. What??! The story goes on but suffice to say I ended up going back the next day and followed the signs to where my purchase could be picked up. Waited in line 15 minutes and was told to go to another line. By the time I picked up my purchase I was ready to go to a dressing room, put the bathing suit and prance around the store. That would scare everyone for sure. Bad idea. Glad I didn’t do that. But what I did do was say,
“I will never go back.”
This is my purchase. The number was on my bag and I’m thinking it was the number of hours it took me
Now for the God story. Yes, there is one in here somewhere. There always is when we look for God everywhere. I was learning patience. Next stop was Trader Joes and I locked my keys in the car. My husband came and rescued me after I sat and sat and sat and then it happened. The Shepherd’s voice…
Joanne, do you think you are representing me well today? Do you think that the salesperson at the store deserved your snarly attitude? What if you had smiled and said something kind?
Oh no. Patience was not exhibited today. And loving kindness was nowhere to be found. Not by them and not by me. But I could have been kind. Jesus was kind. He cared. And I bet he never said…
I will never go back.
I bet He said. I will go back. I will go wherever my Father sends me. I will go to the lost, the broken, the needy. Now I bet you are thinking the same thing I was thinking. But He was not going to buy a bathing suit (just trying to add some humor). Jesus was patient but bold. He was compassionate and kind and I bet He never said never.
So today, I challenge each of us to remember that wherever we go, even if we are having a bad day, we represent Christ. Our flesh cries out when we think we are wronged and we are impatient. BUT GOD… Yes, there is always a BUT GOD…
On Monday, I started a series of video blogs about a topic that many people have shared is a real struggle for them – anxiety. At our Drawing Near Conference this past weekend, Dr. Barry Black commissioned us to reverse anxiety with prayer. Take a look at my first video in this series here. In the video, I talk about our Prince of Peace, Jesus. Below is an entry from my devotional, Sitting at His Feet, with some comfort the Lord has given me during anxious times. He reminds us that there is a peace that only He can give. Join me on this journey as we make space for God together!
I see that anxiety has found its way into the space where I desire to dwell. Your anxiety has filled your internal space with thoughts that are not my thoughts and ways that are not my ways. I have not deposited within you anxiety; that is the counterfeit of my peace. Take a look at the root of your anxiety. My Word to you is to be anxious for nothing. I care about every hair on your head. I watch your every move and lead you to the place of freedom from the cares of this world. The world can cause anxiety but my children bear the mark of peace and contentment, not as the world gives, but a peace that only I can give. Come close to me; sit with me; talk to me and I will listen. Lay down your anxious thoughts and agree with me that I am your Paraclete, the One who comes alongside you and cares for you. This is a better way, a road less traveled but a road filled with hope.
I Peter 5:7; Luke 10:41; Luke 12: 25-26; John 14:27
Happy Making Space for God Monday! Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be talking about a subject that so many people are dealing with today – anxiety. Watch the video below or on YouTube here. Let’s Make Space for God together so that His presence can help keep you from being overwhelmed with life.
Good afternoon, Making Space for God community! As we are preparing for our Drawing Near Conference which begins tomorrow, I wanted to share with you an entry from my devotional, Drawing Near to God, that deals with one of the themes of my talk – unity. If you are local to Charleston (or want to make a last minute trip!), we still have tickets available at the door for the main conference. You can learn more here. Hope to see you there!
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Unity with Christ is defined by humility. As believers, if we have been united with Christ, the fruit of this union will be evident in the way we are united with others, being one in spirit and purpose and humbly serving others. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s law served to point out sin and keep the Israelites united in purpose serving God. After Jesus came and offered us salvation through the forgiveness of our sins, His Holy Spirit continued the work of uniting all believers as one with one purpose—to love the Lord and to love our neighbor as ourselves (the Great Commandment). As Ezra read the Word, the people were convicted of their sin and were transformed as they responded in obedience. As we apply the message of unity to our lives, let us keep in mind that Jesus Christ has brought us together to love, to serve, and to continue the work of advancing His kingdom.
With whom do you feel divided or conflicted? You may not agree on issues, or circumstances may be such that you cannot be in agreement, however the Lord calls us to humbly walk with others. To love, encourage, and serve others regardless of differences perceived or real. The law of love supersedes our “right to be right” or our desire to get even. The Word teaches us that love covers a multitude of sins. (I Peter 4:8) Love will bring unity and purpose to our lives; love will cover our sins and draw us together. It is the most powerful force on earth.
Help me to be like-minded, having the same unity of love, being one in spirit and purpose with other believers. Help me to do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit; to look to the interest of others and value their opinion. Help me remember that Christ lives in me for the purpose of being united to share the good news of Jesus Christ and break down the walls of disunity that cause His kingdom to be divided. – In Jesus’ name, Amen
Happy Easter Monday! This is the day after we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has risen and that is the game changer for all of us who believe. He is the hope for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And the reason that life has meaning as we ponder what this life is all about.
Today I want to address the subject of His ever-presence; that in the midst to your pain, or joy, or life’s circumstances in which you find yourself, He is there. I have a confession to make. There are days when I wonder if He is there or if He cares, when my day does not go the way I had hoped– or week– or for some years. It’s not enough for me to simply say: ” Don’t worry.” God has this. We need a stronger anchor than our words. We need the words of Jesus:
In this world there will be tribulation (ie- stress, pain, trouble) but I have overcome those things.
Friends, on the cross, He completed the work that His Father gave Him to do and that includes helping us become overcomers in this life. Oswald Chambers puts it this way:
God does not give us overcoming life;He gives us life as we overcome. The strain is the strength.
In other words, when we step into the strain knowing he is there and step out in faith, He gives us the strength to overcome. Sometimes I just prefer to sit in self-pity hoping He will show up. But He is there already. He has gone before me. He goes before you. And as we step out to do the next thing, His Presence goes before us. We are not alone. He is in our midst.
As some of you know, my Daddy died a few weeks ago and my Mother said to me the other day that the hardest thing is not being able to see him now; having to wait until she goes to be with Jesus. She said that she wished we had eyes to see everything (spiritual eyes that is). I feel the same way. But one thing we know for sure is that Jesus promised He would be with us. His name is Emmanuel. God in our midst.
Christianity is the only religion where God reaches down to humanity– offering His best to draw us back to Himself. He made the first move; a move of grace. And as we reach back to Him, we find life. In the midst of this thing we call life, we begin to realize that now we only see in a glass dimly but one day we will see Him face to face. Now we must be satisfied with knowing He is in our midst, though unseen, we get glimmers, flickers of His presence daily. And for me, this is enough. How about you?