Roots that run deep

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. ‘For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.’” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Trees are amazing to watch. Whether their leaves are falling in Autumn, or they stand completely bare in winter, their stance remains upright and outstretched—branches lifted high in praise. That’s what we can look like through every season of our life when we have roots that run deep.

Deep roots come from grounding ourselves in the the truth of what God has spoken over us and our lives…they come from anchoring ourselves to God and to His Word. In Matthew 7, Jesus says that anyone who listens and follows his teaching is like a person who builds his house on solid rock: a solid foundation… 

“Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matthew 7:25-27)

Seasons come and go, but God’s word remains the same. His promises, His wisdom and His truth are the only “constants” guaranteed in this chaotic and unpredictable life. Take time to know God and to hear Him; take time to read his Word. That’s how roots grow deepest, and that’s the key to arms raised high, whether leaves flourish or fall. 
[Photo by Felix Mittermeier from Pexels]

Ask and receive

Think of all of the relationships in your life. Would any of them sustain if one person did all the talking?

It works the same with our relationship with God.

I think we do most of the talking when it comes to communicating with God. We use our prayer time to ask Him for what we need or want…treating Him more like a genie in a bottle as opposed to a friend who has something to say, too; and that’s not a relationship.

Have you ever taken the time to ask God what He would like to say to you? I speak from experience when I say it’s a risk worth taking…

It was this time about five years ago when I asked God to speak to me. I was on vacation at the beach for Labor Day weekend; it was my first year out of college. I was asking God to direct the next steps of my career.

I remember walking one morning in the park, and as I walked I prayed: “God, speak to me whatever you want me to hear right now, in this moment.”

As I walked, something caught my attention from the corner of my eye. It looked like a giant birdhouse, but as I got closer I noticed it was a “Free Library.” (You could take a book for free and drop books off for others.) When I opened the little latch to peek inside, I stood frozen.

Resting on the shelf in front of all the books was a little green slip of construction paper that was cut into the shape of a bookmark. There were two messages written on the front, but the first word that stood out to me immediately was MY NAME, “Jordan,” handwritten right there!

The first message said,

“God loves you 

-Jordan”

And then…written below it…was a second message:

“You can do anything.” 

I could not move as I stared at this little green slip of paper handwritten just for me. Knowing the prayer I had just prayed—a prayer asking God to speak whatever he needed me to hear—and then receiving this personal note, completely confirmed to me that God was with me.

Through those two simple statements, God was telling me that it didn’t matter what I was going to “do.” All that mattered was that I knew He was with me and that He loved me; and because of that, I’d be able to accomplish whatever lied ahead.

As I look back, I realize how important that message has been throughout these past 5 years. In times of doubt and uncertainty, I’ve been able to go back and remember what God spoke over my life that day in the park.

But only because I asked.

Don’t miss out on what God wants to say speak to you. It may not be through a note on a green slip of paper…but it may be through the lyrics of a song that happens to play at just the right time. It may be through the words of a friend or family member; or it may be through the beauty of nature that surrounds us everyday.

The point is, don’t miss out because you haven’t asked. You never know what God is waiting to tell you.

 

 

 

Dwell in joy

“The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 

I think it’s common to hear the verse, “the Joy of the Lord is my strength,” but do we ever take the time to think of what that truly means? 

It seems as if joy is disappearing from our society. Depression, suicide and anxiety are the most-talked about topics; it seems as if everything…and everyone…have become burdened by a spirit of heaviness.

As someone who has always enjoyed listening to motivational speakers, I grew up with an understanding of the power of our thoughts and words. Our thoughts become our words, and our words translate into action, and as I’ve grown in the Word, I’ve found that teaching to be biblically sound: 

-“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”(Matt 12:34)
-“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23) 

We were created to be both spiritual and physical. Yes, we are humans—we have fleshly desires, natural circumstances and issues of the world that we will always contend with—but we also have the ability to accept the Spirit of Jesus within us: the Holy Spirit. That spirit gives us the power and strength to surrender all forms of heaviness and opposition to God so that we can live victoriously. 

When the Bible refers to the “fruit of the spirit,” it’s talking about the gifts we’re given through the Holy Spirt to defeat everything that tries to stop us from living abundantly in Christ. Joy is one of those gifts. 

Joy isn’t simply being happy; for happiness is merely an emotion. (Which means it comes and goes with circumstances.) Joy on the other hand, is steadfast and spiritual. It resounds inside of you regardless of your circumstances. It anchors you to peace amidst any storm life throws your way, because it comes from an unshakeable God. Joy allows you to laugh without fear of the future and smile when you want to cry…because you know you are “to count it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3). 

Your challenge this week is to smile when you don’t quite feel like it or say something positive about a situation that looks impossible. Joy is your weapon, but you must take hold of it, first.  

[Photo by malcolm garret from Pexels]

Reclaim your inner child

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27

When we take the time to read the scriptures, we begin to realize that the Kingdom of God operates entirely differently then our earthly world. Jesus tells us that the weak are strong, the last are first, and the child-like are the wise.  

In Matthew 18:3 He says: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” Matthew 18:3

Have you ever stopped to think about what this truly means? Have you taken the time to ask yourself what having childlike faith could look like in your life? Jesus isn’t telling us to be “childish;” He’s telling us to be “childlike”…and there’s a difference.

Having childlike faith is having the ability to trust in God as a child trusts his father—knowing that whatever he asks for is taken care of.

Having childlike faith is having the courage to act in obedience to whatever God says to do, because you know that He will provide everything you need to do it.

Having childlike faith is being able to push past the fear of our circumstances, because we simply believe that God’s promises are true. 

Children simply believe because their parent “says so.” Can we live our lives with boldness, audacious faith and in peace just because we trust that what God says is true? 

I challenge you today to reclaim your inner-child. Next time the world tries to tell you that your dreams are impossible, your past is too dark to overcome, or that your circumstances are overwhelming, close your eyes…ask your Father to speak His Truth into your heart…and then simply believe because God says so.

[Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels]

Be glad

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15: 28-32 

When we read the story of the prodigal son, we often focus on the father’s unconditional love…but there’s also an interesting lesson on jealousy. 

In the verses above, we get a glimpse into the other son’s reaction to his brother’s homecoming. Even though he was already getting everything his father owned, the brother in the story was jealous of the way his father was treating his brother’s return. He allowed jealously to block his ability to “be glad.” His brother’s return wasn’t cutting him short of his inheritance, and it wasn’t stopping his father from loving him any less—it was merely stopping him from experiencing the joy of a mended relationship. 

At first glance we may not think this is a big deal…but take the time to stop and think if jealousy is stopping you from being glad in a particular area of your life. Being jealous of someone else doesn’t change your circumstances; it does however, change your ability to experience a life of love, gratitude and gladness. 

Maybe it’s time to step back and weigh the cost of holding on to jealousy today. Letting go just may be the key to letting joy in. 

[Photo by Andre Furtado from Pexels]

The key to kindness

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Titus 3:4-5

It’s common to hear that we were saved by God’s love, but have you ever stopped to think that we were saved by his kindness, too?

Kindness is an underestimated characteristic that appears to be seen less and less in today’s world. Defined as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate,” kindness may seem like a simple trait; but all it takes is one look at the news or social media to see that’s not quite the case.

Being kind means accepting others despite differences. Being kind means understanding that your way is not the only way, and that you are not the only person who matters in the world. Being kind means opening yourself to the fact that another’s reaction towards you may not be a personal attack against you, rather a release of a past or recent hurt.

I believe that this is what the Titus scripture means when it says that we were saved by His kindness…for I believe that kindness is the gateway to forgiveness. When we can accept others right where they are—and then choose to believe the best in them—we exhibit love and kindness. Kindness doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone…it simply means you’re open enough to offer a fair chance.

So give someone a special gift today. A kind word or a kind act. It might be just be what they need to point them to God’s saving grace!

 

[Photo by Mauricio Artieda from Pexels]

 

 

Have you heard?

Have you ever stopped to think of the power of your words? (And not just the words that come out of your mouth, but the words that you allow yourself to hear…)

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that “the power of life and death lies within the tongue.” That’s powerful imagery and something that I don’t think we take enough time to consider in our day-to-day lives. 

When reading the book of Genesis, we learn how God created the world. Genesis 1:3 reads, “And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.”  For the next six days of creation, “God said” what needed to be and then created it. He spoke the world and—human beings—into existence. 

If were created in the image of God, then we too have the power to create our realities through the words that we listen to and speak. This is why it’s so important to surround ourselves with positive and like-minded people. The words that we hear on a daily basis greatly affect what we believe about ourselves and others. 

Pay attention to the music you listen to and TV shows that you watch. What kinds of words and messages are you allowing to fill your mind? The words we hear not only influence our thoughts, but also our attitude. It’s really hard to be thinking unhappy thoughts and still be a happy person. What we hear and what we speak have great influence on who we are as people and on the effect we have on other people. 

Become aware of the words around you. If you don’t need to make any changes, be the change in someone else’s day by offering a word of encouragement. 

 

[Photo by bruce mars from Pexels]