Favorites of 2016

I’m a words person.

My Christmas list, birthday requests, favorite surprises, etc., all have to do with words. The Lord’s Word is dear to me. I treasure phrases and conversations. God uses words to teach me, shape me, and grow me in Him.

So it’s no surprise when I think on 2016 that some of my favorite, most memorable gifts from the Lord have been comprised of words like these (in no particular order:)

Favorite Blog Posts

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Clarify Your Calling by Micah Maddox

What the World Needs Now From Christians by Lisa Whittle

When You Need to Make a U-Turn by Debbie Wilson

Why Stuck is a Good Place to Stand by Joy Williams

Hope for the Heavy Seasons by Lois Flowers

Jesus is Not Your Cheerleader by Melissa Kruger

Transitions: When He Shapes, Molds, and Orchestrates In the Middle of the Unknown by Christine Duncan

Waiting for Breakthrough by Lesley 

Books

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Peace for a Lifetime by Lisa Murray

Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung

Soul H2O by Sherry Stahl

Keep it Shut by Karen Ehman

A Foreign Devil in China by John Pollock

What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers

Song Lyrics

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Oh My Soul by Casting Crowns

Thy Will by Hillary Scott

Just Around the Corner by Martina McBride

Be Still and Know by Hannah Kerr and Mark Hall

Dear Younger Me by MercyMe

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I know whom I have believed and am fully convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. –2 Timothy 1:12

Be still and know that I am God. -Psalm 46:10

The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes His steps. –Proverbs 16:9

He must increase, I must decrease. –John 3:30

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him and He will do this. –Psalm 37:4-5

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen – Hebrews 11:1

The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? –Hebrews 13:6

The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding –Job 28:28

What words has the Lord used in your life this year?

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The Kindness of the Lord

When we say that God is the standard by which we know and measure goodness and righteousness, we admit that there is no definition completely suitable of these things. There is no set of words in any human language that can fully encompass the wholeness of a standard. We have nothing to correctly compare it to.

As a friend recently pointed out, “a cauliflower’s taste can’t be described in comparison to anything. It certainly doesn’t taste like chicken. It just tastes like cauliflower.”

That’s what those things which God is the standard of are like. His kindness is kindness in its purest, most whole form.

The word for the kindness of God in Scripture, transliterated “chréstotés” says as much in its definition. According to Biblos, “We have no term that quite carries this notion of kind and good.”

Ephesians 2:6-7 emphasizes:

“God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

We the kindness of the Lord in His sending Christ to die for us and raising Him up again. His kindness is evident in redeeming us, raising up to be with Christ. As we know, grace is giving us what we don’t deserve.

Kindness is giving us what we don’t deserve richly and abundantly.

We aren’t just children He cares for. We are children He cares about. More than just redeemed, we are filled with His Spirit. The barrier isn’t just destroyed by Christ so that we have access if we need it. Instead, we are brought near. Drawn near.

God likes to have us near. He delights in blessing us. His kindness is not goodness out of obligation or goodness because more good is needed. His goodness is simply goodness.

In our corrupted nature, we cannot fathom this. Our closest comparisons fall short. The best we understanding we have is described in Matthew 7:11:

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

The kindest we can be does not compare to the kindness of Christ.

We often look at others and wish to give certain types of kindness. Closeness, not feeling alone, hope for the future, comfort. The Lord enables us to give these in a way, but not as thoroughly or intimately as He can. Time, emotions, circumstances, and thoughts do not shift at our Word as they do His. Thank the Lord that He is so kind in expressing His love for us in kindnesses like these.

And we see this in our lives, don’t we? When we ask Him and He gives so personally, so clearly. His good gifts are more than we could ever imagine: families, friends, relationships, scenery, moments, laughs….those things that help us to understand awe, wonder, and fulfilling intimacy. That wave of peace that has no explanation. The small mistake that upsets our day for the better.

Praising the Lord today for His kindness in all the good gifts- big and small that He gives. Thanking Him most for His kindness in delighting to have us near to Him.

How are you reveling in His kindness?

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

17. BEHOLD: The Surprise

Shh, it’s a surprise. That’s what we say when we pick out unexpected gifts and tell others about them before Christmas day.

On Christmas morning, we want our loved ones to open their gifts and light up with delight over the surprises inside. We make goodies for friends and randomly bring cookies to work, just to give a little bit of surprise joy to those around us.

The idea of gifts being surprises was God’s idea first. Imagine Mary’s surprise, to be chosen as his mother as a virgin. And Joseph’s -when an angel showed up with the best but most unexpected news. The Shepherds in the fields surely lit up in shock and awe when the skies came alive with praise.  Then, to find the newborn king lying in a manger of all places?!

Still, the surprises continued.

Many of the expectations people had regarding their coming Messiah were thrown off. They thought we would come and reign on earth immediately, not (when? Oh we still don’t know the time!) Instead of conquering with swords and great, terrifying power He won us over from death by…dying. Surprise!

When we look at all the unexpected gifts God has given and gives, we react like the Shepherds and Mary and Joseph and the Disciples with more fear than delight.

“Do not be afraid”

Luke 1:30

Matthew 1:20

Luke 2:10

There’s a reason that this phrase is so often repeated in Scripture. We, as control-seeking, nervous, limited human beings, are not big fans of surprises…until we see them work out in our favor.

Upon being surprised, we scream. We’re often terribly confused. And, if the surprise does not turn out to be wonderful and beneficial, it often becomes a story told only as a “what-not-to-do.” (Don’t we all know of “oops” surprise stories?)

Surprises from the Lord are treated in much the same way. Our first reactions when the Lord does something unexpected are often fear and confusion. We ask “well, what about this?” or “what if?” before we say, “Lord, your every gift is perfect! Thank you!” Fortunately, his grace is sufficient. His kindness does not fail.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

1 John 4:16

We can look back through history, and the Bible, and our lives, are recognize that His surprises are delightful. No mystery of the Lord’s is shrouded in darkness and risk. When we see His surprises fully revealed, we are in awe of the gift-giver.

Behold, our reason to trust even in the unexpected.

Behold, the one whose endless grace and love continue to surprise us.

Behold, the Lord whose surprises are always perfect.

This post is being shared on: #DanceWithJesus and #LifeGivingLinkup.

9. BEHOLD: Our Treasurer

People tend to count often in December. Fastidious budgeters often check their bank accounts multiple times a day during December. Others tally what’s left in their wallets. Some people take the time to count their blessings. I know I’ve also counted the hours in the day and the tasks left to complete.

December is a month of spending, tracking, budgeting, and collecting. Whether our time, our money, our gifts, or our to-do’s, we have much to manage.

Fortunately, the Christ we celebrate this month is the best treasurer to ever exist.

“Does he not see my ways and count my every step?” Job 31:4

                        “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Luke 12:7

If He knows the number of the hairs on our heads and every step we take, He is certainly doing a better job of keeping track of our mess and our gifts than we could ever hope to. More than just tracking, though, Christ, on our behalf:

  • Has paid our debt
  • Has provided what we need
  • Has invested our lives in eternal things
  • Has given us everything we need, counted and tallied, to glorify Him
  • Has sacrificed to ensure that all our loved ones are covered too
  • Has secured for us a future with Him that is priceless –and that can’t be bought or sold

The Christmas lists of budget sheets, wants and needs, and plans to complete look a little different when we recognize the work that our treasurer is doing.

 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13

Behold, the one who counts most (pun intended!)

Behold, the treasurer who exchanges for treasure in heaven.

Behold, the treasure Himself.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday