Day 19: It Isn’t Over Yet

How did it go?

I went to my first Oakland Athletics game in (roughly) 5 years with my dad today, and, though I got a little sunburned, I was not disappointed.

We were playing the Minnesota Twins, and they had a good lead. Before the second inning had even begun, we were down 3 – 0. At the 3rd inning, we scored 2 runs, and by the end of the 8th inning it was a tied game: 5 – 5.

The game ended in the 12th inning with an Athletics walkoff home run. The final score was 6 – 5.

At the top of the 11th inning, my dad suggested we get going. We had been in the sun since we got there, we were burned, and it appeared the game may not end in our favor. “But it’s not over yet!” I told him, on the edge of my seat, hands clasped together, waiting.

He chuckled and told me, “alright, let’s give it one more, how’s that?”

Of course, we were glad we stayed. We saw that winning home run, got to watch the team rush the field, got to clap with the rest of the fans.

We got to see the end because we chose to just give it a little bit longer. We got to see the end because we decided it would be worth it.

What did I learn?

We have to stay faithful.

If we give in because of what we cannot see, we will miss the miracles God has in store for us. If we trust only the scoreboard of us against the enemy and forget about the capabilities we have, we will give in too soon, and we won’t be available for whatever comes next.

The Athletics could have given up. A baseball game is “supposed” to only be 9 innings. At the bottom of the 9th, the team could have decided this is pointless; we won’t be able to score; let’s stop doing our best. But they didn’t. They knew they had fans who had come to see them, who were cheering for them. Because they didn’t give up in outfield, they continued to perform at bat, and they eventually won.

If we feel defeated and we allow that defeat to take root, we will stop trying (outfield). If we stop trying, stop listening to God and communicating with Him daily (at bat), we will be unable to win any battle brought against us.

And know there are always others cheering for you. God, for one. But others, too. Strangers who are going through something similar and who also hope for freedom or answers. Family and friends who want to see you do more than just survive. Those people are not going to go home, no matter how late the innings go. Because they want what you do: hope, freedom, miracles.

As my dad used to joke with me, “it ain’t over ‘till the fat lady sings.”

Don’t let the scoreboard determine your fate. Don’t stop fighting for what you believe. Don’t give up on the dreams God has given you. It isn’t over until God decides it is.

Are you looking at the scoreboard thinking you won’t win? What battle are you fighting that God wants you to win? What miracle are you waiting on?

Remember: it only takes one really good hit for that ball to fly through the air and the stands and be a home run.

So let God guide your hit and you’ll hit it out of the park.

Kill Them With Kindness

We have all heard the term “kill them with kindness,” yes? Maybe you’ve even heard Selena Gomez’s song of the same title. Today’s Scripture seems very timely given what today is: the Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.

So, today’s post is short. I will allow you to dwell on the Scripture for yourself.

 

Romans 12:17-21

“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not overcome evil by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

This Scripture is telling us that we are to live in peace with others. Sound familiar? It also says we should “overcome evil with good.” In other words: be kind to those who are not being kind to you.

 

The take away is…

As I said earlier: kill them with kindness.

No matter where you stand or what you face, I encourage you to pray for others. I encourage you to pray for those who may not be good. Pray for our new First Family. Pray for our country.

Because prayer is the most powerful tool we have.

What’s In It For Me?

One of my colleagues and I had breakfast this morning as a sort of “last meeting,” and, somehow, I don’t remember how, our conversation led to how people treat each other in relationships—romantic or otherwise. We agreed that, in some cases, it seemed that people are only in things for themselves anymore, that it’s no longer about give and take but what someone can do for “me.” This leads perfectly into today’s Scripture.

While I didn’t post yesterday, the Scriptures from yesterday and today are directly connected. In fact, today’s directly follows yesterday’s. Interestingly enough, they connect to how we should treat others.

 

Romans 12: 1-8

“I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what it is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he out to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Here, we are told that, like parts of our body, we are all important, but we all play different roles. The hand cannot do the same as the foot. (It’s “be the hands and feet of God” not “the hands or feet,” right?) Our service to God is to sacrifice ourselves to Him, whatever our gifts may be, so He can use them by His grace and for His good.

 

Romans 12:9-16

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.”

This passage is, in essence, teaching us how to follow Christ, how to be Christians. We are to love, we are to have hope, be patient, pray. We are to be hospitable, we are to celebrate but also grieve with others. We are not to think so highly of ourselves that we become all we see and not God.

 

The take away is…

These two Scriptures seem to say the same thing at least once. Look at Romans 12:3: “…not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” Now, look at Romans 12:16: “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” The message here is simple: Do not think too highly of yourself; do not glorify yourself and your own mind and deeds; surround yourself with others who can help you stay humble.

I said my conversation with my colleague leads into these Scriptures, and it does. Here’s how.

Romans 12:1-8 tells us we all have a role to play in life and to submit to that role (“living sacrifice”). Romans 12:9-16 tells us we need to have compassion, be humble, be kind, and show brotherly (i.e. friendly) love to one another. As Christians, we cannot constantly go around asking “what’s in it for me?” when we bless someone else, or when we make a new connection, or when we partake in fellowship. Our actions have to be selfless, for the good of others, but, most importantly, for the glory of God.

Maybe some people have lost this concept and need to regain it. You totally can! It takes patience, practice, and, yes, prayer. But we must stop thinking we are the end-all-be-all of the world, that the world revolves around us. Because it doesn’t. There are much bigger things.

The part that speaks to me most here is Romans 12:9: “Let love be without hypocrisy.” I mean…wow. I think this sticks out the most because of what my husband and I are going through right now. I can’t say that I love him, and that I am doing this for us, if that isn’t true. (It is! Believe me. But you see my point?) Because that’s not love, it’s selfishness. But when I let the truth reign, wonderful things can happen.

Maybe you just need reminding that God has a role for every one of us and that your role is wonderful too. Maybe you need to find your God-given gift. Maybe you even need a little reminder on how to act during those days when you just can’t possibly love that annoying person. That’s okay. Don’t get caught in your head. Turn to God. His opinion of you and His gift for you and His role for you are the only things that matter.

So, what’s in it for you? Nothing. Except knowing God has a purpose for your life and that every relationship you make can impact you in ways you can’t even imagine.

Strength Beyond Measure

A good friend of mine and I were discussing our financial situations. Although they are different in many ways, they also share similarities. The main similarity is simple, and you probably already guessed it: we need provision. She said something that stuck with me. She said she’s been asking God to provide, and she has a family member who would like to help, yet she feels bad for allowing this person to do so. In other words, she is seeking provision, but has her own idea of how she would like to accomplish that. What if this is God’s provision?

It’s similar to the joke she told me once about a man who is about to drown. He asks God to save him, and has faith He will, and each time a boat passes him and offers relief he responds, “God will save me.” After three rescue denials, the man dies. He asks God “Why didn’t you save me?” God responds, “I sent you three boats.”

Her and I have both been asking for provision in our lives, and we have been given the strength to hold on, but what if each of the scenarios we have encountered, her family offering help and my new job, are God’s way of saying “I am trying to provide for you.”

My point is God will wait for us to accept what He is giving. And this includes strength.

 

Isaiah 40:28-31

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young man shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Here’s the verse (verse 31) that is most powerful for me: “but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.”

This Scripture is telling us that even though we, as humans, grow weary and are weak, God is never weary and he is always strong. In fact, this Scripture tells us that He will give us His strength.

 

Continuing to be Equipped

Today’s message in church continued our “Equipped” series, and our pastor talked through how God will not fail us, but we must allow Him to lead the way. The Scriptures used were Joshua 1:1-9, Romans 8:31-39, and 2 Peter 1: 5-9.

Joshua 1:9 tells us: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Romans 8:31 states: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” and verse 37 explains that “yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

2 Peter 1:1-9 talks about growing your faith in all regards because “if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is short-sighted…and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”

 

The take away is…

No matter what, God will equip us as we need for the journey ahead. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will give us His strength when we are weak because He never fails and is never tired. Because of this strength, we can do more than just survive and win the battle we face; we can overcome and prosper.

When we ask for the Lord’s help, we have to be willing to wait, but He can give us the strength needed to wait.

My friend and I have been waiting and wondering about our financial situations for some time. We have asked god for guidance, for provision, for answers. We have asked for strength to keep going when we don’t know what is next or, quite frankly, if we are going to make it.

But the thing is God has equipped us for this. He has provided answers, even if they are not answers in the way we wanted them. And that’s the key: God provides in His way, not ours.

Our pastor also said today that “power sought after is destructive, but power given is empowerment.” We cannot seek out our answers (or power) apart from God; we have to allow God to grant us those answers (or power) in the way He sees fit for our lives.

When we are at breaking point, we only need to ask God for His strength. But we have to be prepared for what He gives us. If we continue to grow our faith, we are rewarded beyond measure. Because, truly, if we allow God to lead, He will protect us. If He is for us, no one and no thing can be against us.

So, I ask you today: what do you need strength for? Ask God, and I guarantee, if you allow Him to take the lead, He will provide and protect.

Give thanks to the Lord!

Today’s Scripture seems pretty straight forward. So let’s dive in together.

 

1 Chronicles 16:8-24

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth, O seed of Israel His servant, you children of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth.”

As I said, I think this is pretty straight forward. God wants His people to praise Him, to glory Him, to know of all He does for them.

 

The take away is…

As His children, we need to always remember the wonderful and amazing things God has done. We should remember the works He has done, not just in the Bible but also in our own lives.

Was there something that happened that you just can’t explain? Maybe a sudden job offer. Or a good prognosis. Or a healing that was so needed. Well, that’s all God. He has done those things for you. And He doesn’t want you to forget. Not in a “you better not forget it!” kind of way your parent yells at you when they’re upset. In a “I care about you and I want you to remember the good things I have done for you.”

So even when times aren’t that great, and you’re struggling and aren’t sure what’s going on, remember the things God has done for you and praise Him for those things. Tell people what He has done so they can see Him in you.

What has He done for you that you need help remembering?

God Promises Renewal

Today’s Scripture has taken some thinking, and I am still not sure what God is saying through these words. Yes, I understand it is Him speaking in the context of the Bible and the individual text. But what is He trying to tell me now? I guess we can find out together.

 

Ezekiel 36:24-28

“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”

God is speaking to His people. Let’s examine context. This Scripture is part of a section, in my Bible, titled The Renewal of Israel. God is telling Ezekiel that He was upset with the Israelites for “defiling” their land. His punishment was to scatter them across many lands and nations where they would be judged according to Him for what they had done. Now, He is telling them He will gather them again, for they have been judged, and He will bring them back to their land and make them clean.

 

The take away is…

I think the lesson here is that, even when God has judged us, or when we have fallen outside of His Will, He still cares for us. I mean, the Israelites “profaned” the name of God! They “defiled” the land He had given them! And yet, God continued to love them, and he showed that love by promising to cleanse them and return them to the land He had promised them. He renewed them. And He renews us too.

God has amazing things planned for us and amazing places He plans to take us. Even if we get off track, He still loves us, and He will always bring us back to where we need to be.

What promise have you let go of? What renewal do you need?

Be Equipped to be a New Creation

Today’s Word at church was the first part in a series, Equipped, about how God equips us for the plans He has for us. One of the things that stuck out to me the most was our pastor’s line: “Get intentional about being alone with God before you find yourself unintentionally alone without God.” It doesn’t matter what this looks like for you, but it is important that you do it. It’s the only way you will hear God clearly speak to your life. (I highly recommend the full sermon once it’s posted. Visit Covenant Church’s website: covenantchurch.org.)

It sounds strange, but in that moment, I realized that this Scripture Writing Plan I’ve embarked on, and the blogging about it, is my intentional time with God. I also realized that if I can hear Him during this small, 10 minute intentional time, then I am better equipped to hear Him when I speak those short prayers in a moment of fear, anxiety, or worry.

So let me share with you how today’s Scripture has equipped me.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17-21

 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputting their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Wow. There’s a lot there. Let’s break it down a bit.

First: if you believe in God, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are new. Your past is forgiven. In fact, it is gone. Your slate is wiped clean. You get to start over. How cool is that!?

Second: Everything comes from God. He has fixed the broken relationship between Himself and His people through His Son, Jesus Christ. He has assigned us, as Christians, to be His people, His “ambassadors” and spread the Word.

Third: God fixed that relationship by sending His Son, who “knew no sin,” to take the place of all of our sins in this world. Jesus died so that we may be free.

 

The take away here is…

Yesterday’s Scripture was about counting the things we have given up to follow Christ “as loss” because our God is so much better. It’s interesting that today’s Scripture is about becoming a new creation if you are “in Christ.” Why? Because if you believe, if you are a new creation, if you have pronounced Jesus as your Savior, you have given up something: the old you. So the old you can be “counted loss for Christ.”

Because how much better is it to be a new creation, to be seen as completely clean, in the eyes of the Lord than to hang on to whatever chains you had?

And this resonates a lot with me. As I’ve said before, I will not pretend to be “the perfect Christian” (and I don’t think there is such a thing, really), nor will I pretend to know everything there is to know about the Bible and the intentions therein. All I know is what I feel in my heart and what I feel God speaks to me through His Word.

I have spent a countless amount of mental energy thinking “looking back, I wish I hadn’t done that,” “what if this or that had happened?,” and, most dangerously, “how could God possibly love me?” Have you struggled with those kinds of questions? I can’t see a show of hands, but I’m guessing the answer is yes.

But you know what? When we accept God into our lives, and we declare Jesus as our Savior, our past no longer matters. Because we are new in His eyes. And of course He loves us. We are His children! He created us! We are the creation He desires most of all. And how absolutely astounding is that? That our great God would desire us above all else.

So if there is anything you are struggling with right now, just call to Him. Just cry out, “Lord, I need you.” He will show up. And He will make you new. I know because I’ve felt that newness wash over me before. Actually, a few times. It is an incredible feeling.

I encourage you: do not be haunted by your past. Let God re-create you so He can show you the great plans He has for you.