Partially Used

Photo by Léa Dubedout on Unsplash
My sisters and two nieces recently visited me from out of State. It was like good medicine to my soul in so many ways. We woke up early sipping coffee, sharing insights from our past, and what God has done in the present. We stayed up late reflecting on pictures from new memories made during the day’s adventures. Laughter and joy spread throughout the house as we got silly from fatigue.

The day to pack for departure came too soon. As I searched behind them for anything forgotten I noticed a partially used bottle of shampoo left in the shower. I mentioned it a few times in hopes they would not forget it. However, when they left it was still there. As I examined the red bottle it became familiar to me. It dawned on me that it had been in my shower for several months untouched.

I had purchased another shampoo that I felt would better suit my needs rather than finishing the bottle I had. Over time I became blind to the fact it was still sitting there, partially used.

Sometimes we become blind to the fact God is right beside us, partially used.

We use Him in the moment of need, and become complacent that He is there.

We become distracted with something or someone else causing our hearts to drift from God.

We receive His peace, provision, or protection forfeiting glory due Him because our self-sufficiency kicks in.

God promises to never leave us nor forsake us and yet that is the very thing we do to Him. God may be on our lips but far from our mind, Jeremiah 12:2b.

Friend, the Lord desires us to understand and know Him; To know that He is the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, and He delights in these things, Jeremiah 9:24b.

He designed it so that when we continually abide or remain in Him He will bless us. Consider the following:

Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:4-8 CSB)

Perhaps you struggle to remain in a consistent relationship with God. I believe most of us are guilty of that from time to time.

Maybe you have the best intentions to do better at acknowledging, praising, and fellowshipping with Him on a regular basis. You may even be successful for a week or two and then your attention is onto something or someone else. When you do you miss out on the abundant life God desires to grant you, John 10:10.

Be encouraged in knowing God is a patient God, 2 Peter 3:9! I am so thankful He is! Aren’t you?

Let’s not become defeated by our lack of commitment, but instead, strive for victory by having our hearts and minds fixed on Him. Acknowledge Him in all our ways by inviting God in the details of life. The more we practice inviting Him in the more consistent we become in our fellowship with Him. Pray for God to help you Know Him more. I dare you to pray that every morning you wake up! I do and He is faithful to open my eyes to see and know Him better.

He used a shampoo bottle to get my attention. What is He using to get your attention? Don’t ignore it! Examine it and ask God to open your eyes to what you are missing.

 

 

 

 

4 Steps to Love God With Your M.I.N.D.

Reading book

Sometimes I wonder if I am doing all I can to love God. That may sound like a strange statement, but it’s honest. As I fight the battle between the flesh and spirit I find myself growing weary of giving God my all.

Recently, I read a familiar passage of scripture that washed over my spirit convicting me to take a closer look. The scripture comes from Matthew 22:37… “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

While reading it the Lord said, “Jodi, are you loving Me with all of your mind?

Whoa! I knew I was loving Him with all my heart and soul, but I could not say yes to His question. So, I replied with a question:

“Lord, how am I supposed to love you with all of my mind when my thoughts are battling between right and wrong, lies and truth…?”

Do you love God with all your mind, or would you be asking God the same question I did?

God is aware of the difficulty we experience loving Him as He desires us to. Knowing this He has provided us with a powerful weapon that can overthrow the enemy of our mind. His word!

The question is whether or not we will use it. But to use it we must believe God’s word, surrender to it, and live it out.

Are we going to give in and let the flesh win because we are tired of fighting the enemy or will we unleash the power of the Word and claim ground that is the Lord’s?

If God wants us to love Him with our mind, and He does, then no wonder the battle is so intense. The enemy is threatened when our minds are fixed on Christ because we live in peace. (Isaiah 26:3)

The enemy, Satan, is a deceiver, liar, thief, and seeks to distract our thoughts in hopes to lead us down a path of destruction (1 Peter 5:8).

I am willing to stay in the fight using the weapon, the word, God has provided. Are you?

To strengthen my resolve to stay in the battle I created a four-step process using an acronym with the word MIND. (By the way this is God’s answer to my question to Him.)

To help us recall M.I.N.D. click HERE for a printable.

While the process sounds simple, the application of it will prove its need of preparation, awareness, perseverance, and unyielding commitment.

Meditate

Intentionally ponder about God’s truths, and His promises. Recall times He answered your prayers, provided, protected, and proved His awareness of you. The more you meditate on His word and track history the more you will have your mind fixed on Him.

*Create 3×5 cards with scriptures that encourage you, remind you to love God, and inspire you to worship Him. Place them in your car, on your desk, and on your mirror.

Identify

What causes your thoughts to drift away from God? Identify the pitfalls, triggers, so you can be on guard the next time they encroach. Knowing is half the battle.  Take comfort in the knowledge that His word heals and delivers us from destructions (Psalm 107:20).

Navigate

God’s word is a lamp guiding our path, so use it as you navigate a new thought pattern (Psalm 119: 105).  Begin by renewing your mind (Romans 12:2).  Think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, and lovely (Philippians 4:8).

Declare

Make a commitment declaring that you cannot do this without Him, but with Him you will be victorious (John 15:5).  Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it (Philippians 4:13).  Declare that you will strive daily to love Him with all your mind (Psalm 37:5).

By the time you have gone through “M.I.N.D.”, you will find your thoughts have been redirected, and you now have the upper hand. Let’s not give up on fighting the flesh so that the spirit may win. God is our strength!

The next time your thoughts are unhealthy, destructive, untrue, or deceptive pause and remember “MIND” (Meditate-Identify-Navigate-Declare). Practice until it becomes second nature.

I pray that when God asks us if we are loving Him with all our mind we will all say, “YES,” and with all our heart and soul, too.

White Puff Balls And The Gospel

Young Woman blowing dandelion

I was honored to write this for Contagious Joy Ministries.

Wildflowers and weeds occupied the large lot next to the home where I grew up. I loved wandering around the turf searching for treasures. I especially liked to find dandelions. Their yellow petals transform into a white puff ball called a seed head. Finding my treasure, I would bend down, carefully breaking the stem without causing the ball to fall apart. While holding my breath, I held it close to my chest making a wish. Then, I would bring it up to my mouth and blow it as hard as I could. The white puff ball exploded in every direction as if carrying the message of my wish to a magical place.

As I recalled this childhood memory, I recognized that as believers in Christ Jesus, we are much like the white puff ball of the dandelion. To continue reading click here.

This was first published at http://www.ContagiousJoy4Him.com

 

Secret Walls That Limit Our Faith

Woman praying alone

Does your faith have secret walls?  Hidden limitations you’ve built around your life? For years, I refused to go on a mission trip overseas. I reasoned that God could send someone else, and that it was best for my children if I didn’t go. To be honest, I wanted to go but I was trapped by my fears.  My fears formed a fortified wall around my faith allowing me to go only so far with God. When I considered what was on the other side of the wall, I imagined horrible outcomes: Sickness, not being allowed back in country, orphaning my children, or not being with them if they needed me. The enemy had me right where he wanted me. Faithless. Ashamed. Controlled. Ineffective.

I imagine you have your own reasoning for your faith walls.

Maybe God has prompted you to witness to someone, but you felt inadequate, and decided to wait for another day.

Maybe God wants you to begin a new ministry, but you are insecure about your ability and decide to bury the dream.

Maybe someone you know suffers from a chronic illness, and because you haven’t seen improvement you doubt healing and your prayers have tapered off.

Maybe you have faith that God loves, forgives, or has plans for everyone else, but cannot believe those truths for yourself.

It is those feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, doubt, and a lack of self-worth that limit our faith.

God is not the creator of those limits. We are.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) However, we choose to thwart that power and discipline when we allow our flesh to override God’s desires for us. Our hope and belief can waver when things seem impossible. The enemy plants the lie and waters it with doubt: Will God really make good on His promises to me?

Consider the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. This is an historic account of real men and women who struggled with their faith, but chose to knock down their walls of inadequacy, insecurity, doubt, and fear. When they did, God showed up in huge ways and made good on His promises!

I remember the day God broke down the fortified wall that had kept me from traveling on mission. God was prompting my heart to travel to South Asia with my husband, leaving my boys behind. As I was praying and asking God to help me take this step of faith, He simply stilled me with His love and spoke into my soul:

Jodi, you will never receive the abundance of life I have designed specifically for you if you continue to live in fear. I have plans to use you for My Kingdom. You may have given birth to your children but I created them and I love them more than you could ever dream! You can trust Me with them. Do you trust Me? Yes Lord, I trust You! I trust You for what I cannot see on the other side of my wall.

I went and I was effective! I was no longer faithless or controlled by the enemy’s lies.  But, I must be honest and tell you I prayed A LOT. However, the more I prayed, the more He strengthened my faith in His faithfulness. Peace ruled instead of fear. There was freedom on the other side of my faith wall. The enemy no longer had me where he wanted me. Instead, God had me right where He wanted me – trusting in Him.

Do you fear what’s on the other side of your wall? You don’t have to! There’s really nothing to fear when you trust God for the outcome. He will cause all things to work together for good if we let Him.

Secret walls limit our faith. Ask God to help you push down your wall so your faith can be without borders. It’s the life you were purposed to live … LIVE IT!

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

I See You, But Do You See ME?

i-see-you-but-can-you-see-meHave you ever had life circumstances hit you hard? I have. A while back I was blindsided by some circumstances causing me to become emotionally unstable, stressed, and weary. My thoughts were confusing and irrational. The more I tried to think clearly, the more deeply I fell into despair. I prayed, journaled, spoke with others, cried, and exercised hoping for a reprieve. I believed Isaiah 26:3 to be true so I pressed in and rolled the words over and over in my mind, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.” But instead, my thoughts were inconsistent. I felt like my world was falling apart.

Can you relate?

Have you ever been desperate for God to speak, “Peace, be still,” so that your circumstances would miraculously change for the better?

During one of those trying days, God used a simple penny and a song to speak peace into my soul. He may not have spoken audibly but I heard Him loud and clear.

I made a trip to the store and prayed before I got out of my car, “Lord, speak. Help me.” I had hoped to make it in and out of the store without anyone seeing or speaking to me. As I pushed my cart along the side of my car a penny on the ground caught my attention. (Side note: The inscription on pennies, “In God We Trust,” reminds me to trust God. I always keep them as a reminder.) As I looked at the penny it was as if God said, “I see you, but do you see ME? I did not want to be honest with God but I was and told Him “No.” I was blinded by my circumstances, emotions, and confusion. I asked Him to open my eyes and mind to be able to see Him. After loading my purchase in the car, I got in and the radio was playing, “Just Be Held,” by Casting Crowns. Here are a few of the lyrics that spoke to me:

Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place…

If your eyes are on the storm

You’ll wonder if I love you still

But if your eyes are on the cross

You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted

In time, you’ll understand

I’m painting beauty with the ashes

Your life is in My hands

Lift your hands, lift your eyes

In the storm is where you’ll find Me

And where you are, I’ll hold your heart

I’ll hold your heart

Come to Me, find your rest

In the arms of the God who won’t let go

This experience opened my eyes to see Him. To see that He was with me. To see He was in control. To see He was working my brokenness into something useful. To see He is holy and still on the throne. I began sobbing because I felt God’s love and His presence.

I was doing what had brought peace to me in the past: praying, journaling, seeking counsel and exercising. I was trying to trust God with words but not with heart.

When we completely trust in God with ALL our heart, He exchanges our unrest for peace. As I fully abandoned to God my self-reliance, expectations, control, and grip on my circumstances He graced me with peace; A peace that immediately calmed my storm. Though my circumstances did not change, I changed. And because I changed, I can now walk in Isaiah 26:3.

Because I trust in You God, You will keep my mind in perfect peace. (my paraphrase)

Do you see God? He sees you.

Ask God to speak, and then listen and look for Him in the simple things. He is there!

Can I Have A Little More Time God

woman-sitting-on-edge-of-rock

It was during a Sunday morning worship service that the Lord impressed upon me to do something I never dreamed I would do. For years, I had been praying for confidence, growth in knowledge, security, and to become what I was meant to be in God’s eyes… Y’all, God was calling me to attend college after twenty years of being out of High School – which I barely graduated due to bad grades – Truth!

I had so many questions as to why He would choose such an avenue to answer those prayers. I was reluctant to follow Him because I had gotten comfortable praying. Just being honest! I thought those prayers would never get answered. Fear and the unknown gripped me. At that moment, He instructed me to step to the altar as an act of my surrender to His will and an abandonment of mine. Yikes! I began arguing with God. I told Him all the reasons why His timing was off. For one, the service had just started and it was not time for the “altar call.” Tradition says those are meant for the end of service, right? In my stance of pride, I told God I would surrender when I got home, in private. Well, that did not set well with the Holy Spirit and as I felt His presence resend I could not get to that altar fast enough!

I feared God at that moment more than I feared the unknown and the people that would witness my actions.

Have you ever argued with God?

Have you ever questioned His calling in your life?

Have you ever postponed obedience?

In the book of Matthew and Luke, there is a discussion between a couple of disciples and Jesus regarding the call to follow Him. One of them wanted to bury his father first, but Jesus told him to let the dead bury their own. This can sound cruel, but biblical commentators speculate that his Father was not dead and could live many years to follow. This disciple was asking for more time before stepping into obedience to Jesus’ call on his life.

Perhaps he feared his family and others would not understand why he was following Jesus. Perhaps the sacrifice of leaving his family and community was too weighty. Nonetheless, his response was inadequate to Jesus. Delayed obedience to Jesus is disobedience.

In Matthew 9:23 we learn that Jesus got in the boat and the disciples followed Him. They chose to sacrifice relationships, what was comfortable, and their reputation to follow Him. Their allegiance to Christ surpassed their allegiance to everyone and anything else.

No matter what God is calling us to, even if it doesn’t make sense right now, our faith at that moment must become bigger than our fears. God’s purpose for His calling is bigger than us.

If they had not followed Christ, they would have missed out on life-changing events. For instance, immediately after they had gotten in the boat with Jesus a horrific storm arose (Jesus never promised life would be without trials as they followed Him). Jesus got up from His seated position in the boat and rebuked the winds and the sea bringing about a great calm. Then, when they reached the other side they witnessed Jesus commanding demons, with one word “go,” to flee from two possessed men into a herd of pigs that ran off into the sea drowning. To read the full story go to Matthew 8:23-34.

If I had not followed Jesus’ call that day, during worship, I would have sacrificed seeing Him work in my life. I would have missed experiencing God and Him answering prayers from years ago. I gained confidence, started a small business, and graduated with honors… Me? With honors? Only God could pull that off. The sacrifice was uncomfortable, and it was hard. But living in disobedience to a call you may not fully understand forges greater sacrifice and heartache.

Is God calling you to something bigger than yourself? Are you hesitating to follow Him?

If it is a clear call from God don’t argue.  Don’t question.  Trust Him. Choose to step into His boat and follow Him. He will calm the storms of life and He will protect you because you are His and He loves you with an everlasting love. He will never call you to anything that is not intended for your good and His glory. Romans 8:28-30

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” (Psalms 56:3 NIV)

 

 

 

 

I Was Not Honest With God

listening-to-music-relaxing-meadow

Can you recall a time you were ministered to through song? Maybe it led you into deeper intimacy with God, brought joy to a sad season, caused praise to be on your lips as opposed to grumbling, or reminded you that you’re not alone. Maybe only a phrase of it jumped into your heart causing an impact in your moment.

It is not uncommon for God to use songs to refine my walk with Him. On one particular day while driving around, running errands, Francesca Battistelli’s song, “If We’re Honest” came on the radio. One part of her song resonated with me, “Mercy is waiting on the other side if we are honest.” It was as if God was saying, “Jodi, you have not been completely honest with ME and that is why you are struggling to find MY peace.” I wanted to slam on the brakes! I had recently brought Him several weighty concerns. I wanted to defend myself before God and remind Him of my surrender of them. However, as I searched my heart and re-evaluated my actions it became clear. I managed to withhold just enough from Him so I could still have some control, some say so, and some influence on my outcome.

What was I thinking?

Why was I not trusting God with it all?

How about you? Do you struggle to surrender to God?

I am aware that for some the word surrender does not set well. I mean who wants to tap out and give up? But with the proper perspective, surrender is a worship word. When we are willing to let go of anything that hinders our relationship with God, allowing Him to be Lord of our lives, we are demonstrating God is God and we are not.

Jesus implores us to release our everything to Him. Consider the following scriptures:

“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NKJV)

We have permission to reassign responsibility on God for all the details, all our worries, and the outcome of it all.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NKJV)

When we fully surrender to Him we are grafted into His plans and His ways and can do anything through Him.

“…Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34 NKJV)

Why would we not want to deny ourselves of worry, anxiety, confusion, despair…? Perhaps we cannot see the mercy He will give us on the other side. Mercy that gently loves us, covers us and restores us to Himself. Or perhaps it is because we lack faith in a trustworthy God.

As I considered what God revealed to me about not being honest with Him, I repented seeking His forgiveness. Why, might you ask? Because I was indeed telling Him that I could not trust Him with my concerns and I was trying to be god and lord of my circumstances. Immediately upon my repentance, God provided a peace I cannot explain and the fruit of my obedience was more than I deserved. Over those next few days, God’s mercy and grace walked me through a trying time of medical test, surgery, and recovery that apart from Him I would have been a hot mess.

To be honest with you surrendering to God is easier said than done, and I fail at it way too often. However, it is a necessary action if we truly want to walk in obedience allowing Him to be Lord and authority in our lives. The next time you hear your favorite song played, ask God to allow it to fall afresh on your ears. He may use it to impact your moment like never before.

What do you need to be honest with God about today? Mercy is just on the other side!

For fun, I have broken the word surrender down so we can remember the blessing behind the action.

Submit

Unleash

Release                                     The Action of Surrender

Reassign

Emptying


Newness

Dependence                            The Promise of Surrender

Entering

Rest