Don’t Give Up

Well, January has come and gone and we’re already halfway into February. At the beginning of the year I’m so motivated to make changes, to try new things, to reprioritize my life. With renewed vision and vigor I determine to…

  • Clean the closets
  • Redecorate the house
  • Eat healthy
  • Get back on budget
  • Exercise more
  • Read more, pray more, study more

And yet, by the end of January, I notice the dust beginning to settle on my dreams for the year. *Sigh*

The fire that motivated me so strongly January 1 is beginning to burn a little dimmer – at times flickering and gasping to stay aflame.

Funny how easy it is to be quick out of the blocks – to initiate change, start projects, take on new responsibilities. Yet over time I watch the energy I need to sustain the pace at which I desire to run dissipate.

I haven’t given up though. I’m determined to push through and approach this year with a different level of faith, an additional dose of tenacity. I don’t want to meander through the year, wilting under its heat and pressure, succumbing to its weight and burden.

I truly believe that God has a purpose and plans for me. I believe that He has wonderful plans for you too.

I don’t think I’m experiencing anything new – nothing you probably haven’t had to face as well.

In fact many years ago, we find the apostle Paul encouraging the Galatian believers as they began to waver under the persecution for their faith. He urges them not to allow their diligence and discipline to wane. He writes,

let-us-not-become-weary-in-doing-good-for-at-the-proper-time-we-will-reap-a-harvest-if-we-do-not-give-up-galatians-6_9

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

There will be seasons when the heat is turned up and the enthusiasm we once had to initiate change fades.Don’t give up. Don’t grow weary. Don’t become discouraged in your efforts. Perhaps you aren’t seeing the results you desire in this season, but God created you to flourish. To move forward in what He created you to do.

Push through your weariness to experience the growth and reward waiting for you on the other side of your mountain. It’s his power working in you and through you that gives you the ability to overcome and reap the harvest you desire to see in your life this year.

 

 

 

 

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Blooming After a Long Winter

I love Springtime. After months of barrenness, everywhere you look there’s evidence of new life bursting forth. Following a long, cold, hard winter, hope springs forth. New life begins to break through!

You may live in an area, as I do, where you don’t witness the dramatic seasonal changes; however, we all experience changing life seasons. Some happy, some fruitful, but other seasons will be sad, barren, dark and cold.

When our lives feel “dead” on the inside and there is no evidence of growth, no budding of life, how do we melt the frost crusting over our heart? Where do we go to find enough sunlight to help us pierce through the dark clouds shrouding around us?

Perhaps you’re currently in a wintery season, desperately hoping for brighter days and clearer skies. If so, Isaiah’s message is for you, my friend…

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. 3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not!,… Isaiah 35:1-4 ESV

I love how Isaiah uses a crocus blossoming abundantly as his illustration. The crocus is among one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring. In fact, crocuses are known to thrive in late winter and early spring because they’re hearty enough to break through frost and bloom even in light snow.

I want my life to resemble the heartiness, yet hopeful beauty of the crocus. A life that can endure winter and emerge to blossom without any evidence of the harsh climate it pushed through to bloom. A life that perseveres through wilderness and dryness to experience joy and singing once again.

Don’t discredit the hidden potential of winter. Buried treasures can be found there.

In fact, winter prepares the way for spring.

ON POINT

Wintery seasons will come. Seasons of loss, discouragement, fear and isolation.

But you can be sure of this – no season lasts forever. Winters will come and go, just as the fresh loveliness of spring will come and go.

When I look back at “wintery” seasons in my life, there’s something in me that wants to forget those painful seasons – to erase them from my memory, blow past them, dismiss them as a waste of my time. I don’t want to dig up the dark storms, lonely nights or relationships gone cold.

It’s easier to focus on the “happier”, more pleasant seasons – seasons of fruitfulness, warmth, clear skies and sunshine.

Yet, I’ve noticed that God has brought some of my greatest seasons of fruitfulness out of my wintery seasons.

Out of the frozen, dry ground, new life appears. On the bare trees, buds begins to bloom and once again, we begin to feel the warmth of the sunshine on our face, flowing through our bodies.

God has the power to bring beauty out of our brokenness.

Our lives have the incredible ability to flourish after a famine. New life can and will spring forth from the cold, hard lifeless ground. It’s hard to embrace the warmth and joy of spring when you’re winter has seemed unrelenting.

Perhaps you’re feeling as if your life is in a wintery season. Take heart, your life will bloom again. Spring will come and you’ll experience new life in a new season.

As Isaiah reminds us, “Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not!”.  Don’t lose heart. Persevere through the winter, trust God’s presence to be with you and strengthen you.

You may be asking, “How do I begin to move forward? What do I do during my wintery days?” Here are a couple of things I’ve found helpful.

  • Reach out to God. Dig into his word and allow the roots of your life to be developed in Him, not in your circumstances. Allow God to use this barren season to draw you closer to Him. It’s often in our most desperate, darkest times when God grows our faith and we learn to depend on Him.
  • Remember the promises of God. Never doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light. Wintery seasons aren’t absent of God’s presence and they don’t discredit God’s faithfulness in the past. This season will end. You will get through it.

He will make your life bloom again. He is faithful.

The temperature will rise, the ground will thaw and the beauty of new life will begin to bud.

Collecting Jars and Other Pinterest Activities

 

The beginning of the year is a time to dream. To set the bar high for the year ahead. The calendar is empty and holds endless possibilities for the opportunities that await the coming year.

To lose the weight.

To get out of debt.

To find a new job.

To develop an exercise routine.

However as January progresses, I have found that the urge to settle begins to creep in; the lure to compromise starts to tug on my ever-weakening will and resolve.

I begin to doubt.

I prepare to adjust my dream to more realistic standards.

I pull back and “trim my sails”.

I contemplate quitting and giving up.

I don’t know what dream God has placed in your heart for the coming year, but what I do know is that there will be obstacles placed in your way attempting you to abort your plans, give up hope and settle for something safer, more comfortable.

There is a woman in 2 Kings 4 who was experiencing the trial of her life. She approached Elisha, a man of God, and cried out in despair…

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” 2 Kings 4:1-2

Imagine her predicament. She had lost her husband and was now facing a dire financial situation as a single mom. To add to her grief and misery was the fearful possibility that she would lose those who were most precious to her – her sons.

Understandably, this woman had lowered her expectations and was burdened with need. She had acquiesced to the very real potential that she may lose two of her children.

She knew God – her husband had even served in the company of prophets! But grief, heartache and despair shrouded her life, dimming any ray of hope or glimmer of promise that circumstances would change.

Upon seeing Elisha, something sparked within her. Hope began breaking through and somewhere deep within in her heart her seed of faith prepared to bud…

3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. 4 Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” 5 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 6 When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” 2 Kings 4:3-7

Imagine the amazement the widow and her sons had while they witnessed this miracle of God’s provision. They gathered the empty jars and God faithfully and abundantly filled them all. They obeyed God, did the work required and God provided the oil.

What a great reminder for us. When your dreams are shattered and your hope begins to wane, when you’re tempted to lower your expectations and curb your enthusiasm, remember this faithful widow and consider these very practical actions modeled in this short passage.

  1. She knew Who to run to.

When you’re facing insurmountable obstacles to your dream remember that you serve a faithful God.

  1. She obeyed immediately.

Throughout the Bible we see an important truth illustrated over and over –

The Holy Spirit releases his power the moment you obey and take a step of faith. Your obedience unlocks God’s power.

Notice that the woman didn’t hesitate. She didn’t argue with Elisha. She did exactly what he told her to do immediately after he told her to do it. Faith believes that God will do what he says BEFORE it happens.

  1. God used what she already had.

Big moves of God are most often precipitated by our obedience in the small things. It requires hard work on our behalf. There is no easy road.

Faith is doing what you can do and trusting God to do what only He can do.

Bottles-Faith

Where do you desire God’s “oil” this year? What are you asking him to do that only He can do? What’s your responsibility in order to see this happen? What “jars” do you need to find? What work will this require from you?