Maximum Capacity

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I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”Psalm 39:1

A friend recently confided in me about a “family situation” she was dealing with. She had reached her limit. She knew she had to remove herself from the “situation” or the outcome would not be desirable. I told her that “we all reach our maximum capacity to extend grace” every now and then. Ever been there? Reached your maximum capacity? Did you know you were about to get pushed over the edge and remove yourself from the situation or did you blow and then realize it was too late? Oh, the tongue can be an ugly – vile tool, but when the heart is healthy it sings praises and gives encouragement.

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. James 3:5

As our relationship with the Heavenly Father grows,  it gets easier to see when we need to step back and find restoration in God. It becomes more bearable to be a peacemaker and as Christie Love (founder of LeadHer.org) says “breath grace into others”. I love that image, but I know there are many situations that without God I would be breathing a lot, but it wouldn’t be grace. I need Him. I need Him to recognize when I am about to meet my maximum capacity. I need Him to help me recharge and refocus. I need Him to help me “breath grace into others”. I have realized, after many years of trying, I can not do it without Him!

Although, I know there will be times, my heart will surprise me. Will sneak up on me. Will rise up and respond in a way I never intended. That is when I will fall to my knees and ask God to keep working and thank Him for never giving up on me.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. James 3:9-12

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New Wardrobe

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You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

I went to visit a sick friend recently. I had a lot on my plate that day, but going by to visit her was a priority. In an effort to fit everything in, I skipped the shower, threw my hair up and put on my workout clothes. At least if I didn’t look my best – others would think the reason was because I had been working out, right?!

This experience reminded me that, when we become Christians, God calls us to “put off our old self” and “put on the new self”. Not, to cover up the bad stuff or the “old self” and pretend you have been made new, but to be made new in Him. What does that look like?

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18

It’s authentic joy that brings us such delight we can’t help but throw off the workout clothes, jump in the shower and put on make-up! It’s a peace and contentment that has no worldly explanation. That makes no sense, but feels so right. It’s mercy and grace that flows from places that used to harbor only resentment and greed. It’s pure and good. It’s the Holy Spirit residing in us and shining for all to see.

We keep the “old self” off by staying in tune with God. By reading His Word. The Greek literal translation for “The Word” means face-to-face relationship. When we sit down with the Bible and read through it, we are face to face with our Heavenly Father. Isn’t that a beautiful image? Face-to-face with our Lord and Savior anytime we desire.

Father, create in us a strong desire to seek you daily. To seek your face through your word and conversation with You. We thank you for the power you have given us to keep on the new and live authentic Christian lives for Your glory. Amen

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. Colossians 1:9

The Wait

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This is the tree I wanted to cut down when we first moved into this house. It stands in the middle of the yard. It’s place doesn’t make any sense. In fact, it’s out of place and in the way. How wrong I was about this tree. After time. After being here in this house and seeing this tree in every season. I realize it’s my favorite tree. Look at it now. In the middle of February it is blooming beautiful white flowers in the midst of a dreary winter backdrop. In the fall, it is the most vibrant color of yellow and looks like a burning bush when the suns hits it in the afternoon. Its leaves hang on when the others are falling and they are the last to give up and fall to the ground.

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

This tree reminds me of the characteristics of God that we sometimes forget when things get busy, difficult or desperate. Our God stands in center of it all. In the center of OUR lives. His glory and beautiful promises of rest, peace, mercy and protection shine during the dark and cold moments of life. We want to hurry past the hard stuff. Get through it. Move on. We don’t like the pruning. The wait. It’s hard. It hurts. It doesn’t make sense. But, it’s in the wait that God shines the brightest. Where we grow the most. It’s in the harshest of life’s challenges He endures and uses His power to produce fruit when all odds seem against it. Nothing is impossible for Him. Nothing! He offers hope. The hope that greater things are to come. Hope that happiness will triumph over sadness and despair. Hope that forgiveness will enter and reign in a bitter heart. Hope that peace will prevail over our weary and stressful lives. Hope that love will conquer all in our lives.

But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right—everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.Isaiah 30:18 (The Message)

God is the solid rock that we can build our lives on. It’s His Word that should be the foundation of our lives. To me, this tree symbolizes strength, endurance, steadfastness, grace and beauty. When we live with God’s power within us He enables us to live these characteristics out daily. I pray your lives are filled with God’s strength – not your own. With His Mighty endurance as we run the race. With a steady and unchanging desire to seek Him daily and with the grace and beauty to handle conflict and share love with others as Christ did for us.

God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul,Psalm 62:1 (The Message)

Hearts Wide Open

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“You run and hide. I’ll count to twenty before I come find you.”, I said.  “Mommy, that won’t work. There is no place to hide out here.”, my children argued. They were right. In a wide open field there aren’t many places to hide unless you are dressed in camouflage.

My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:20-23

I began to think about my heart and the hearts of family and friends. How often we hide things away in our hearts trying to forget them or pretend they aren’t there. We are especially quick to hide guilt, shame, anger, unforgiveness, resentment and pride because we know it is unpleasing to the Lord. We want to hide it from others so they don’t judge us and we want to hide it from God because we are either afraid He will make us deal with it or be disappointed with us that we haven’t turned it over to Him. Keeping our hearts wide open so there is no place for Satan build a stronghold is vital and for his lies to hide, but there is another important thing we should NOT hide away.

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, LORD, as you know. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness  from the great assembly. Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. Psalm 40:9-11

We should never hide our praise and thanks to the Lord for His gifts, mercies, blessings and trials. We should never pass up an opportunity to share a kind word, a prayer or a smile with someone we pass by or someone who God places in our path. It is easy to hide and head in the other direction because we are in a hurry, we are embarrassed or uncomfortable but we should never purposefully conceal God’s love from anyone. Is your heart wide open today? Wide open and willing to receive the Holy Spirit’s direction and power. Don’t just store up all of God’s treasures in your heart ~ share them with those around you so that they can experience the amazing gift of His grace, love and mercy. I pray our hearts remain wide open. Wide open so there is no place for Satan’s to harbor his lies and wide open to share the love of Christ with all those we come in contact with.

Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.Jeremiah 23:24

Please forgive my blog

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For the past two days my blog has posted on it’s own. I’m sorry for the inconvenience and littering of your e-mail inbox. I am in touch with the WordPress support team and hope to have this resolved today so you will be back to only receiving one blog a week. A blog I have actually written and one that is current and not from two months ago. 🙂

Thank you for your patience and support!

Allison

allisonTcain.com