Developing Life Flavors

One of the things I enjoy doing is cooking. One of the things I’ve learned is that foods taste better if you take the time to develop the flavors. That means that instead of adding onion and garlic later, I may start with them and let them sauté a bit in order to bring out more flavor. When I create a sauce to cook in, I may let it simmer a little longer so that it reduces. Doing that will intensify the flavor. To turn a recipe into a beloved dish, you have to take the time to develop and bring out the hidden flavors with heat and time. It’s more than simply adding ingredients.

I believe our lives are the same way. God wants to create amazing flavors in our lives that point others to Him. To do that, it requires Him to do things differently than our recipe. It also requires us to be put in the fire, sometimes longer than we care to be there. It’s really our choice how we respond. Do we give Him the freedom to bring out the flavors that are locked inside of us? Or do we allow those times to produce a bitter flavor that turns people away from us and Him? God’s desire is that each one of us would have complex, well developed flavors so that we’re not just another Christian.

James 1 tells us to consider it joy, even a gift, when trials and challenges come at us from all sides. In that pressure cooker, it releases hidden flavors into the world. In verse 4 he writes, “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (MSG). When things aren’t going right and life is coming at you hard, don’t run away. God is at work in you and pulling out flavors that were locked away and hidden before. He’s not going to allow these problems to overwhelm you. He knows what you can take and how long you can stay there. Trust His judgement and let Him do His Work in your life.

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Waiting On God

Have you ever felt ill equipped to do something? Maybe you did your part to get ready for it, but you didn’t have the right tools to be successful. I’ve had that happen before. I had to lead a meeting, but when I arrived to the location, there wasn’t a projector. If they couldn’t see my PowerPoint slides, they wouldn’t be able to understand what I was discussing. It was one of those moments where you have to get really creative or pray that someone had a spare projector somewhere. Thankfully that was the case and I was able to give them the info they needed.

When it comes to fulfilling your purpose, the same thing can happen. There’s only so much you can do before you need God to do what only He can do. The problems come when we stop being patient and start trying to get creative in doing God’s part. We try to equip ourselves for what He wants to accomplish through us, but like Saul’s armor on David, it doesn’t fit. I’ve found that moving forward before God has done His part often complicates things and can have long lasting consequences.

In Hebrews 13:21, the writer prays and reminds us, “May the God of peace provide you with every good thing you need in order to do his will” (GNT). You have a part and God has a part. Learn to do your part and then have patience while God does His. He will give you what you need when you need it. I know it feels like you need it sooner or that you need to step in and help Him, but wait on Him. The Bible is full of people who didn’t wait and tried to do God’s part. Today, purpose in your heart that you will trust God to provide the thing you’re missing to accomplish His will and that you will wait until He gives it to you.

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Finding Contentment

One of the dangers of social media is that it can create internal discontentment. What I mean by that is you can spend time looking at what other people are doing, eating or where they’re going and think your life is boring by comparison. You can look at the happy pictures they post and think that they’re always happy and never have trouble. The problem is what people are putting on social media is the life they want to show you. It’s not their whole life. What we end up doing is comparing our whole life to these snippets of their life and that creates discontentment in us and in who God made us to be.

God created you and uses life to sheep you more and more into a person who can have a greater impact on others. When we remove the lens of social media, and look at our life through God’s lens, we can see He has given us a unique ability to reach people who can’t be reached by others. I don’t think social media is bad, but we can’t use it as the lens through which we view our lives. We have to be content with how God created us, the personality He’s given us and where He’s placed us. That kind of contentment is truly trusting in His plan for you, and when we trust Him that much anything is possible.

Here are some Bible verses on being content.

1. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

Matthew 5:5 MSG

2. I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10 GNT

3. Don’t be obsessed with money but live content with what you have, for you always have God’s presence. For hasn’t he promised you, “I will never leave you alone, never! And I will not loosen my grip on your life!”

Hebrews 13:5 TPT

4. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.

Philippians 4:11 NLT

5. But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God].

1 TIMOTHY 6:6 AMP

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Praise In The Valley

In 2 Chronicles 20, several armies joined together to attack Judah (lower Israel in the divided kingdom). King Jehoshaphat was terrified and not sure what to do when he heard the news. He immediately sent out word to all the towns to send people to Jerusalem to fast and pray. While they were assembled, he prayed aloud for everyone to hear. In verse 12, he prayed something that is key for all of us to pray in such situations. He said, “We do not know what to do, but we look to you for help” (GNT).

Then, the Spirit of the Lord came on a Levite named Jahaziel. He spoke several things to them, but the part I want to focus on comes from verse 15. He said, “The Lord says you must not be discouraged or be afraid… The battle depends on God, not on you.” That should offer relief to you and I. The battles we are facing don’t depend on our ability, but God’s. We don’t have to be afraid of what we are facing because our God is bigger and more powerful.

The Israelites had to show up to the battle in order to win it according to the prophesy. The same is true for us. To calm his men down, King Jehoshaphat told them, “Put your trust in the Lord your God, and you will stand your ground. Believe what His prophets tell you, and you will succeed.” Faith is more than just showing up for the battle. It’s trusting what God says despite what you see. If we want success, we have to trust His report more than what our eyes and others tell us.

What happened next is incredible and also a great lesson for us. The king ordered that they praise the Lord for the victory before the battle! When they began to praise, it threw the enemy into a panic and they defeated themselves. They renamed the valley “Baracah” which means the valley of praise. Praise is one of our most powerful weapons. We need to use it before our battles because God dwells in the praises of His people. God can turn your valley of fear and desperation to a valley of praise if you will look to Him, depend on His ability, show up for the battle, and praise Him.

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Closing Wounds

If you know me or have followed this site for a while, you know my story. I was deep.y wounded by the person I trusted most in the world. For years, I held onto that pain to the point that it was keeping me from living the life God wanted me to. Then God spoke to me through an evangelist. He said, “It’s in your scars that others will find their healing.” I spent months going back through the wound and letting it go so that God could bring healing into my own life first.

I think that one of the greatest tragedies in life isn’t that people hurt us, it’s that we carry those wounds with us to the point that they limit us. When we allow our identity to be found in our wounds, we minimize who we are in Christ. Doing that keeps the wound open and we walk through life with this raw emotion that allows us to stay hurt and keeps us from making deep connections with people. We are not called to live in fear of people. We are called to love them.

Hebrews 12:1 says, “As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us” (TPT). When we let go of our wounds, they begin to heal. When they heal, they create scars. People don’t find healing in our wounds, they find healing in our scars.

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Whose Life Is It?

Have you ever had to borrow someone’s car that was nicer than yours? How did you drive it? For me, I had my hands at 10 and 2 the whole time. I took extra caution because I didn’t want to wreck it. If it had been my car I was driving, I would have just used one hand on the wheel and been less cautious when driving. Why is that? I think it’s more to do with the ownership of it than the familiarity. If I wreck it, then it was mine to wreck. It’s a whole different story if I wreck something that belongs to someone else.

Now think about the decisions you make regarding your life. For many of us, we treat them like we do driving our own car. It’s our life and our decisions, so if I mess it up, at least it was my life that I messed up. With that kind of thinking, we tend to make quick decisions with less thought than we would if we were giving that advice to someone regarding their life. Can I challenge that link of thinking for a minute? Your life is not your own. You were bought with a price, so it is no longer your life you live, but Christ’s. Sound familiar? Check out 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 if not.

Thinking about that, let’s look at Proverbs 28:25. It says, “To make rash, hasty decisions shows that you are not trusting the Lord. But when you rely totally on God, you will still act carefully and prudently” (TPT). Are you trusting the Lord with your life? Do you believe that it belongs to Him? Then we need to take our time with the decisions we make regarding it and seek His wisdom. It’s time we started treating our lives like they belong to someone else. God created you with a purpose and has a plan for you and your life. Today, instead of making decisions like it’s your life, ask God what His plan is for you.

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Beyond The Horizon

While watching the recent lunar eclipse online, I learned some new things from the astrophysics who were giving a play by play. One of the things was that from the time you see the sun touch the horizon, until it goes down, you are not really seeing the sun. You are actually seeing a reflection of the sun that has already dipped below the horizon. Because of air density and the curvature of the earth, it creates a mirage that reflects an image of the sun back above the horizon. So when you’re watching a sunset with the sun going below the horizon, you’re actually looking beyond the horizon.

I think that’s pretty cool because until that point, i thought we could only see as far as the horizon. When you read Hebrews 11, you read about the great heroes of our faith. They were the men and women who trusted God without seeing what He was talking about. That’s really what faith is. If you could see what you believe in, it’s not really faith. Trusting God is following where He leads before there is anything there to see. It’s truly looking beyond your visual limitations and seeing into the future.

Hebrews 11:13 says, “These heroes all died still clinging to their faith, not even receiving all that had been promised them. But they saw beyond the horizon the fulfillment of their promises and gladly embraced it from afar” (TPT). What has God been asking you to do that’s beyond your current vision? It may be over the horizon, but if He’s asking you to move towards it. Trust the vision of what you truly can’t see at this moment, and start acting in faith. The life God has called us to is always beyond the horizon. It’s up to us to trust in what He can see more than what we can see.

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