If The Shoe Fits . . .

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“Just because the shoe may fit that doesn’t mean you buy it.”

Have you ever been shoe shopping with someone and wish you’d brought along a good book?  Too high, too flat, too dressy, too casual, too drab, too showy, not the right shade of red or purple – or black or brown?  And then you hear it – “Perfect!” – and you feel like breaking out in the Hallelujah Chorus.  They may have tried on a hundred pairs of shoes that actually fit, but they just weren’t “right”.

Now, have you ever heard these words?  “Can’t you do anything right?’  “You’ll never amount to anything.”  “Why can’t you be like so-and-so?”  “You’ll always be a failure.”  If you’ve ever been the recipient of statements like these, it probably wasn’t a once in a lifetime deal.  You’ve heard them over and over and over, not only verbally but ringing inside your head.  After a while these words take their toll and you start believing you can’t do anything right, or you try to be like so-and-so, or do whatever it takes to “prove” ourself – usually to no avail.  Sometimes the enemy comes at us the same way.  “You know this isn’t going to work.  Everything else you’ve done has failed.”  “You just don’t have what it takes.”  “Do you really think God cares about you?”

What does this have to do with shoes fitting?  Bear with me!

No matter who the offender may be, way too many times we buy into their perceptions of who we are.  We buy into the fact we’ll never be good enough, that we’ll always be a failure.  We spend our lives walking in shoes that may “fit” according to the world’s standards and other people’s opinions, but deep down there are times when we want to try on a different pair of shoes.  If this is you, then it’s time to go shoe shopping.  It’s time to change your perspective and what you’re buying into, and the best way to do that is to buy into what God says about you.  I encourage you to get into your Bible and find scriptures about who God says that you are, but here are a few for starters:  He calls you friend (John 15:15).  You’re awesomely and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14).  You’re a child of the most-high God (Romans 8:16).  You’re a joint heir with Jesus (Romans 8:17).  You are loved (1 John 3:1).  Perfect fit!

I love this quote from Toni Sorenson:  “Even if the shoe fits, that doesn’t mean I’m going to wear it; I don’t want to wear somebody else’s smelly old shoe.  I’d rather go barefoot.”  Just because the shoe may fit (according to the world’s standards) doesn’t mean you buy it.

Are you wearing shoes that don’t fit?

Unopened Gifts

“Jesus answered her, If you had only known and had recognized God’s gift and Who this is that is saying to you, Give me a drink, you would have asked Him [instead] and He would have given you living water.”  John 4:10 (AMP)

When my grandson turned two years old we all got together to celebrate – mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.  Needless to say lots of presents came through the door with the guests.  He began to open his presents and was actually more interested in what he had just opened instead of jumping right into opening the next present.  After opening several gifts, he was having to be coaxed to open the rest of them because he was ready to play!

However, suppose he had been unwilling to be “coaxed”, stopped opening presents and just started playing with what he already had.  Would the unopened gifts no longer be his?  Would the “giftees” have taken the unopened presents back home because he hadn’t opened them?  Certainly not!  Nor would this have been a show of ungratefulness on his part; he just wanted to enjoy what he already head.  However, he would’ve had no idea what those other gifts contained until he opened them.

The above scripture is a familiar one and a story many people are well acquainted with – “The Woman at the Well.”  Many sermons have been preached from different aspects of this story.  As I was recently reading this passage two words really grabbed my attention – “God’s gift.”  Another scripture quickly came to mind as well, John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son . . .”

As Christians we are well aware of the fact that we have been given eternal life through Jesus Christ.  It’s a gift we eagerly received and have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy throughout all eternity.  It’s a gift most of us probably didn’t struggle to receive.  However, that’s not the only gift God gave us through His son, Jesus.

Isaiah 61 and Luke 4 tells us that He came “to preach the good news to the poor” – that’s God’s means of bring salvation to everyone who believe; to “announce release to the captives” – that’s freedom; “recovery of sight to the blind” – that’s healing both physically and mentally; and to release those who are oppressed (crushed, downtrodden, bruised and broken) – that’s deliverance.  Isaiah 53:5 tells us we have peace and healing through Jesus, yet so many of us struggle with all of these other gifts.  They’re like presents we’ve left unopened because we’re content just enjoying His gift of salvation.  We find it difficult to use our faith to open these gifts because we tend to be moved by the physical and not what God’s Word tell us.

I encourage you to search the Bible to find scriptures that you can stand on; God’s promises that you can apply to your situation.  Take God as His Word; apply your faith and open these other gifts God has given you through the ultimate gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.  I assure you He will never take them back.  They’ve been freely given, now freely receive.  Don’t be satisfied with just the few gifts from God you’ve received.  Open them all and walk in the fullness of God.

What are you doing with the gifts God has given you?

It’s Vital

“Abiding in Christ is a vital necessity in our Christian walk. That is what sustains our spiritual life.”

Have you ever read a scripture in the Bible before – one that you’ve probably read several times – and all of a sudden you see something you’ve never seen before?  As I was reading John 15 recently in the Amplified Bible, this word “vital” seemed to jump off the page at me.    It’s not an uncommon word, and not one that we often give much thought to.  We have vital organs (the ones that are indispensable and we can’t live without).  Food, water and rest are vital in order to sustain life.  Babies, the elderly and disabled require care from others – this is vital to sustain their lives.  Combat gear is vital to those going into a war zone.  Something that is vital is something that’s absolutely necessary, of utmost importance, essential and required to sustain life.

Then I began to think about my everyday life.  Do I do what’s vitally important every day, or do I go through the motions and do those things that I think demand my attention every day?  If you had three buckets – a “Vital” bucket, an “Important” bucket and an “If there’s time” bucket – how would you categorize the things you do in a day, or even a week, using these buckets?  Of course nourishment for our bodies is vital, taking care of our children is vital, and then you have house work, laundry, yard work – and the list goes on.  As we begin to fill up these buckets, we may find that we may need to re-prioritize some things, like which bucket does God go in?

I can’t stress to you how vital it is to spend time with the Lord, but I want to take it a step further.  John 15 – the vine and branches – is a chapter that’s very familiar.  (Sometimes it makes us a little uncomfortable when we read about the branches that are cut off.)  However, there are two words I want to focus on in this chapter – dwell (or abide in KJV) and vital (which is used in the Amplified version).  Verses 4 and 5 read “Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you.  [Live in Me, and I will live in you.]  Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.  I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit.  However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.”  The King James Version says “Abide in Me” which means to stay, dwell, or continue.  Our home is where we dwell, it’s our permanent residence.  Christ should be our “permanent residence” as well.  It should be of vital importance that we dwell in Him and are vitally united to Him.  When we dwell in Him, He’s in every part of our life, 24/7.  He guides and directs us, He nourishes us – as a matter of fact Psalm 23 pretty much sums it up.

We can’t walk in the fullness of God and live a victorious life if we’re not vitally dwelling in Him.  In 2 Chronicles 20:2 (this is one of my favorite chapters) Jehoshaphat “set himself [determinedly, as his vital need] to seek the Lord”.  I encourage you to read the whole chapter, but he wins the battle – without lifting a sword!  Where you decide to “dwell” is a decision only you can make.  You can be satisfied with visiting every now and then, “if there’s time”, or you can decide to make Christ your permanent residence – this is what sustains our spiritual life.  Where will you decide to live?

“If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.”

John 15:8 (Amplified)

Resolution – or Revolution

It’s a new year, a time for new beginnings, fresh starts, losing weight, changing bad habits, etc, etc, etc.  Unfortunately all too often our good intentions fall by the way side much sooner that we’d like to admit.

I was watching a movie on TV not along ago where a small town was preparing for their first New Year’s Eve celebration.  As the children were preparing for their part in the festivities one of the students asked her teacher if there was going to be a war on New Years.  The teacher looked rather puzzled and replied no, why did she ask.  The child responded “I heard there was going to be a New Year’s revolution.”

As I began to look at these two words, I began to wonder if maybe the two aren’t more closely related that we might think.  “Revolution” is defined as a sudden change.  We usually think of this in the context of government, or something on a much bigger scale than on an individual standpoint.  When we “resolve” to make certain changes in our lives they may actually start out in a revolutionary way, jumping into the deep end of the pool without a plan – sink or swim.  If we find ourselves sinking, we become overwhelmed and frustrated, and then condemnation raises its ugly head and we admit defeat.

I’m sure there have been more articles, blogs and how-tos written on how to make your New Year’s resolutions successful than you can shake a stick out, so I’m not going to give you a list of dos and don’ts.  However, I would like to give you a couple of things to think about . . .

  1. Pray for wisdom.  Proverbs 2:1-11 speaks a lot about wisdom.  Bring the areas of change you’d like to make to God and ask for wisdom on how to obtain your goals.  Follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit as he prompts you and directs you in the steps you need to take to be successful.  Proverbs 3:5 & 6 tells us to trust in the Lord with all of our heart, not in our own understanding, and He will direct our paths.
  2. Stand your ground.  There will be times when the enemy will come against you and your flesh will want to rebel, but you are an overcomer.  The Christian life is not all about smooth sailing.  Opposition will come and we have to be prepared.  Find scriptures that you can stand on when “stuff” starts to come against you.  Here are a few to get you started:  Philippians 4:13, I John 4:4, I Corinthians 15:57.

I believe these two things are key ingredients to being successful.  As long as we are following God’s plan for our life and seeking His guidance, we can be assured that He is with us and we can rely on Him to direct our paths.

As you make your resolutions for the new year, are you willing to see if they are in agreement with God’s plan, and if not are you willing to put your plans aside and follow His lead?