“MY CHILD, GET UP!”

Guest Post!  Brittany lives in Brownsboro, Alabama with her husband, Jonathan, and their mischievous wiener dog, Luci.  She is a coffee and music enthusiast, but enjoys her time with good friends and family the most.  Brittany is on a spiritual and personal growth journey to live life with purpose, discover the vast goodness of God, and find joy amidst life’s craziness.  She is passionate about living in freedom and helping others find it.

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“Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.”  Luke 8:41-42 (NIV)

Have you ever experienced a season in your life where your circumstances left you feeling spiritually lifeless, and emotionally (or physically) knocked down?  Sometimes our circumstances leave us in a state of hopelessness, and it becomes very difficult to get up and face our troubles with the perseverance God calls us to.  When I look at this story of Jairus, he must’ve been absolutely devastated over losing his beloved daughter.  His life in this moment was in total disarray, as his friends and family were mourning his daughter’s death, and people were urging him to give up.  But he didn’t—and God honored his faith.  Oh what I would give to have a faith like Jairus!  But oftentimes, when I should be fixing my eyes on Jesus, I fix my eyes on my problems instead.

“Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.’  When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother.  Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. ‘Stop wailing,’ Jesus said. ‘She is not dead but asleep.’  They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.  But he took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’  Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up.”  Luke 8:51-55 (NIV)

Last year, as the hours drew to a close on my New Year’s Eve of 2015, I was in the midst of losing my pregnancy.  By New Year’s Day my worst nightmare had come true and I was left looking into a new year with only sadness and disappointment.  It was a miserable start to a brand new year and like the people who had given up on Jairus’ daughter, I had given up on any hope of a prosperous future in 2016.  It would be a year stained with sadness and loss, and I was struggling to keep my eyes focused on Jesus.

Thankfully our Redeemer always has a plan for us, even in the midst of our brokenness.

One particular morning that followed my loss, I woke up with intense body aches everywhere.  It felt like a bad case of the flu, but I chalked it up as being just a physical manifestation of my heartache.  I continued to lay in bed grief-stricken and spirit-broken, and I wondered if I’d get up at all that day.  But as I lay there in anguish, I realized I really didn’t care either way.

And then I heard a voice.

It was that still, small voice we often hear about and it was commanding very plainly, “Get up.”

At first I ignored it.  I mean, I knew what I had heard.  But who was I kidding??  I couldn’t get up! I was devastated, my heart shattered into a million pieces.  And if the emotional pain wasn’t enough, now I was in physical pain too.  No way was I getting up out of that bed.

Then I heard the voice calling again, saying, “Get up.”

Despite my unwillingness, I decided to obey and I got up.  Immediately, I began to feel physically better.  All those body aches that were provoking my misery in bed that morning started going away.  And in a matter of minutes my physical pain had completely dissipated.   I knew right then that it could only be God; there was no other explanation.  And every day forward I got up, and God brought His strength, grace and mercy – just as He always does.

“Don’t be afraid, just believe, and she will be healed.”  In the midst of his tragedy, Jairus did not give up.  When everything around him looked finished, a done deal, all hope lost, he still believed that Jesus could heal his daughter.  And Jesus, being the amazing God he is, tells him, “Don’t be afraid,” and gives assurance of healing through Jairus’ faith.  You see, despite whatever season we are in, God still has a plan for us.  And he calls his children to rise up in the midst of our circumstances, so that He can activate his higher purpose through us.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)

No matter what you may face in this season or the next, God doesn’t want you to stay down.  He wants you to have faith and believe in Him, so that your healing can come.  As he shows us in the story of Jairus’ daughter, we have to get back up after we’ve been knocked down in order for our spirit to return, so that we can take our stand against the devil face-to-face from a position of victory.

I ponder back on how the devil’s intent was to keep me in that bed, suffering in sorrow for as long as possible.  But God had a plan to use my circumstances for His purposes.  We cannot remain in our suffering, because when we do, we are ineffective for the kingdom. So when God calls to you, “My child, get up,” take hold of His hand. Because even though you cannot see it, God is beginning a new work inside of you in fulfillment of his divine plan.

As a dear friend said recently, “It’s human to go to a place of brokenness…but you can’t stay there.”  She’s right.  You have to keep getting back up no matter what the enemy throws at you. Because as long as you stay down, you are no threat to him. But when you get up – oh how he trembles!

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  Romans 5:1-4 (NIV)


Father, thank you for relentlessly calling out for us to “Get up!” on days where the events of life are just too much to bear.  Thank you that we can depend on your strength when our own fails.  And thank you that your plan is at work even when all we can see is chaos.  Help us to remember that what is intended for harm, you turn around for your good.


All God’s best,

Brittany

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God We Put Our Hope In You Alone

What does your heart hope for most this Christmas season? Toys, clothes, money, the kids to go to bed early and behave, a cure, a sober dad, healing to a broken relationship, one more year…world peace?

The people of Israel had hope of a Savior; a Messiah. Can you imagine living in a time when we weren’t saved by the grace of God? It’s hard for me to imagine this, especially considering how removed we are from those times, but this is a reality even today for some. Many people today do in fact live without the hope of a Savior; they live a life of not knowing, loving, and having a relationship with God.

Tradition and law held the Israelites captive to rituals and rules. But Jesus came and changed all of that. He literally shook the foundation that people of His time stood upon through His death and resurrection. Forever ripping the veil that separated us from God. Prior to that, we stood on one side of the veil, slaves to and covered in sin, but His blood washed our sin away. (Can I get a good Thank You Jesus?) His perfect sacrifice made us righteous with God. The Greek word for righteous is dikaios, meaning “just in the eyes of God.” What better gift could we hope for???

I feel like saying “Boom, drop the mic” here…but, God’s gifts didn’t start with Jesus’ death, but were sanctified in it. His gifts started long before that, with the birth of His precious son. Jesus’ birth represents the beginning of our eternal love, our eternal hope, our eternal salvation. Jesus’ birth and life was necessary to teach us about God and to usher us to a deepened faith in God. He taught of God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness. What gifts! It’s hard not to feel blessed with gifts like these, especially in the times of today.

Whatever struggles you face this holiday season, or any day of the year, remember who was born for you…yes YOU!

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest upon his shoulders.  And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

I’d like to encourage you (and me) today…put your hope in the Lord. I’ll be the first to admit that I am guilty of putting my hope elsewhere…how many times I have thought: “I hope this time will be different,” “I hope my situations get better,” “I hope I win the lottery and don’t have to work anymore.” Hope in the world, people, or things quickly fades. But what if we put our hope in a Savior, that was born and died for us, a Savior who is the mighty warrior defeating the greatest of enemies for us, a Savior who continues to advocate for us even today. I’m going to put my hope in that person…the mighty Savior who seeks the weak who are seeking Him. A loving Father who forgives me again, and again…and again!

Are you struggling with hope? Can you not find your hope in this crazy world? May I offer a suggestion…lean on God, the source of hope:

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Again, what are you hoping for this Christmas? What is that one thing you long for in this season of hope? Personally I am hoping Christmas is magical, and not the Disney World kind of magical. Wait…No! Not magical! I’m hoping Christmas is a miracle! God I put my hope in the miracle of you and your mighty son alone. Jesus!

 Love,

Olivia

Go Tell It on the Mountain!

Go tell it on the mountain, Jesus Christ is born!
Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain, Jesus Christ it born!

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I recently woke up one night with these lyrics stuck in my head.  You know those nights, right?  I probably replayed this track dozens of times in my head (it would have been nice if I knew more of the words!)…so what did I do?  Normally, I would toss and turn for hours wishing I could just go back to sleep.  But that wasn’t the case this night.  This night I decided to grab a pen, and go tell it on a blog…Jesus Christ is born y’all!

So here’s a funny twist to the story; we’ll call it God twist number one… I cannot remember the last time I heard this song.  It’s probably been since the prior Christmas season.  If I have heard it recently I do not recall, and I’m not the type to sit around and listen to Christmas music all day, so I feel like I would remember…but obviously I was sleep deprived, so who knows…I digress…

Anyways, God twist number two:  Just that morning, approximately 17 hours earlier, I had done the “random flip-open of the Bible” to see what message God might have for me.  Now don’t get ahead of me… but, yes, you are correct, it was a story about the birth of Jesus!  Matthew Chapter 2 to be exact.

Something that really struck me about this passage was about the wise men who came bearing gifts.  They brought extremely valuable gifts in those days… Frankincense, Myrrh, and Gold.  Upon their departure to return home, God spoke to them in a dream and told them to return via a different route, so as not to cross paths with King Herrod again.


Finding Jesus may require us, as believers, to take different paths in life than we ever may have intended. 


Following God’s will for us requires trust and obedience (two things I personally struggle with greatly!).  Those are the gifts that we can give to our Heavenly Father (along with worship, praise, prayer, loving Him and others, etc.).  It’s not Frankincense, Myrrh or Gold, but these gifts are so precious to our Father!  And in return He gives us some pretty precious gifts as well, like salvation, righteousness, faith, peace, hope, joy, love, etc.

So this Christmas season, as we gather and celebrate our Lord Jesus’ birth and give gifts to each other, let us not forget the gifts He has given us.  May we remember not just on December 25th, but all the days of our life from the moment we step out on that path that, perhaps, we never intended to take when we became believers and followers of Christ.

I wonder, if you reflect on your journey, how has it changed through seeking Jesus? What gifts do you give Jesus daily?  What gifts do you feel you receive most?  Do you share these gifts with others?

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday Jesus!

Olivia

P.S. – Comments feel like a hug, pleases let us know if you enjoy our blog.  You can post on the blog site itself or on our Facebook page.

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

~Matthew 2:10-11

Does Your Heart Need a Fertility Treatment?

When God sprinkles seeds on your heart, what kind of soil will catch them? Is your heart fertile enough to produce a crop?

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:15)

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Recently, in the Proverbs 31 First5 app, we studied chapter 8 in Luke. The “parable of the sower” really struck something deep in my soul.  How fertile is my heart?

For those of you who may not be familiar with the parable, I’ll sum it up for you.  Jesus tells about a farmer who went out and scattered his seed. Some fell on the walking path, where they were trampled. Some fell on rocky ground, where they couldn’t get enough water. Others fell among the thorns that choked the plants as they grew. And then, some of them fell on good soil, where the crop yielded a hundred times more than was sown. (Luke 8: 4-8, summarized)

When the people didn’t understand how to relate this parable to their own lives, Jesus explained further in verses 11-15. The seed is the word of God. How often are these seeds thrown at us? And how fertile is the soil where it lands?

Luke 8: 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

I know I’ve certainly had a “path” heart, where the word would get trampled and lost before it could take root in my life. I definitely wasn’t doing anything to make sure it didn’t get taken away. I’ve experienced a rocky heart as well. There were times when I’d be in church on a Sunday and feel filled with the Spirit, but by mid-week, I was back to my old ways—feeling like the world was crashing all around me. Any little thing that went wrong in my life would lead me away from God instead of toward Him. Most recently, my heart was filled with thorns. (If you missed that post, you can read about that here.)  I was stagnant in my spiritual maturity. The thorns were shaped like dollar bills, big houses, new cars, busyness, pride, control, and fear.  Those thorns were choking out any goodness being planted in my heart. With all of these (very worldly) thorns, how could the word of God ever take root and get enough nutrition in my heart to flourish?

So how can you give your heart a fertility treatment so that the seeds of God’s word can produce a crop that yields one hundred times more than what is sewn? I know it can seem impossible when you feel like your heart is rocky, thorny, or worn down like a trampled path. First, recognize the condition of your heart. Maybe yours is a combination of all of these scenarios. Maybe you can recognize what the thorns look like, but maybe you just feel more worn down and can’t really see what is choking out the nutrition of God’s word. Either way—take some time to figure it out. I think it’s fair to say we all want blessings. And I’d go so far as to say none of us would turn down the opportunity to receive one hundred times more than what God plants in our hearts.

So let me draw your attention to verse 15 again: But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. What’s the key to a fertile heart? Perseverance. Be noble and seek the good in everything. Be sure to read the Bible, hear the Word—seek it out!  Retain it by seeing it often—write down scriptures on notecards and place them all around your house. Find a good devotional (if you can’t think of one, try the First5 app; it’s wonderful). Surrender all those thorns! Seek His word every day and ponder the words in your heart. Meditate on the message you feel God is giving you.

And then…persevere. Persevere: continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. It is then that His Word will produce a crop. And if you just continue to seek Him, you will reap one hundred times more than what he has sewn in your fertile heart.

May your hearts be fertile, my friends!

Love,
Jamie