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Song Of The Day | Christina Grimmie – In Christ Alone

Christina Grimmie was killed during an autograph session after a performance in Florida this past Friday.

Christina, a YouTube sensation who went on to success as a Top 3 contestant on The Voice, described herself as a “full-on Christian who loves Jesus” and loved the Bible.

Several outlets are reporting that the motive behind her murder may have been her outspoken faith in Christ.

The Santa Monica Observer shared what T.J. Wilkins, another Voice competitor, wrote: “What I’ll remember most about you is our conversation about faith and the love of Christ.”

Christina wasn’t shy about sharing her faith, or tweeting it:

A GoFundMe page was set up to help Christina’s family with final expenses. To date it has surpassed the goal of $4000, raising over $123,000 – a testament to the love so many people had for her.

Our prayers, thoughts and love are with Christina’s family and close friends.<3

 

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You Are Immeasurable

When San Francisco singer / songwriter Martay read Angela McMichael‘s book Immeasurable, she picked up her guitar and wrote this song.

It’s a positive and encouraging message to our daughters, wives, sisters, mothers and friends–to every woman, in every corner of this broken world. (And many of us men, as well!)

“Why would you ever believe the lies of him who hates you?
Believe the words of Him who made you…”


“…The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7b

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In addition to her music, Check out Martay’s blog where she tackles subjects like anxiety, comparison, bitterness, busyness, dating and more.

More:
Martay
We Are Immeasurable
Immeasurable – The Book

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Quick Thought: But God…

The enemy will try to use even your friends or family to separate you from God, discourage and knock you off mission.

But God uses even your enemies to draw you closer to Him, lift your heart and bring you to your place of divine destiny.

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”
2 Chronicles 16:9

(See also: Joseph.)

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I. Still. Believe.

People ask me from time to time how I can still believe for things that have seemed so completely hopeless for years.

I love this question. It gives me an opportunity to share my unwavering faith in a God who specializes in the “impossible.”

“Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.
– Romans 4:20-21

I didn’t always have this kind of faith.

Actually, I don’t always have this kind of faith.

Believe me, there are many days, when I feel much closer to the Centurion than Peter.

In fact, there aren’t too many days that I don’t think those very words, “I believe, help my unbelief.”

I grew up reading the stories about these men and women of great faith and thinking, “well, that’s not me.”

It discouraged me tremendously.

See, I wanted to believe that kind of faith was possible, but it didn’t feel very real to me. At least not in my life.

Looking back though, I realize that, by definition, I had no faith.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
– Hebrews 11:1

The truth is, I pretty much only believed in what I could see.

I believed in my circumstances.

I believed in my feelings.

I believed in things I could define, in what I could understand.

Too often my feelings told me that my circumstances proved God wasn’t there and didn’t care. When the exact opposite was true. (And still is.)

Those tough times were opportunities to build my faith, for me to trust and obey and for God to show himself to be real and active in my life.

God always uses the challenges in our lives to build our faith, bring us closer to Him and do great things in and through us.

– God’s glory was demonstrated to both His people and enemies when David had the courage to face Goliath.
– Mary and Martha had to suffer the loss of their brother, Lazarus, to really understand Jesus’ love for them.
– Paul and Silas had to be imprisoned to bring the jailer and his whole family to Jesus.
– The apostles had to be in the middle of a storm for Jesus to calm it.
– The man had to be born blind for Jesus to heal him, and more importantly, reveal himself to him.
– The disciples had to live through the pain of watching jesus die, to experience the joy of his resurrection.

Listen, if we want to be men and women of great faith–we’re going to be put in some circumstances that require great faith.

There is no other way.

There are no short cuts.

It’s gotta be lived through, tried by fire, earned in battle,

Now, even stepping in to those circumstances, and each step through them, requires some faith.

We need enough faith to obey.

That’s the critical first step, the key to our breakthrough.

Do we have enough faith to obey?

Even when it isn’t what we want to do?
Even if we’ll lose some friends?
Even if it hurts?
Even if it makes no sense to us?

Joshua had faith that God’s unorthodox battle plan would work. But how much more faith did he have when it actually did?

That’s the reward on the other side.

Charles Spurgeon said, “Faith is the fountain, the foundation, the fosterer of obedience.”

It is also true that obedience leads to greater faith.

See, I believed that God could, but wasn’t quite convinced that He would. So I did what I wanted. I did what was most expedient for me. I did not obey.

Today, I am striving to do what God says. To do it His way, no matter the cost.

From an earthly perspective it might seem more convenient and comfortable to find my own solution, but I know how that ends.

And please don’t believe that God understands our disobedience and that He’s okay with it. That we can blow off what God says because “our situation is special.” That we are some sort of an “exception.”

That is a lie straight from Hell. A lie that’s tempting to believe because it feels so good.

But God warns against doing what we think is right, over and over again in His word: Proverbs 14:12, Proverbs 3:5-7, Jeremiah 17:39.

God is never ok with our disobedience.

Don’t trust books, gurus, experts, TV preachers or blog writers. Check with the Word.

Even well-meaning Christian friends and family will encourage us to choose our own path, in direct contradiction to what God’s Word tells us, by saying things like, “Hey God wants us to be happy.”

And He no doubt does. But the path to the joy He has for us–peace that we can’t comprehend–isn’t in choosing our own way. It’s in exercising enough faith to obey.

Its trusting that if I do what God says, I will always be better off. And that my obedience will bring glory to God and point others toward Him.

So, back to that original question. How can we trust enough to obey, even through the hardest of times, when there seems to be no hope?

The writer of Hebrews tells us, “By faith Abraham obeyed…

We just have to have enough faith to obey. That faith is rewarded with confidence in God and deeper faith. And the process, the journey, is key, as Paul reminds us, because it ultimately ends in the hope we’re so desperately searching for:

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope..”
– Romans 5:3-4

And know this, God is trustworthy. There’s a purpose to your pain. Whatever you’re walking through right now, He’s got this.

For King & Country put it this way in their new song, Shoulders:

You mend what once was shattered
And You turn my tears to laughter
Your forgiveness is my fortress
Oh Your mercy is relentless

MORE: Charles Spurgeon’s mind blowing message on Faith

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Bitterness Is Killing Us

Bitterness is a lie, a trick, a trap.

It’s a warm comfy blanket that’s infected with smallpox.

It promises relief, respect and redress. But it never delivers.

It doesn’t rebuild anything out of the ashes, it just destroys what’s left.

It doesn’t redeem the pain, it recreates it, forcing us to relive it.

It locks in our hurts and freezes our worst moment in time forever. It plays our pain on repeat in our heart and mind.

It re-inflicts the hurt and reinfects the wounds.

We’ve gotta fight bitterness like we would an escaped prisoner climbing through our child’s bedroom window. It’s plans for us are equally nefarious.

Bitterness is a reverse mirage. We often don’t see what’s actually there.

Hebrews 12:15 warns us:

“Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”

We need to watch out for it because, bitterness starts so small. Often with a disappointment, an injustice, a hurt.

We often bury that pain. We pretend it isn’t there and hope it goes away. Which has a similar effect to pouring Miracle-Gro on a weed.

Unforgiveness and resentment come next.

And that environment is like a hothouse, providing the perfect breeding ground for bitterness.

We actually want healing, we want things to be right again, but the bitterness takes over, often without us even knowing it’s there.

We start being ruled by fears. And now, we’ve dug in, we won’t give an inch. Usually because we’re scared.

Our love has to be greater than our fear.

Bitterness, more than anything, is fear. The kind of fear which leads to disobedience.

It’s lack of trust, lack of faith.

It’s believing that we can’t obey God because He won’t get it right.

We feel like we have to take care of ourselves. But, if we’re being honest, how’s that working out for us?

God says forgive. Every time.

He’s got great things in store for us and love like we’ve never imagined if we just trust and obey.

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Thank God Everything’s Falling Apart

Sometimes we go through seasons where everything seems to fall apart around us. In these times, we shouldn’t feel abandoned by God, we should feel more loved than ever.

Seriously.

I know that sounds weird, but here’s the thing, God will often let things in our lives fall apart when they are standing in the way of Him. This isn’t done out of spite, or to hurt us, but out of love, to heal us, to grow us and for reasons that don’t always make sense to us now.

Like a parent who removes the training wheels from their child’s bike, above their cries and objections. That father or mother knows, what the child doesn’t–that the very thing that once held them up, now holds them back.

It’s a matter of trust more than anything.

Do we believe that God knows best. That He is rooting for us? That He’s in control? That He is actively working in our lives for His glory and the good of others, as well as our own? That He loves us and wants to do things in and through us that we probably wouldn’t even dream of?

See, He knows what we are capable of, He has big plans for us. But to get there, we’ve gotta trust.

Obey.

Surrender.

We’ve gotta let Him take control and take away anything that’s in the way of where He wants to take us.

God often adds through subtraction.

The things we’re holding on to aren’t real anyway. They may provide the mirage of security and control, or the illusion of happiness and success, but we know better.

And they’re often things we are relying on other than Him. False hopes. Security blankets. Training wheels.

Monuments to the trust we have in us.

Testaments to the lack of trust we have in God.

Idols, really.

If God is removing things from our lives, we are better off without them.

When our lives seem to be falling apart, often what we’re seeing are just the first, messy steps of the rebuild God has begun in our lives. The glorious ruins.

It’s evidence that God is at work in our lives. Stripping away the things keeping us from Him, and all He has planned for us. A chance to tear down our kingdom and begin making a difference in His.

“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”
Luke 6:46-49 NLT

Only when He is first, can our lives be put back together. Beautifully. And truly built to last.

The tough part is in the middle. After the hurt, but before the healing.

That is when you must hold on tighter than you ever knew you could. Seek God first. Follow Jesus with everything you’ve got.

Trade in the life that may look good from the outside, for one that actually is.

This means some hardcore demolition, for a season. As any home remodeler (or HGTV watcher) knows, ripping out the junk creates a real mess.

When you walk into the kitchen and see the project half way through, you know there’s no turning back. You’re all in.
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The enemy wants us to believe that the picture above is where our story ends–that God has abandoned us there.

But our current circumstances aren’t where it ends. It gets real ugly before it gets beautiful. There’s a lot of dust and dirt and a giant disaster before anything awesome happens.

If God is helping you with that, don’t hate Him, THANK Him.
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Keep your eye on the prize, focus on where God’s taking you.

Always rest in the truth of His Word:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28 NLT


More: Hillsong Worship

Love Believes | Five Years Later

On November 30, 2009, I received some devastating news. The kind of thing that knocks you off your feet and causes a lot of strong people to completely crumble.

There have been many difficult days, some torturous. Some where I honestly didn’t know if I’d make it through.

I’ve felt immense pain and heartache every single day.

I’ve watched those I love dearly hurt deeply, and felt worries and challenges I never imagined.

Yet God has sustained, provided and seen us through it all, one day at a time.

But don’t mistake strong faith and confidence in God for easy. It’s not. It’s also not supposed to be.

Tom Petty was right, the waiting is the hardest part. At least for me. I’m naturally impatient, maybe we all are to some extent.

We want answers and easy fixes RIGHT NOW. And it’s easy to be discouraged when we don’t get them.

But God grows us through trials and difficult circumstances.

And it only seems like nothing’s happening.

God is always at work on the other side of the mountain.

I don’t regret, for even a minute, making the decision to not give up in the face of seemingly hopeless circumstances. And I have found joy in perseverance, even on the worst days. (Romans 5:3-4).

Again, I’m not pretending it’s easy. If you want to give up, good. That means you’re normal.

What I’m saying is, just don’t.

Nobody’s walking around with massive stockpiles of faith, reserves they can just dip into on demand. That’s not how God works.

He says to renew our minds daily.

Even Jesus had to make time to be alone with God at the beginning and end of every day.

God really does give us the manna our soul needs today.

I’m convinced that the greatest place to be in life is totally dependent on God.

He’s got this.

And so do we, if we trust and obey and if, as Galatians 6:9 says, we do not quit.

Isaiah 40:31 promises strength for those who wait on God. And Psalm 40:1 reminds us that even the king had to wait.

I love what David Mathis says about waiting:

“When you feel the first resistance, let it be a reminder to go Godward. Recalibrate the focus of your faith. Move the weight of your trust off self, where it keeps gravitating back, and consciously reorient on God. Whether it’s simply spare moments or seemingly endless days, waiting is no waste in God’s economy. It is in the delays and the pauses, and in becoming aware of our lack of patience, that he works to save us from self-reliance and revitalize our faith and hope in him.”

I trust in God’s perfect timing and His ability, and desire, to do the impossible and to truly heal.

Don’t you dare tell me that my God can’t. He specializes in fixing what’s broken, breathing life into that which was dead and doing the impossible.

So, yeah, I believe God can. And I believe God will.

And although there isn’t a pretty little bow on this story yet, I can look you in the eye and tell you that I believe more today than ever. (Hebrews 11:1) The fact that I can say that is a testament to God’s grace and love. Nothing else…

For all those who’ve prayed, believed, encouraged or lent support throughout this time–emotionally, logistically, provisionally and/or spiritually–all I can say is, thanks. Especially you late night pep talkers. I am grateful beyond words.

Keep praying. Keep believing…

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