Meet Ann | Confidence Without Compromise #1

Ann_CWC Feature_4 9 18

Ann, Maryland

Founder, Shreddedgrace.com

A blogger, vlogger, author, and stroke survivor. In this week’s feature, Ann talks about fulfilling God’s plan in our lives–when our plans are interrupted.

Continue reading “Meet Ann | Confidence Without Compromise #1”

The Life God Designed for You

How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

(Psalm 104:24 NIV)


On Tuesday, January 23, I was in prayer during my morning quiet time. Just as I began praying, I felt a sudden chill. I was sitting near an open window, but I didn’t feel a draft whatsoever moments before.

Before I knew it, the sky darkened, and rain began pouring down. Heavy, hitting the cement in hard, rhythmic drops. Loud. Out of nowhere.

Snapchat-749328947
The window I sat next to that day.

Within three minutes or less, the rain stopped. Silence all over again. The clouds parted slightly letting in some light back into the room.

Talk about a dramatic change.

It got me thinking about how miraculously God works. When God moves, He moves. It’s obvious, it’s clear. You know He’s present. You see His fingerprints. You see doors open. What might take a human years to do, God can do in the blink of an eye.

Now, almost two months later, Thursday, March 22, I was again reminded of this phenomenon. This time, my morning devotions didn’t involve a sudden shift in the weather. Instead, it involved a look into Psalm 104.

Continue reading “The Life God Designed for You”

Day 13: I enjoy spending time with you | Love Letters

Re·la·tion·ship: The condition or fact of being related; a connection, association, or involvement.

[Source]

Relationship requires investment.

When you want to build new relationships with people, you make time for them. Conversations over texts and calls. Time spent together. You ask questions, you share details about your life. Eventually, you’ve gotten to know them well and have developed a closeness with them.

The same thing goes when you want to deepen an existing relationship with people you already know. You make the time, you show up, you involve yourself in their lives. You connect. You associate yourself with them.

Our relationship with God takes on a similar process. When you decide to follow the Lord, you are able to build a relationship with Him that can grow and get even better over time. You involve yourself with Him. You connect with Him. You associate yourself with Him.

Like a friendship, you must invest in your relationship with God if you want to develop it. When you care about someone, you sacrifice for that individual. If you want God in your life, you sacrifice to make time for Him and to get to know Him.

Did you know that God rejoices in spending time with you? He absolutely loves it!

As a loving father cares for his child, God sees you as His child whom He loves deeply. He wants to have a real relationship with you.

The Bible talks of a God who takes delight in His people. Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) states, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Psalm 147:11 (ESV) says, “But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” Fear in this passage does not mean to be afraid; we’re not meant to simply be afraid of God. Rather, it means to have reverence for or to respect. In other words, God notices those who have reverence for Him–those who acknowledge Him for who He is–and He honors those people!

Genesis 1:27 mentions that God created humankind in His image. This means that we were created to have an association with Him. We are meant be in relationship with our Creator. We are made to bear His image, or represent Him well–to show who He is and the attributes of His love. The only way we can reflect this image is if we know what it looks like. And so, in order to know our true identity, we must know God, the One who knows who we’re made to be!

Our hearts yearn for something greater that cannot be found on this earth. And God yearns for you, too. James 4:8 says if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. He is available, but He does not force. He is near, but He does not push Himself. He waits patiently. And when you come, He will come.

Do you ever feel neglected when a friend doesn’t show up for you? Or forgotten when someone doesn’t reach out to you? God gets it. He understands how you feel, and He has compassion towards you: “The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him” (Psalms 103:13 NLT). He also notices when you don’t reach out to Him, too.

Revelation 3:20 mentions that God is calling out for you. When you answer, He will “eat with,” or fellowship with, you.

A relationship with God cannot be built through someone else. For example, just because your parents have a relationship with Him, doesn’t mean you have it, too. God is acquainted with them already, and He wants to get to know you. Consider this: if your friend is friends with someone else, it doesn’t make you friends with that same person (even if you know a little or a lot about them). You must take the initiative to get to know that person for yourself.

It’s never too late to build or rebuild a relationship with God. Study His Word–get to know what He says and who He is. How He sees you, what He wants you to know. Talk to Him, reach out to Him. Even if you can’t find words, you can sit in silence and ask for the comfort of His presence.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20 ESV)

Love Letter 13

14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

Read Day 12
Read Day 14

 

To receive inspiring content on faith and lifestyle, follow LM on social media!

YouTube: LizMargaret

Facebook: Lizmargaretblog

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_lizmargaret/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_lizmargaret

Tumblr: http://lizmargaret.tumblr.com/

Day 12: I will forgive | Love Letters

For·give·ness: The act of forgiving or the state of being forgiven; willingness to forgive.

[Source]

What is considered unforgivable to you?

Think about someone who has hurt you. Someone you could never dream of speaking to–let alone see–ever again. Imagine forgiving that person, as if what had been done in the past never happened.

Quite difficult.

Now think about a time when you have hurt someone. Maybe you didn’t apologize, but to this day, you know what happened. It might be something that appears in your mind now and then. Some days you forget what happened, other days the memory of what you did hits you.

Even harder to think about.

Considering the first scenario, we can easily say, People can be heartless. I could never forgive them. Considering the second scenario, we remember, I can be heartless. How could anyone forgive me? Putting both together, we can conclude that sin is a part of human nature.

Looking closer at the wrong that we’ve done and that others have done to us, forgiveness can seem like the last thing anyone deserves.

A man in the Bible who was deemed unforgivable by society was Zacchaeus.

We’re introduced to him in Luke 19:2; he is a chief tax collector. Tax collectors made a lot of money at this time, so for Zacchaeus to be in a role of leadership, we know he is very wealthy. Tax collectors were typically wealthy for a reason–they were known to be greedy and deceitful. They often cheated people of their money so they could gain more, and as a result, they were intensely hated by others. Pretty much completely unforgivable.

Zacchaeus, a man ostracized by others, is found near a synagogue–the last place he should be according to society, as he is considered “spiritually unclean.” He knows that Jesus is passing through the city of Jericho today, and he wants to see Him:

“And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way” (Luke 19:3-4 NKJV).

Zacchaeus’ determination to see Jesus is fascinating. He not only comes to a place where he is unwelcome, he runs and climbs a tree to make sure he sees Him. Although Zacchaeus has all the money he needs–and probably loves his wealth over anything–he is still empty. Something is missing in his life, and he is searching for it.

God never pushes away those who come seeking for Him–no matter who they are. Jesus displays this characteristic of God by His response to Zacchaeus, a hated man in the world’s eyes: “And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house’” (v. 5).

Jesus sees Zacchaeus and asks him to come. He wants to fellowship with him at his own home. This is unheard of.

Zacchaeus’ life changes the moment he makes contact with Jesus. In verse 6, he comes down from the tree quickly and joyfully. He is filled with utter joy that he is invited by Christ Himself with such amazing love–a love he has never seen before.

However, this interaction is met by criticism. Luke 19:7 states, “But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.’” The crowd thinks it’s wrong that Jesus is willing to accompany a sinner, but they don’t understand what true love is.

Nevertheless, Jesus doesn’t worry about what others think. Jesus offers forgiveness, and Zacchaeus takes it by making a decision to come down and fellowship with Him.

How do we know Zacchaeus is truly repentant? By his actions. In verse 8, he tells Jesus that he will give half his wealth to the poor and return anything he has taken from others, restoring it four times the amount he actually owes! Zacchaeus chooses to abandon his former life as a sinner, in love with money and his lifestyle, to love the God who loves him.

Jesus acknowledges Zacchaeus’ changed heart, saying, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 18:9-10 NKJV). He honors Zacchaeus, mentioning that he is displaying the same faith that Abraham showed in God. This was a huge recognition for someone who was seen as undeserving of any forgiveness. Jesus also confirms what He came to do: forgive.

Jesus came to save those who are lost–to save those who are unlovable, broken, undeserving, and have made mistakes. He came to forgive us.

God tells us, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32 NIV).

Zacchaeus’ story is one of many. The Bible is filled with people who have been forgiven by God, even though they were sinners:

  • King David – An adulterer and murderer, David is called a man after God’s own heart, because he sought God’s forgiveness and turned back to Him.
  • Peter – He denied Jesus three times as if he never knew Him before Jesus died on the cross. Jesus still died for Peter and forgave him when he came back to Him.
  • Paul – He was known as a persecutor of Christians, responsible for several deaths, yet he transformed because he chose God. Not only was Paul forgiven but he was used to establish the church and wrote over half of the New Testament.

Can you imagine that God offered his forgiveness to every single one of them? If God could save them, He can save you.

Just as Jesus called Zacchaeus to come down from the sycamore tree, He’s calling you to come down and come to Him–from wherever you currently stand. The “tree” you are currently staying in could be pain, pride, regret, addiction, prejudice, violence, selfishness, lack of forgiveness–whatever. The Lord saw Zacchaeus where he was–he couldn’t hide. And He sees you, too.

Zacchaeus not only came down from the tree and came to Jesus, he turned away from his sins. He abandoned his former life–where sin and shame lived–for a better one. This was true repentance. And there was joy there.

Are you ready to abandon the former things to let God in? Are you ready for real joy?

A relationship with God isn’t an elite club only open to the best, the brightest, and the most righteous. It’s open to everyone. I encourage you to take a hold of God’s forgiveness today. You are not out of His reach. You are not too far gone and unable to be restored. God’s love for you means He offers His forgiveness to you.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14 NIV)

Love Letter 12

[*Please note: Today’s post is based on a sermon I recently heard at my church.]

14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

Read Day 11

Read Day 13

 

To receive inspiring content on faith and lifestyle, follow LM on social media!

YouTube: LizMargaret

Facebook: Lizmargaretblog

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_lizmargaret/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_lizmargaret

Tumblr: http://lizmargaret.tumblr.com/

Day 6: You can tell Me anything | Love Letters

Con·fide:

  1. To have confidence; trust.
  2. To give to the care or protection of another; entrust.

[Source]

There’s great comfort in being around a close friend. You can talk for hours about anything or you can say nothing, enjoying each other’s company in silence. Your presence together is effortless; you feel comfortable to share what’s on your mind, and you’re free to be yourself.

This effortless relationship with a good friend is the type of relationship we can have with God. As we learned yesterday, when we accept Christ as our Savior–reconciling our relationship with God–our sin no longer separates us from Him. We have complete access to go to God in prayer and confide in Him.

When we confide in God, we have confidence in Him that He will care for and protect us. Because of His everlasting love, we know we can give everything to Him.

Giving something to God, means you know longer have it. It means entrusting Him with something. This can mean giving sinful habits to Him, trusting and knowing He has better for you. After all, sin might feel good or justifiable in the moment, but it never has better for you.

We can also give Him our worries–trusting and knowing He has better for us. The Bible shows us that God is all-powerful, and when we trust in Him, we’re trusting Someone who is more powerful than our biggest fears.

Either way, He has you. He’ll lead you to the better path.

To build a close relationship with a friend, we have to get to know them and communicate with them regularly. We can build this close relationship with God by getting to know Him, reading His Word and speaking to Him prayer. This way, we learn more about His character and His love, and we understand His plans for our lives.

A close relationship with God is even better than a close relationship with a good friend. God loves you enough that He wants you to confide in Him–to be honest with Him. Where there is honesty, there is freedom. When you do wrong, He offers His forgiveness. When you’re afraid, He’s there to take away your fears.

Take the weight off your shoulders. Tell God what’s on your mind today.

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. (Jeremiah 29:12 NKJV)

Love Letter 6

14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

Read Day 5

Read Day 7

 

To receive inspiring content on faith and lifestyle, follow LM on social media!

YouTube: LizMargaret

Facebook: Lizmargaretblog

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_lizmargaret/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_lizmargaret

Tumblr: http://lizmargaret.tumblr.com/

Day 2: You can give Me your burdens | Love Letters

Bur·den:

  1. Something that is carried.
  2. Something that is emotionally difficult to bear; a source of great worry or stress.
  3. A responsibility or duty.

[Source]

You were not made to carry everything. But it’s quite easy to think you’re supposed to.

We live in a DIY culture: Do it yourself. Make it happen. Figure it out. Find a way. Solve the problem. Don’t wait for anyone.

Now. There is some value we can take from these thoughts: Don’t just lean on anything. When the storms come, you discover what is made of substance and what is not. A house set on an unstable foundation is bound to crumble when a natural disaster strikes. A boat built with weak materials will sink when it’s tossed to and fro on the ocean.

We need to stand on something with substance–something that is stable enough to hold us up, to keep us afloat no matter what.

Leaning on yourself can’t do that.

Have you ever been in a situation where you stop and think, Wow. I can’t do this…? Have you tried pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline only to realize you fell asleep hours in? Have you promised a friend a favor only to realize days later, I can’t believe I forgot to do that!

We get tired, we get faint, we run out of energy. We fail, we break promises, we forget. It’s normal. But it shows how human we are.

You were not made to carry everything.

God provides access to Him because He knows this. We can go to Him freely. God takes joy in talking to you. He loves providing a way for you, opening doors, and seeing you fulfill your purpose. He sees you in your challenges, and He wants to help.

It’s not your duty to carry your burden on your own. Whatever you’re carrying today, give it to the Lord. What does that mean? Go to Him about it. Talk to Him about it like you would talk to a friend. Humans can only do so much.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

Love Letter 2.png

14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

Read Day 1

Read Day 3

 

To receive inspiring content on faith and lifestyle, follow LM on social media!

YouTube: LizMargaret

Facebook: Lizmargaretblog

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_lizmargaret/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_lizmargaret

Tumblr: http://lizmargaret.tumblr.com/

 

God Has the Final Say

For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him:

(1 Samuel 1:27 KJV)


“To be a success, you must surround yourself with successful people.” I’m sure you’ve heard of some version of that saying before. You shouldn’t use other people just to gain a leg-up, but I have to say, this quote definitely has truth. While people don’t necessarily dictate your future, the people in your life shape your habits and how you see the world, which influences your decisions. So, the wrong people can shape your mindset and hinder your growth.

Sometimes, you can only see as far as others around you can.

open bible

In 1 Samuel 1, we meet Hannah, one of the two wives of Elkanah. She is affected by others who provoke her because cannot bear any children (v. 2). Hannah is a woman who is blessed and has a loving husband, but she suffers plenty. Her enemies disturb her peace on purpose to make her worry.

“And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb. And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat” (v. 4-7).

Though Hannah has such favor with Elkanah, her sorrow is completely understandable. Imagine enduring such hatred by others, shamed for the one thing you can’t have but your heart longs for. Hannah’s deep pain is one that nobody else could comprehend–not even her husband. “Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?” (v. 8)

I imagine Hannah seeing other women being blessed with children and wondering what is wrong with her. She probably feels misunderstood, out of place, and forgotten by God. Ever feel that way?

Here’s the thing: Hannah doesn’t stay silent in her pain.

Continue reading “God Has the Final Say”

Do You Listen to Others Before You Listen to God?

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

(Proverbs 19:20-21 ESV)


If you are going into a battle, who would you want to come fight with you?

  • Someone who doesn’t want what’s best for you and may even harm you
  • Someone who is fearful and will restrict you
  • Someone who will stand with you and fightsocial media_black and white

The answer is clear–the last person is ideal. You want someone who’s on your side to fight with you. The reality is, in the day to day battles we fight, we don’t always see people’s true colors or intentions–at least not at first. Even with social media today, everyone has an opinion, everyone will have advice to give you, but not all advice is right.

 

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1 KJV).

Proverbs 19:20-21 instructs us to listen to wise advice but also to know God’s Word stands above everything. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what anyone says or plans out if it’s contrary to God’s will. He has the final say every time!

It’s essential that we listen to God’s voice before we listen to the voices of others. People will be quick to tell you what they think you should do–and even base their advice on their own experiences. However, you don’t know if this person is advising you based on their own fears or based on wisdom. Their story is their story. Your story is your story. What happened to them won’t necessarily happen to you. God’s got you covered with a unique plan.

“The Lord of hosts has sworn: ‘As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand’” (Isaiah 14:24 ESV).

This doesn’t mean we should be skeptical of everyone we come across. God needs us to care for each other and build each other up!

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14 KJV).

If someone is living a godly life, you’ll know based on the fruit of their lives. We just need wisdom regarding who we follow–whether that’s online or in real life. God’s Word will always reign true, and His commandments don’t change. It’s OK to take notes from those you admire and to learn from other people’s past mistakes. Discipleship is valuable, and it’s a commandment. Make sure what others tell you lines up with what God tells you. God will give you the discernment–you just need to go to Him first. Learn the Bible for yourself. Check and see what God says about your problem before you try and consult the Web or someone else.

Stay teachable, but know why you believe what you believe according to the Word.


My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:  For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.

(Proverbs 3:1-4 KJV)