Faye Bryant

Living in Freedom

Apostle Paul wrote to the believers who were the church in Galatia, saying, “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.“

What a powerful thing to say!

We have been CALLED to LIVE in FREEDOM!

We are called out of the captivity of our sin to walk in freedom. God called us to live free from the entanglement of sin, without shame, without fear. WOOHOO!

When you were a child and you did something wrong, how did you feel waiting for the discipline from parent or teacher?

I’ve recently been reading in Psalms where we see the phrase “God lifts my head.”

As I read that, I see the child who has done wrong, sitting with head hung low, tears falling, heart aching. Then the dad comes to the child and reaches down, places a finger under the child’s chin and lifts his/her face up. It is then the child can see the scowl, the frown, the reddened face, but he/she also sees the love filling the eyes.

God’s call to live in freedom is like that dad lifting that head.

No more shame. No more guilt. Look up! See your Savior!

No more being chained to the way we were! No more being compelled to make the same wrong choices. Freedom!

Oh, but that next part. Don’t you know God knew how humans think! Some of us would definitely look at this reprieve as the opportunity to make more poor choices, likely worse than the ones we’ve been bound up in.

God says through Paul to use this newfound freedom for something much different than we’ve known: serving each other in love.

He told the church to serve each other.

I think He expected those who had experienced this freedom to share it with the other believers, and while that might have included bringing supper to them, it also more than likely included the lifting of the head and cheering that one who recalls how horrible he’s been back to wholeness and healing. Serving one another in love by telling their story – how they were before, how they met Jesus, and how they are now.

We who know the salvation of the Lord, who understand this freedom He gives should be reaching back to draw others to where we are. Welcoming them into the family of God, teaching them in His ways, explaining scripture – it’s not just the preacher’s and deacons’ jobs.

Whenever we celebrate our nation’s freedom, we should look at our own. Take a peek back at what you were rescued from and gaze at where you are in that regard. Choose today to walk in the freedom only Christ can give and share that with the believers around you by serving them in love.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Who’s your master?

Jesus was in the middle of what we call His Sermon on the Mount when He said, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”

He went on to add,
THAT IS WHY I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?” (Emphasis mine.)

I’ve pretty much always read the second verse without the first. You know, a gentle nudge to remind me that I’m not supposed to be worrying about where my next something-something is coming from.

Today, though, as I read these two together, I see much more than a gentle nudge. I see a firm declaration and I feel a kick to the seat of my pants!

For the Son of God to say ‘you can’t serve God and money’ immediately followed by ‘THAT IS WHY I say to you…’ puts the command to not worry in a more compelling light.

Could it mean that when I’m worried about how the pantry will get filled, I’m choosing money over God?

I think so.

Worry is focus on the wrong thing.

Every one of our “where will I get the money for groceries” has our focus on us and money as the only answer to our need.

Each “how will I afford the kids’ school clothes” says we’re in control and money is our answer.

Jesus said we must not do that!

I know! It’s hard when there’s nothing in the bank and your pantry is empty. I’ve been there. I was never so grateful for a $25 gift for a grocery store. It wasn’t “enough” I thought, but God showed me it really was.

I know what it’s like to wonder if I’d have to send my son to school in his same tired, faded, a-little-too-short britches he’d been wearing for a year only to be able to send him in not only new duds, but in what became his signature style.

I know. I know it’s hard not to focus on those things. I get that.

But Jesus said
to choose a different way.

It doesn’t require a huge mind shift. Not really. Instead of “where will I get the money for groceries” shift to “Lord, we need food for supper tonight and breakfast tomorrow. I don’t have the money to buy anything. Help?”

You’re still quite cognizant of the problem, but now you’re declaring that Almighty God is in charge of handling it. You’ve laid out your problem before the Provider.

Once that’s done, listen. Listen for His prompting. Do you sense the need to call someone – a food pantry or your church? Then it’s time to drop your pride and make the call.

Do you feel compelled to pray more? Hit your knees and get it all out before the Lord. Cry. Laugh. Rant. Rave. Do it all with the heart that says God is the ONLY answer to any of your problems.

Just don’t return to the “me and money will take care of this” mindset.

  • Oh! When this crisis is done, when your family is clothed and fed, be sure to do two things:
    thank God for His provision and
    praise Him for being your Provider
  • make a memorial to this moment
    when He stepped in and did what
    you could not. Write it in a journal,
    hang a picture, whatever, but put
    up a memorial to glorify God and
    remind you and your whole
    household what happened.

Today’s the perfect day to choose. Will you and money stay on the throne of your life or will you step down, choose to use money as a resource, and let God have full reign?

#ChooseWell

Coffee, Bible, Journal‭

Use your voice!

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.” King David said.

David was a shepherd. He spent a good number of days and nights outside, under the sky.

He saw stars twinkle, lighting up the darkness and watched as the sun chased the night across the sky. He saw beautiful blue skies and watched as storm clouds, ominous in beauty changed day to dusk.

He said that all these faces of the skies declared the glory of God and proclaimed His craftsmanship.

What do you see when you look up? Clouds? Blue skies? Storm clouds and lightning? Complete darkness? Starlight?
All that is God’s workmanship.

That shade of blue that we’d love to paint walls. That tent covering of stars that feels like a comfortable blanket. That full moon that turns the deepest night into near day. Those rays of sunlight pouring through clouds. Every inch of those vast skies shout the glory of God and point out His incredible creativity.

Have you stopped to think that He created all that for us? For you?

Yes, He did!

He lives above the heavens. He isn’t looking up at the sky, we are. He isn’t laid back on a blanket, arms folded behind His head gazing up at the stars or clouds. He designed all of that for you and me.

WoW!

Here’s the challenge: the clouds, stars, rain, sun, and moon don’t have words, yet they proclaim the wonder and glory of their Creator. We have mouths with plenty of words. Are we doing the same or do we remain silent for fear of offending someone?

Maybe today we can exercise those vocal cords to point out to someone else how beautiful God’s creation is and how amazing He is to speak it into existence. Maybe say how cool that God designed the clouds to draw water from the oceans, lakes, rivers, and ponds and carry it to the dry places and water the earth.

You don’t have to preach. Next time you walk out of your house with your children, look up and see a cloud against azure and say to them, “Oh, look! God made that one so pretty!” We can do the same as we exit our offices or job sites.

Maybe tonight get outside and look up. As you see those pinpricks of light, listen closely and hear the constant proclamations of God’s glory and praise for His craftsmanship.

Let’s begin today to use our voices to proclaim the glory of God and His craftsmanship.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.‭

Cover of the Month?

EEEE! (That’s a full-on squeal, y’all.)

I just found out that the cover of Louise is headed for the second round in a contest on AllAuthor. Only the top 100 go through and every vote counts!

The more people who see this cover and think it’s awesome, the more who will get a copy and learn about how to turn heartache around and live a life of love and peace.

If you think it’s the best cover ever, would you mind voting for it over at AllAuthor?

What battle are YOU fighting today?

What battle are YOU fighting today?

These words were said to the Israelite people as the mighty Egyptian army chased after them in a fury. They were facing imminent and painful death.

God had led them out of their slavery, knowing Pharaoh would react this way. He knew His people would be scared. He knew they’d want to turn back to their comfortable place. The work was hard back where they’d come from, but they weren’t facing annihilation!

God knew, yet He didn’t stop it from happening.

Why is that?

We of limited finite sight need to see things before we understand. “Pictures or it didn’t happen” has become a phrase used often. The children of God needed the same. They needed to see the situation become more dire than they could imagine, then see their God handle the situation for them in a way they never could have conceived.

How gracious is our God to do that for them and for us, over and over.

Believer, no matter your battle, the Creator of the Universe knows you and what you’re facing and He is saying to you,

The Lord himself
will fight for you.
Just stay calm.

Let your heart and mind rest in the sure knowledge that God is bigger than whatever is coming against you and He is on your side. Listen closely to hear His instructions and follow them.

When you’re on the other side of your Red Sea moment, celebrate. Rejoice that God is who He says He is and He did what He said He would do.

Then remember that for next time and trust Him to fight for you instead of worrying how you will possibly manage it.

Today, instead of looking at the rushing warriors, the raging battle, the coming despair, let’s recognize that God sees us, loves us, and will fight for us. Knowing that to our core makes it easy to close our eyes and take a nap even with the pounding of hooves in our ears.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Guarded and Protected … by God!

Have you ever walked down a road at night when there are no streetlights or the light from houses shining?

Do you do anything to keep from thinking about what you can’t see?

In this chapter of Proverbs, Solomon talks about all the benefits of remaining close to the Lord. Wisdom, knowledge, understanding, common sense. All these are priceless. Then he adds this to the list: “He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.”
‭‭
WHOA!!!

God Himself guards the paths of the just AND protects the ones who are faithful to Him?

That’s no angel, folks, that’s Almighty God. Angels are powerful and do a great job protecting us, but God is even more!

How pleased He must be with us when we are just in all our dealings with mankind and persistently faithful to Him that He would guard and protect us.

What’s that look like, you ask?

Being just means you have judged the person and/or situation in front of you according to God’s Word and treat them as He would. No, that doesn’t mean you get to smite the guy who cut you off on the interstate.

It means making no distinction between this beautifully dressed, sweet smelling one and the one whose aroma is less appealing and whose clothes are ragged and unkempt.

It means seeing the people before as God sees them: created in His image. Then doing what is in our power to give them dignity. It’s making sure to give that person the goodness of the Truth of God’s love for them and warning everyone of the coming day of judgment – not just the ones we like.

In truth, the ONLY way to be just as He is just is to remain faithful to Him. When we stay so close to the Lord that we are constantly in His shadow, we operate differently than when we’re walking on our own.

Faithful to God is just like being faithful to a spouse or best friend. We always speak well of Him, we never let lies about Him go unanswered, our love for Him is so strong, everyone can see it.

Today, let’s work on these: being just and faithful. Ask God to show you what that looks like for you and to train you. He’ll do that. He’s nice like that.

Then you can know that not only are there angels guarding and protecting you, God is, too.

Coffee, Bible, Journal

Don’t worry!

Don’t worry about anything?

Don’t worry?

But I don’t have enough money to pay my bills this month!
My dad just had a stroke, what if he dies?
My mom has dementia, how will I ever take care of her?
My husband is working in dangerous situations, what if something happens to him?
I am traveling, what if the car breaks down or someone tries to attack me?

How can I NOT worry?

I hear you. Worry is a human default position.

Why is that?

Because self is a human default position.

We humans like to think we can affect the outcome of every circumstance we find ourselves in. We want to manage people and places to fit our needs. We wrap our loved ones up in many layers of safety to keep them from ever feeling pain.

And then… pain happens anyway.

God tells us instead of worrying, to pray.
Six years ago this September, I was in the most out-of-control crisis I had ever known. My husband had a brain aneurysm and his death seemed imminent and certain.

God reminded me of this verse and I responded like you would expect. I sat right down and worried. When those thoughts and fears became overwhelming I returned to God and His way and I prayed. I told God the outcome I wanted, then I said, “Your will is perfect and that is my desire.”

All through that long night when another what-if showed up for attention, I prayed. And that was when the next verse became so very real. “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Now, I’m not some powerful soul who never falters. That list of worries up there? All of those are mine. Words I’ve said and thought instead of praying.

We have to relinquish the illusion of control and realize only God has control. When we continue to take ownership of things that are obviously His, we put ourselves above Him as our own golden calf.

No matter what tenuous situations you find yourself in today, you get to choose your reaction. Let’s choose prayer instead of worry. Let’s choose to tell God what we need, and let’s thank Him profusely for all He has done.

Then, let’s bask in the amazing peace He gives even though we can’t understand it.

You can do this.
You are enough.
He’s waiting.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Put up with ’em and forgive ’em

Paul wrote in his letter to the believers of Collasae, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

Some translations say “put up with” instead of “make allowance for.”

Whew! I don’t know about you, but sometimes, putting up with some folks is the hardest thing ever; and sometimes, those people are my spiritual siblings.

Then he says to forgive anyone who offends us? Please!

I don’t know what was going on in ancient Colossae back then, but it sounds like some feudin’ was afoot. Almost like our here and now.

We live in a time of the perpetually offended. We are offended by things that happened a second ago and by things that happened two hundred years ago. We demand restitution for things done to ancestors and payment for offenses done last week.

We focus on, mull over, and tell everyone about that offense, no matter how big or small.

What we don’t seem to do is consider what’s going on with that offender.

That lady who cut you off in traffic? Before you said those ugly words, did you notice her tear-stained cheeks? Did you hear her whispered, “My husband just died, I’m sorry. I was headed home”?

That guy that butted in front of you at the store? Before you bumped him with your cart, did you hear him on the phone saying he would get to the hospital as fast as he could?

That woman at church who never puts anything in the offering? Before you mentioned that to your tribe, did you hear her telling the administrator how she loves using the online giving because she can give the day the paycheck comes in instead of waiting till Sunday?

See, we’re not in the heads of the people who offend us. We don’t know the ongoing good or bad happening in their lives. We DO know that every person we meet is human just like we are, with all the faults and foibles that go with that.

So, we’re supposed to make allowances for the humanity of our fellow believers. Maybe they smack when they eat and interrupt conversations. Make allowance.

Please note, though:
there’s a difference between
faults and sins.

We’re to put up with faults and confront sin. That’s in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13.

And when we’re offended, there’s a process for dealing with that and it doesn’t include telling your hairdresser or barber. Check out Matthew 18.

FORGIVENESS

God has some pretty high expectations of His children. Sometimes they’re really hard to think about, much less do. Yet He said forgiveness is a must, so we’d best be getting on with it.

Some things that were done to us are so heinous that forgiveness seems impossible. We might even say, “I’ll never forgive him/her!”

I get that. I had to forgive some people of some pretty horrible things.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve gotten the idea that saying “I forgive you” means “I excuse you” or “What you did is okay.”

That’s not it at all.

Saying “I forgive you” says: Despite what you did, despite the trauma you caused to me and in me, I am choosing to no longer require repayment for a debt you can never pay.

It’s wiping a slate clean. It’s declaring a very real, very high debt is paid in full even if it’s not acknowledged by the offender.

Oh yes, it’s a huge act of the will to do this. It’s not a frivolous toss of the hands. It’s heart rending. It’s gut wrenching. But when it’s done, it’s mind-freeing, it’s spirit-filling, it’s physically relieving —- for the forgiver!

Today is a great day to put on some God-goggles, to look at every encounter through the lenses of God’s perspective and choose to put up with the faults of our fellow believers and forgive those who offend us.

Today is a great day to begin the process of forgiveness. Even though it’s hard for us, when we remember how offensive our ways were to God and how He forgave us before we ever even acknowledged them, it becomes easier. (Not easy, easiER.)

Let’s make new choices today and keep making them tomorrow and every day after.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.‭‭

Real peace

Before Jesus left His disciples, His followers, His closest friends, He told them He was leaving them a gift. A gift the world didn’t have to give. A gift of infinite worth – just like the people who would receive the gift.

PEACE

You know, peace isn’t just the absence of conflict, it’s so much more.

It’s the calming of rattled nerves when an accident is barely avoided. It’s the relaxation on a beach or in the mountains. It’s the calm listening to a child’s sleeping breaths. It’s the joy in accomplishment – or failure.

This peace that Jesus gives shows up in many ways because it’s not just a one-time, one-use gift. You don’t have to store it up and save it for the neediest situation or worry that you’ve used it up. Matter of fact, the more you use it, the more plentiful it becomes!

I love how the Amplified Version expands the original language:

“Peace I leave with you; My own
peace I now give and bequeath to you.
Not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled,
neither let them be afraid. Stop
allowing yourselves to be agitated and
disturbed; and do not permit
yourselves to be fearful and
intimidated and cowardly and
unsettled.”

“Do not let” the words say. I have experienced anxiety’s fierce grip on my mind and I know several who struggle with that daily. It’s not pretty. I’m not certain how this ‘do not let’ works, but I suspect that it includes wielding God’s Word as a weapon. We need to learn scripture, making it a part of our constant thoughts. Then, when our hearts start feeling troubled, we need to speak aloud the scriptures that we’ve learned.

See, the terrors that plague us, the evil that surrounds us – they do not know our thoughts. Only God does that, and there is no other. We must speak out loud the Truth of God to the things that trouble our hearts. In the wake of scripture, those things can’t stay. Peace returns in that victory.

“Stop allowing yourselves” He said.
Umm. Ouch. Jesus knew His friends and followers were being agitated and disturbed to the point of feeling fearful, intimidated, cowardly, and unsettled. No peace there, huh?

Let me ask, does that describe you? Maybe sometimes?

How many of us listen to the news or read headlines and get so scared of what’s happening or what’s predicted that our heart races and our blood pressure goes up? How many of us feel anger that boils?

How many of us hear about a happening here or there and change our behavior completely because we’re intimidated and scared witless?

Jesus said “STOP IT!”

Yeah, I’m not there yet, either, but I’m willing to try. I want to experience this peace, His peace, that He left for me. I want to be able to walk where He sends me without fear or intimidation. I want to be the person He designed me to be without anxiety or agitation.

I want to so exude this peace in the midst of chaos and despair that when people see it, they ask how I can possibly be at ease.

“Oh, let me tell you about Jesus!” will be my answer every time.

Today let’s start learning this verse and others that we can use to tell anxiety and fear to take a long hike. Let’s choose to lean into the peace He has given and to be obedient to His order to not let ourselves become distracted by the stuff of life. If He told us to do it or stop doing it, it is within us to do just that.

Ready?

Coffee, Bible, Journal.