How To Be Effective and Productive In Christ

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV
2 Peter 1:5-8 really challenges me. I want to be effective and productive for the Lord, but I struggle with what it takes to do that. What does it mean to be effective and productive for the Lord? And what does it take?
It means working OUT the salvation He has worked IN me so that my faith is expressed in love toward God, toward others, and yes, even toward myself. The goal? That I become more like Christ every day, and that others are reconciled to (are made one with) God in Christ.
How do I slip into being ineffective and unproductive in Christ?
-If I believe in the Lord, but think ugly, critical or mean thoughts toward others (1 Cor 13:2 – if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing);
– If I do not continue to spend time with God getting to know Him through His Word and His Spirit;
– If I do not surrender to the Holy Spirit so the fruit of self-control blossoms in my life;
– If I do not continue to obey and pursue God during hard times;
– If I do not allow God’s love for people to flow through me toward others (1 Cor 13:3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing).
I thought my biggest problem is self-control, but when I looked at it closer, I easily slip into a critical mindset, finding fault with people. I fit God into my schedule instead of building my schedule around God. I have a problem with feeding my flesh more than my spirit. I get spiritually lazy and self-protective during hard times. I do not get close enough to people to let God love them through me.
How do I make a change? Remember that every day of my life is not about me but about Christ. A good day should not be one that brings me intellectual, emotional or physical pleasure, but one that helps someone else personally experience the never-failing love of God – through me or directly through the Spirit of God.
My prayer for all of us is that we may possess all these qualities in increasing measure that we may be effective and productive in our knowledge of the Lord.

Taste And See That The Lord Is Good

Psalm 34
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

I spoke with a woman last night who is really struggling with understanding God after the loss of her husband, sister and mother. All three happened in such a way that the memory of each passing was left unresolved. I realized that she hasn’t been able to move past them because she wasn’t expecting things to occur as they did, and she doesn’t understand why God would allow those things to happen. They are like skips in a record that causes her to stay in an infinite loop of questioning God and never moving beyond it.

From what we discussed, the issue really boiled down to whether or not God is good. Her question she couldn’t get past was “why God would create man if some of them would go to hell”, and that basically is really questioning His goodness. She will need to settle that question before she can move forward in her faith.

As I shared with her, I believe that God’s only goal for creating mankind was to love them and have them freely love Him in return. That means allowing some to reject Him of their own free will. God doesn’t send anyone to Hell – people choose to live without Him. That is all a part of free will. Just as when we have children, we know that they may love us or reject us, they may make us proud or make us ashamed. But we still choose to have those children, because we want to love them and have them love us. We take that risk whenever we choose to have children.

As soon as you move into “why” questions, you are trying to understand God’s infinite thoughts with a human limited mind. We will never have all of those answers here on earth. At some point, we all have to move beyond our demands for answers we can see and understand and into living by faith instead of sight.

Either He is good and we choose to trust His goodness, even in the face of things we cannot comprehend, or He is not good, which makes Him evil instead, and we cannot trust Him. I’m praying God will communicate what you specifically need to reinforce your faith in His goodness. Being in His presence is what confirms it for me every time, because that is where I can taste and see that the Lord is Good.

1) How do you know that God is good?
2) When bad things happen, how can you remind yourself of God’s infinite goodness and wisdom despite what you see with your eyes?

Actively Seeking His Peace

Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to Yahweh for it; for in the peace of it shall you have peace. (Jer 29:7)

I know that this passage of scripture is speaking to the Israelites who have been taken captive in a foreign city, but God spoke to me about this in regard to times in our lives when we are captives of situations and emotions we cannot escape. It is possible to seek God’s peace in whatever situation you find yourself.

It might be a work situation that is causing you stress or that is unfulfilling. It might be a relationship that is hard or does not meet your expectations, or simply the delayed realization of your hopes and dreams. It could be the result of physical or emotional trauma in your life, the consequences of which you still struggle with every day.

Peace means being at one with someone or something. Being at one with the situation means accepting what has happened to you instead of fighting it, and deciding you are going to move on in spite of what happened. People get stuck obsessing over the past so they never move toward a better future. Yes, bad things happened to you, but what are you going to do NEXT?

Being at one with God means abiding in Him and not struggling against His allowed will. It means accepting His plan and purpose, trusting His will and His ways, resting in His goodness and mercy, and moving forward in His power and wisdom. It means building up your faith so you CAN trust and rest in Him and access His peace.

His is the peace that passes all understanding, it is the peace that is completely unlike the peace that the world gives. His peace is inexplicable, powerful, and is not affected by circumstances. The world’s peace is fickle and faltering, and can change as soon as the situation changes. But it will not just fall upon you – you must make an effort to seek His peace.

1. In what areas of your life are you lacking peace and need to consciously SEEK peace?
2. What specifically do you need to do in order to obtain His peace?

Deciding Not To Sin With My Mouth

Ps 17:3 I have determined that my mouth will not sin.

Out of the abundance of the heart is what the mouth will speak. That is why it is so important that we take every thought captive, and compare it to Christ, what He has said and what He has done.

Thinking before we speak is a simple concept but not so easy to implement. But we do have the ability to stop, close our mouths, and think about what we are about to say before we actually say it. This gives us time to listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading, to see if He is telling us to be quiet or to proceed.

We must make a conscious decision to determine that we will not sin with our mouths, we will not express a lack of faith in God, we will not express a lack of love to others or ourselves. This is particularly hard when others have spoken harshly to us. We have a tendency to repeat the hurtful things that others have said to us. But we can be free of it as we are healed of these hurtful things.

I challenge you to put a guard over your mouth and not speak anything that does not encourage and edifying others and especially yourself today. You need to build yourself up in the most holy faith, and faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Speak life and faith to yourself today, not negativity. Speak the truth of the situation but counter it with God’s eternal truth.

1) What does determining that your mouth will not sin mean to you and how can you practically accomplish that?

How to KEEP yourself in God’s love

Jude 1:20-21 says:
20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Do you know you have to KEEP yourselves in God’s love? It is an act on our part. His love remains true and present at all times, but we tend to wander away from His love and yearn for other people’s love instead – most of the time, love that another person isn’t capable of giving to us for a reason of their own (not because of who or how you are). But how do we do that? We build ourselves up in our faith and pray. That’s how we stay in God’s love.

To build yourself up means to continue building on the existing foundation. For all of us, that is the foundation of salvation, having been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into His kingdom of glorious light. We need to remember what our foundation is, the unshakable love of God, His endless mercies toward us, and His chain blasting power working in and through us.

Faith means to be persuaded to trust someone, and in our case, that means entrusting God with ourselves and everything (including anyone) that is important to us. To build your faith means to add to the reasons why you are persuaded to trust in Him, every day, adding to your gratitude list.

It also means taking chances, taking risks, by moving out into unknown areas WHERE HE HAS LED YOU. Notice, I don’t mean where you go wandering off by yourself. I mean when He asks you to move out where you haven’t been before, and you take the chance to trust that He knows what He is doing and are persuaded that He is capable of taking care of all that is important to you.

Then there is prayer – communicating with our Father in order to be filled with His Spirit so we actually CAN move forward in faith. The thing most people don’t understand is that God doesn’t want us to try to do this on our own. He asks us to do something and then offers us His divine empowerment (his “grace) to obey Him. We access it by asking for it – through prayer.

He truly has given us everything we need for life and godliness. We just need to access it and keep moving forward toward Him day by day, in HIS power.

1. How has your faith been lacking or falling apart? In what areas of your life, and why?
2. How can you build up your faith today? What is God asking you to do that you are putting off for lack of trust or fear of the unknown?

Have a very blessed day, Pretty Princesses!

What I Learned This Week: Prayer or Praise, Hard or Easy

I learned some great tools from some ladies in my groups this week, and I want to share them with you.

One woman shared how she handles all the situations in her life. They fall into 2 categories:

  1. Is this a prayer?
  2. Is this a praise?

Whatever is happening, she asks her self “Is this a problem?   Then this is a matter for prayer.”  Then she prays about it.  If the situation isn’t a problem, then it can be qualified as a praise, so she praises God for it.  In any case, she remains in constant communication with God no matter what happens in her life.  It reminds me of Phil 4:4-7.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Notice that if you will rejoice about your praises and pray about anything that brings anxiety, the result will be the peace of God. But what about when you are having trouble finding something to praise Him about or give thanksgiving for?  Verses 8 and 9 answer that question.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

You have to make a concerted effort to look for what is positive, which can be a real struggle if you have depression.  Of course, you can always praise God for who He is, because He never changes, regardless of the situation.  But sometimes you have to search for good things in your life, because the enemy will gladly cloud your thinking with everything you don’t have and tell you that you never will have them, so just give up.  He talks like Job’s wife by saying just curse God and die already.

That’s why making a gratitude list when you are depressed may be the one thing that keeps you going. So make the effort to look for the good, even the tiniest good, and thank Him for it.   God says it will bring you peace, but how?

Because seeing what is good builds your faith that God is good, and it helps you return to God in trust. Peace is a fruit of the spirit, and it cannot be obtained apart from the Holy Spirit of God within you.  But when you think on His goodness and draw near to Him, He draws near to you.  When you make your home in Him, He makes His home in you.

If you want the fruit of peace, you need to do everything in your power to stay close to Him.  Thinking about any and all of His blessings is how you keep clinging to Him.  Throughout your day, make everything either a prayer or a praise and start living more in the peace of God.

Lastly, another woman shared how she used to tell her children that

  1. if something is hard, it means that they are learning something. 
  2. If it is easy, they already know it.

How profound! If you are going through something hard right now, then it’s because God is trying to teach you something you don’t already know. Take the opportunity to learn the lesson and make the most of your situation. God will not waste a hurt, nor any situation – He will use it for your good by making you more like Christ through it. Rom 8:28-29 says:

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Utilize these two tools to help you keep your faith and stay in communication with God, no matter what happens.

  1. Turn your anxious situations out of your control into opportunities for accessing God’s power to change the situation through prayer.  Then leave it in His capable hands.
  2. Give God all the praise for every good thing you can find at all other times.
  3. And if you are going through something hard, ask Him what lesson He wants you to learn and find the good in that as well.  Watch as He transforms you more into the image of Christ through it.

Your sister in Christ,


Peace, Peace, Wonderful (Elusive) Peace

When all is said and done, what we want is peace. No more struggle, no more striving, no more feeling broken, no more hurting, no more doubting, no more anything – we have everything we need and can finally rest.  We want to relax and let go and not worry or fear. Peace is everything.
Luckily for Christians, Jesus can actually give us peace that is not dependent upon circumstances or our current status. He doesn’t give as the world does, which is transitory peace. He gives lasting peace in the midst of troubles and despite fear.
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Jesus knew that in this world there will always be trouble, disturbances of the peace, unfulfilled longings and desires, and sometimes unmet needs. But He put His Spirit in Christians, and peace is a fruit of the Spirit. It is always available for us to tap into, as long as we are abiding in the vine and connected to His life. So why don’t we access and live in this peace?
John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
1 John 5:4
for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
Jesus’s peace can be accessed only by faith.  Our simple faith that God is still in control, that God is good, and that His will still will be done in our lives gives us access into that peace.  It isn’t an intelligence or a mind thing, like you talk yourself down out of panic mode. No, faith gives us access to ALL the fruit of the Spirit, including peace.
Luke 7:50
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 8:48
Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
When we are robbed of our peace, and we seem lost in the world and cannot find our way, when the future seems dark and scary, and we are grasping all around to find something to hold on to that will anchor us, or at least make us feel less afraid for a while, all it takes to break that moment is one true, small statement of faith.
“You are good, God.”
“I believe in You, God.”
“I trust You, God.”
“I know You love me, God.”
It is not magic, and it is not mind control.  It is the supernatural effect of faith on a war-torn, embattled soul.  When we wander away in doubt, or simply forget to trust in Him, we cut ourselves off from the life-giving flow of God’s Spirit that enables the fruit of the Spirit to blossom in our life.
You don’t have to have all the answers, or find all the solutions to the endless array of problems in your life. You simply need to meet each episode with a small statement of faith, and CLING to it with all your might. Say it over and over again, until you believe it, and use the sword of God’s Word as an offensive as well as a defensive weapon against the enemy’s attack on your faith.
Peace can be had, but it cannot be stored – like manna, that went bad if you didn’t eat it that day (or on the Sabbath).  You only get peace in the present, not enough for the future. But His peace is enough for the moment to carry you through.

Deep Snow And Deep Faith

Ephesians 3:14-19

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,[a]15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

In the introduction to what has become a favorite devotional book (Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young), she talks about walking around outside, where the sunlight was hot enough to sunbathe, but the snow was so deep that the sun couldn’t melt it.  It immediately made me think about our faith, and when it is deep enough, the heat of the battle cannot dissolve that faith.  A thin layer of faith can be disturbed, but not a deep faith.

We need continually abiding faith so Christ’s Spirit can truly dwell (remain) in our hearts (the seat of our thoughts, will and emotions). We need to be “rooted and grounded” in His love, not only in the intelligent understanding of what God’s love for us and in us is, but in the experience of His love flowing through us toward others.  So many people think that God loves us just so we will feel loved, but we are missing the point that God loves everyone, and when He pours His love into us, it is not meant to be hoarded or welled up, but poured out lavishly on others. That’s hard for us when all we really are considered about 99% of the time is getting what we want.

I pray that you truly will experience how all encompassing God’s love can be if you let Him love you instead of pushing Him away in your hopelessness or despair.  I pray that you will experience His glory-filled strength which is perfected in us when we acknowledge that we are weak and we need Him to do all the things we cannot do for ourselves.  I pray that you will truly be filled with God’s Holy Spirit, in every nook and cranny, and that you will willingly submit to what the Spirit speaks to you and wants for your life, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

HOLD ON! Help is on the way!

There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them. Clare Boothe Luce

Matt 19:26 “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!

Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them. If hope holds such power for unthinking rodents, how much greater should is effect be on our lives. Today in the Word, May, 1990, p. 34.

SO HOLD ON! His right hand can reach down into ANY situation and give you reprieve, for a season or forever.

Psalm 44:3
It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.

Isaiah 50:2
Was my arm too short to deliver you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you? By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea, I turn rivers into a desert; their fish rot for lack of water and die of thirst.

HOLD ON! Have faith in God’s ability to change ANY situation by his own supernatural power (His grace), and to provide what you REALLY need and want in His own time and season. REFUSE TO DEMAND HOW GOD NEEDS TO FIX THE SITUATION! Give Him free reign to do above and beyond all that we think or imagine with our puny minds and limited experience.

Psalm 33:
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.

Compassionate, Gracious and Slow To Anger

Exo 34:6-7
6 Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed:
Yahweh — Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, 7 maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.

Isn’t it wonderful that our God is slow to anger, faithful to keep His promises, forgiving of our wrongdoing, rebellion and sin? He has compassion on us, even when we mess up. He is gracious, providing us with undeserved favor and empowerment. This is the message He speaks to the redeemed, those who have acknowledged their sin and have asked for forgiveness.

However, often we think of God’s attitude toward us as being harsh and punishing, remembering our sin to several generations, but that is not accurate. That is what Satan would like you to believe, but it is not true in our case. God forgives as soon as we ask, and chooses not to remember our sins anymore. He separates our sin from us as far as the east is from the west, because we are covered in the atoning shed blood of Jesus. The harshness is reserved for the unrepented sin of non-believers.

So when you feel condemnation, or think that God doesn’t like you, remember that it is a trick and a lie from Satan. Contrary to popular belief, we are NOT all children of God, and we are not all treated the same. You have to be born again through faith to be a child of God; everyone else is God’s CREATION, not His child.

As His child, He treats you with compassion and graciousness, loving-kindness and long-suffering. No matter how far you feel you have wandered away from God, He is ALWAYS close enough to hear you ask for forgiveness and receive you with open arms, just as the father of the Prodigal son did. He is always on your side, and always rooting for you to grow and mature in your walk with Him.

Plainly put, He loves you and wants to be close to you at all times. Don’t let Satan ever make you think otherwise.

Penny Haynes