CERTAINTY IN UNCERTAIN TIMES

Published on 24 May 2011 by in Encouragement

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CERTAINTY IN UNCERTAIN TIMES

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith … so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb 12:1-3, NIV).

Definitely our world is being shaken. Floods, fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, wars, peace talks, ‘end of the world judgment day’, and famines hmmm… sounds like a Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 description in the works.

So what of that unnerving quality and the state of being uncertain that creates doubt, indecision, hesitation, vagueness, ambiguity, insecurity, and improbability. DON’T BE ALARMED!

Of this we can be certain – uncertainty has a solution!

It’s called FAITH!

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Heb 11:1, NIV).

With what do you practice and demonstrate maneuvering through insecurity toward belief and confidence?

It’s called FOCUS!

Without a doubt, deliberate focus MUST be given to the infallible, without error, written Word of God. Yes! This means the 66 books of the Old and New testaments of the Bible. To apply ourselves to knowing and being familiar with it, is to discover the supreme and final authority in all matters on which it speaks, including times of uncertainty.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. Tell us,’ they said, when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus answered: Watch out that no one deceives you’” (Matt 24:3-4, NIV).

As we prayerfully, by that I mean conversationally apply ourselves to a dialogue with God to know Jesus and make Him known – we discover with CERTAINTY, the who, the what, the why, the where, the when and the how, to remain, believe, receive, persevere, and exercise God-given authority.

It’s called FACT, AKA DOCTRINE!

How familiar are you with what is written, ALREADY SPOKEN and RECORDED about God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, Heaven, Hell, Angels, Demons, Prayer, the Universal Church, Salvation, Sanctification, Healing, Bodily Resurrection, Eternal Life, Judgment, and the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus?

Check out our Statement of Faith here.

As our knowledge and relationship with Jesus – the LIVING WORD – grows, so does our confidence!

And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming (1 John 2:28, NIV).

Whatever today or tomorrow will bring we CAN live without doubt on the reliability and CERTAINTY of God’s WORD. No wind, fire, flood, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, evil spirit or person can shake or change these rock solid and unshifting promises!

Finally, brothers, 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 (Phil 4:8-9, NIV).

Heavenly Father, thank you that EVERYTHING is in your capable hands. We turn our eyes to keep our focus on YOU. When everything else around us crumbles, you will CERTAINLY remain the same! Thank you for that promise and HOPE.

©2011 Dr Karen Braun

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FOLLOW THE SCENT

Published on 18 May 2011 by in Encouragement

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FOLLOW THE SCENT

“For I have come to do the will of God who sent me, not to do what I want. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has give me, but that I should raise them to eternal life at the last day (John 6:38-39, NLT).

WHAT A MANDATE!

God the Father commissioned Jesus His Son to NOT LOSE you and me but to PICK US UP for eternal life.

This IS great news, especially in view of any unexpected stumble along the trail; crushing trial encountered along the way; or, surprise attack from the enemy of our soul, as we follow His lead.

Is your spiritual nose pointing to Jesus? Do you sniff and follow His lead with reckless abandon or have the layers of life beneath your feet, or unexpected twists and turns along the way – including encounters with evil bullies – caused you to doubt or even lose trace of His fragrance?

WHAT REASSURANCE & PROVISION!

“Jesus said to the people, I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you wont be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life’” (John 8:12, NLT).

The Lord does not need weapons to rescue his people. It is his battle, not ours (1 Sam 17:47, NLT).

“Jesus replied, I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in me will never thirst. Those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. Unless you believe that I am who I say I am, you will die in your sins’” (John 8:24b).

I assure you, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die (John 8:50, NLT)!

WHAT INVITATION!

If you’ve lost your way, go by way of the cross to be found again, in the light, refreshed by THE bread and water of life. As He lifts you and holds you close you will always experience Him there – it’s the only way to know how to follow. His fragrance will rub off and then others will want to follow that scent too.

His mandate is to keep you! Just wait… what’s ahead is greater then we can imagine!

Thank you Most High, kind, and merciful God that you have given Jesus charge of our keeping – for eternal life. Forgive us for chasing distractions; for running off to pursue other smells; even for giving more faith to fear especially when encountering evil. Purify our senses with your love and holiness so that we can run wholehearted in full confidence after you. Would you grant that others might desire your scent too.

“The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly” (Joshua 14:9, NIV).

©2011 Dr Karen Braun

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PAIN ON PURPOSE

Published on 11 May 2011 by in Encouragement

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PAIN ON PURPOSE

He [the LORD] called for a famine on the land of Canaan, cutting off its food supply. Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. There in prison, they bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfil his dreams, the LORD tested Josephs character” (Psalm 105:16-19, NLT).

Do you think betrayed, bruised, and bound Joseph dreamed, or even imagined a way out of his painful experiences? Do you think he expected them to ultimately test him, shape him, refine him, lead him, and directionally influence others as a result?

What framework guided Jo’s thinking to see him through every day of unfair captivity, while gingerly trying to sooth his bruised and restrained feet; or, to daily manage an unyielding burden of heavy metal restriction around his neck?

What about you? What dream has been shattered? What unexpected twists and turns have you bound like a prisoner? What extreme limitations squeeze the essence of your character out? Do you daily manage the choke hold or does it manage you?

“Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free; the ruler of the nation opened his prison door. Joseph was put in charge of all the kings household; he became ruler over all the kings household; he became ruler over all the kings possessions. He could instruct the kings aides as he pleased and teach the kings advisors” (Psalm 105:20-22, NLT).

Joseph daily choices where based on a knowledge of God and a developing relationship of trust. Remember God had given him dreams. I’m sure there were many tough conversations exchanged during those difficult days that grew into years. However, the daily dependence served to cultivate and refine the character we see in Joseph.

CHARACTER inspired the trust of a king; gave way to freedom; and opened the door to oversee and even instruct others. I wouldn’t be surprised if Joseph eventually taught a class for advisors called – Belief 101, which included a section on Hard Knocks from Another Perspective.

Your pain has purpose!

Has God given you a dream? What is your framework of belief when direction shifts to the unexpected? How is it managed daily? Do you engage in conversation with God about the details? Do you trust Him? Would you need to confess and repent of any lie you’ve embraced during the days of disillusionment – about God, yourself, others or your dream and replace with truth? As you focus on God’s trustworthiness – he will build and refine your character according to His dream for you. You never know whose freedom he may be sending you ahead for.

We declare you LORD to be the One true God, infinitely perfect in all your ways as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Your sovereign plans and purposes are high and mighty and truly above our understanding. You are worthy and deserving of our trust. Wherever you place us, whatever the circumstances, may our belief in you reflect as character to those around us! Thank you that you hear and answer prayer!

Jesus told them, This is what God wants you to do: Believe in the one He has sent’” (John 6:29, NLT).

I live by the power of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, those who partake of me will live because of me” (John 6:57, NLT).

©2011 Dr Karen Braun

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I DON’T KNOW THIS!

Published on 04 May 2011 by in Encouragement

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I DON’T KNOW THIS!

“Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Prov 9:9-10, NIV).

Have you heard it or even said it yourself – I don’t know this!?

I recall my son at age four being unfamiliar with a task. Uncertain, he adequately captured this innocent helplessness with these words, Mommy, I dont know this!” I was delighted to show him how.

I heard it again last week, “I don’t know this,” but this time from a grown woman all alone who was forced due to a fire, to evacuate her apartment building and find some place new to live. I was thankful I could serve her in some small measure to lighten her load.

Yesterday I said it, when faced with responding to a situation that was totally foreign to my knowledge. I was grateful God provided someone else to instruct me, and another to remind me that peace can rule in times of uncertainty. Both helped!

We are not meant to do life alone. We need God and we need each other. Whatever your age or situation, is it your instinct to expect and ask for help?

Prayer is that healthy dependence and way of making our need known.

Do you experience the certainty of the LORD who draws near, hears and answers your sincere prayer? Do you know Him as the One who is all knowing, longing to surprise you with peace. It’s okay to not know everything, and even better to admit it. He delights in helping.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me (Ps 18:16-19, NIV).

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Ps 32:8, NIV).

Thank you loving heavenly Father, for giving your Word, your Spirit and one another to help us do life. Forgive our prideful independence that robs of joy and peace. Please enable us to live childlike in our faith, to be okay with not having all the answers; and, to actually appreciate the journey of revealed knowledge. Thank you for the ongoing discovery we can share together.

© 2011 Dr Karen Braun

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Like A Shot Of Morphine

Published on 27 April 2011 by in Encouragement

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Like A Shot Of Morphine

“At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord” (Gen 4:26, NIV).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 (Phil 4:6-7, NIV).

2 ml of morphine brought the 150-beat-per-minute heart rate down to 50–70 within five minutes. “This will protect your heart from damage and decrease the pain,” the nurse told my mother-in-law, who was taken by ambulance Easter Sunday to the hospital. It was an atrial fibrillation and we all thought it was a heart attack.

Our hearts were beating faster as we called on others to pray, especially during the initial traumatizing moments. Prayers were ignited and united, precious people came by our sides, and quickly a peace was injected and released that literally calmed and protected hearts and nerves, easing the pain of uncertainty!

I couldn’t help but compare how prayer in this circumstance was like that shot of morphine. Yea God! There was no damage to Mom’s heart, and peace took over.

A desperate cry is a prayer that God hears and will answer. A prayer united in agreement is a powerful dosage. So what has your heart beating faster? Who do you call on to pray in your crisis and need? Have you considered how your prayers inject God’s peace for others? Who or what needs a shot?

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how, or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good (Rom 8:26-28, The Message).

You LORD, are PEACE! You are gloriously strong, holy in splendor and our Great God and King. You not only see our state of mind and heart, but you teach us how to cry out to you. You respond by making your presence known and work all things together for good as we trust you – no matter the circumstance.

Remind us how prayer is good for the heart and forgive us for our prayerlessness. In Jesus name we ask, Amen.

©2011 Dr Karen Braun

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Language With Meaning

Published on 19 April 2011 by in Encouragement

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Language With Meaning

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds” (Deut 11:18, NIV).

Do you understand and know how to respond to these words: піднімається, المسيح قام, Χριστός Ανέστη, המשיח קם לתחייה, मसीह बढ़ी है, キリストが復活さ,그리스도 께서 부활 ‘?

I fondly recall hearing my Dad Easter Sunday mornings joyfully greet us in his mother tongue with these cherished words – “Hristos a înviat!” We always replied with – Într-adevăr El este înviat!” Meaning…

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!

I find joy understanding the meaning and sharing that unique exchange.  However, I did have to be reminded each year, how to say the words because it was the only time I spoke Romanian. I regret not learning the language.

Do you hear your heavenly Father joyfully greet you every morning? How do you listen and respond? Is it only at Easter? Are your conversations with Him frequent enough to recognize the meaning of His words everyday, and do you welcome reminders?

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

 “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright; he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones” (Prov 2:1-8, NIV).

To repeat and pray God’s Word is a practical way to become familiar with God’s “mother tongue.” Soon you can be speaking His language with meaning and never regret it! Life depends upon knowing, believing and declaring His Word – JESUS!

“For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt 12:37, NIV).

How can we adequately say thank you Jesus, the WORD, for your willingness to die in our place! You have brought us life! Help us teach and repeat your words to others so they too can know the meaning living language of love.

©2011 Dr Karen Braun

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Listen Long, Listen Deep – Part 2

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matt 4:4 NIV).

How are you growing in your awareness; becoming more familiar with God’s communication style with you?

To listen long and deep is to feed on and digest the written Word of God. The more familiar with His spoken and recorded Word the more we learn to discern His Spirit’s whisper and gentle leadings. Yes, especially into our loud-mouthed circumstances.

The Lord said, Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah’ (1 Kings 19:11-13, NIV)?

In life’s chaos, how well do you hear His voice?! Are you honest about why you seek Him?

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:12-13, NIV).

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it, he will be blessed in what he does (James 1:25, NIV).

“God will be heard by those who genuinely seek Him, producing freedom.

Jesus says, My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me’” (John 10:27, NKJ)

Then He said, Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand’” (Mark 4:9, NLT).

I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts” (Psalm 119:45, NIV).

Now that’s a communication style that can be recognized and is worth pursuit!

Heavenly Father, we choose to be still and wait to hear you speak to us. We are in awe that you love to communicate with such style! Forgive us for boxing you or limiting how and what you may want to say and do in our lives. How grateful we are to receive your perfect Word. May your style become ours – long and deep.

©2011 Dr. Karen Braun

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Listen Deep, Listen Long – Part 1

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10, NIV).

Clear instructions! BE STILL – move past the clutter and distractions of life and take the time to KNOW that He is God – the results are seriously far-reaching! Is that your experience? Is there evidence?

The deeper and longer we listen to Him, the more we are changed from the inside-out, by His presence. The life-giving and life-sustaining words that dwell in us set a course to reveal the same!

THE INVITATION – (or is it a command?) to be still.

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place  (Psalm 51:6, NIV).

The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being (Proverbs 20:27, NIV).

THE CHALLENGE – Satan and our own thoughts wrestle against our ability to hear God’s voice.

Some people are like seed along the path, where the Word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the Word that was sown in them” (Mark 4:15, NIV).

Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matthew 16:23, NIV).

THE CHOICE – Our natural thoughts must be transformed by choosing to be still long enough to hear and obey God’s voice.

Dont copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know Gods will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2, NIV).

What measures will you take to be still longer?

Thank you passionate Father in heaven, that it is your desire to make yourself known to us. We confess our tendency to resist and stubbornly cling to foolish thoughts and habits that prevent us from being still. In so doing we permit Satan to interfere. Forgive us LORD, both the knowing and unknowing ways we have hindered you from making your words,  your voice,  known to us. Transform us we cry. Word of God speak – long and deep!

©2011 Dr. Karen Braun

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Value!!!

Published on 30 March 2011 by in Encouragement

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Value!!!

“I will call nobodies and make them somebodies; I will call the unloved and make them beloved. In the place where they yelled out, ‘Youre nobody! they are calling you God’s living children” (Romans 9:25-26, MSG).

Have you ever written anyone off? Or been disregarded  yourself? What assessment was the measure? Was it generous or scanty, warranted or unjustified?

Nobody values feeling like a zero. It’s crushing!

What makes one loved???

Hearing seems important and so does belonging. Colliding with the knowledge and receiving the experience of copious extravagant love is a transforming, life-changing solution, especially after knowing hollow irrelevance. The ongoing encounter with Father-love has multiple repercussions.

“Long before he laid down earths foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son” (Ephesians 1:3-6, NLT).

Do we hear our value enough? Do we believe it all the time? Let’s pray for a movement that embraces this kind of relational love at home, work, and play.

Precious Father in heaven, you are love! We humbly ask that you would remove any and every obstacle that prevents us from hearing and believing the value you declare in us. Enable us to receive and then give away this kind of pleasant embrace to all! Thank you for your profuse fondness!

©2011 Dr. Karen Braun

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An Extracted Response

Published on 23 March 2011 by in Encouragement

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An Extracted Response

“Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up and walk?’ I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins. Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, ‘Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed’” (Luke 5:22-26, NLT)!

Jesus knows how to respond to every thought of an accuser, the recipient, and the observer. To encounter Jesus is to extract a response. What is His? What is yours? Others?

“And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped to his feet, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe. And they praised God, saying over and over again, ‘We have seen amazing things today’” Luke 5:25, NLT).

“What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion. We will fulfill our vows to you, for you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you. Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all. What joy for those you choose to bring near, those who live in your holy courts. What festivities await us inside your holy Temple. You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth” (Psalm 65:1-5, NLT).

Thank you Jesus for giving us what we don’t deserve and not giving us what we do deserve. Help us in our response to others to reflect your kind of response. We choose to humbly follow you Lord Jesus. You alone are power and strength!

©2011 Dr. Karen Braun

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