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In my last blog I asked you what you want more of. I told you I want more of Jesus and less of me. And I promised to meditate on what it means to want more of Him. As I contemplated getting to that place where we desire Him more than anything else, this is what I came up with:

1. Start Praising Him:
Do you realize God’s will is for us to be thankful in all things?
First Thessalonians 5:18 says: “Give thanks in all things for this is God’s Will for you in Christ Jesus.”

For me to be thankful in the bad times, as well as the good, means I have to constantly acknowledge that God is good, regardless of my circumstances. Wow! That does something to my devotional life with Christ. As I recount how good, all-knowing, and all-loving He is, it makes me love Him more. As we thank God for what He’s done and praise Him for who He is, we can’t help but love Him.

Constantly being aware that He has given us our very breath and health makes us remember He is Almighty God and we are not. You might be thinking He hasn’t given you much lately. But what do you really have that hasn’t been given to you? As we become grateful for everything we have it will move our hearts. And our hearts will be filled with a love for Him.

Can you start praising Him right now regardless of your circumstances?

2. Say Breath Prayers:
We often have to tell ourselves what to think…and condition ourselves to want the right things. I’ve found that as I start saying small “breath prayers” and literally breathing certain requests, they become a part of me. Try uttering breath prayers throughout the day, as if you are training and conditioning your heart how to feel.
These are my breath prayers of late:
* Give me a heart for You
* I want more of You, Jesus
* Lord, be my everything
* Jesus, I’m completely Yours
* I love You, Lord
* Capture my heart, Lord Jesus

Can you start verbalizing your heart’s desire so it becomes a part of you?

3. Surrender to Him What You Love the Most: There’s a reason Jesus said “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). Jesus knew that whatever we put first in our hearts will eventually become our god. And He demands and deserves to be first place. Yet how easy it is to love other, more tangible things more than Him.

A longtime friend in ministry who lost his Dad on Thanksgiving day sent me this quote from Randy Alcorn:

“Tragically, many Christians store up most of their treasures on Earth. So every day that moves them closer to death moves them farther from their treasures. They end up backing into eternity, heading away from their treasures…Christ calls us to turn it around — to store up our treasures in Heaven. That way, every day we get closer to our deaths, we move toward our treasures.”

Oh how I want my greatest treasure to be Jesus…so I look forward to this life coming to a close, rather than dreading it.

Can you focus on just one of these steps today and see how it increases your love for God? It’s one small way of having more of Jesus and less of you.

Growth quote 2Do you ever worry that you aren’t growing enough, spiritually? And should it be something you worry about?

One of my readers recently said:

“I often worry about my spiritual growth. Sometimes I feel like I am not growing.”

I, too, used to worry about my spiritual growth:

  • Am I where I should be, spiritually, considering how long I’ve known God?
  • Is there something more I should be doing — or something more I should be studying — so I can grow in an area where I still need to become more like Christ?
  • Am I being obedient enough?

And yet, I realize now that I’ve been asking the wrong questions.

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JoyI recently posted a devotional on the Proverbs 31 Ministries site and received about 900 comments from women, most of them with heartbreaking stories.

Just when I think I’ve heard it all, another woman will break my heart with what she has gone through in her marriage, as a parent, or as a woman who has experienced physical or emotional pain. Hurt will never go out of style. And I remember thinking, as I read through those stories, that as long as I’m writing for hurting hearts, there will, sadly, always be an audience for my books.

It’s sad, but it’s a reality of the broken world we live in.

And yet…I’m thinking you could use a little joy about now. Well, I’ve got good news for you: Experiencing joy is easier than you think.

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prayer-on-my-knees4I’m a firm believer that God knows exactly what He’s doing when He says “no” to our prayers, when He seems to wait before answering our prayers, or when it seems He isn’t listening at all.

Psalm 145:8-9 says: The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”

That tells me that His graciousness, compassion, and love are at work — even in unanswered prayer. So here are seven reasons to thank God even when you’re not getting an answer – yet:

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When life gets messy, it’s easy to get stressed. Or angry. Or bitter.

But most of the time we’re in the middle of a mess, God wants to sharpen us, mold us, and transform us. So we might as well respond the way He desires so we can get out of the mess, don’t you think?

As I was writing my newest book, When God Sees Your Tears, I realized there’s lots of reasons to trust God in the middle of the mess. Stress kills, so save your health, pass the test, and please God by trusting Him in the middle of the mess.

Here are 6 reasons to trust, not stress, when you’re in the middle of the mess:

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womanlisteningHave you ever found yourself wondering Why doesn’t God speak to me?

Many of us talk to the Lord and just want to hear Him respond now and then. But sometimes we aren’t sure what to listen for.

In the four decades since I’ve given my life to Christ, I have never experienced an encounter with God in which there was an audible voice, a thundering from heaven, a burning bush, or a rushing wind. It was usually a still small voice that gave me an inner peace, a loving rebuke that changed my ways, the written Word of God that pierced my  heart, or a sense of calling and direction that wouldn’t let me be until I followed.

God speaks in various ways by the Holy Spirit to those in relationship with Him. And in my experience, I would have to say that He has spoken most clearly when I’ve been the most obedient, the most in need of comfort, and for the most part, taking the time to really listen.

Do you long to hear God speaking to you on a regular basis? Then I recommend these three steps:

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to do listDo you have a plan for growing spiritually in the next 12 months?

I had to start making a plan every January to ensure I didn’t end the year in the same place, spiritually, as I was when the year started. Year by year, we might not notice a lack of spiritual growth in our lives. But you’d be surprised how quickly ten years can pass without having memorized one more verse of scripture, without confronting a habitual sin in your life, without having shared the gospel with an unbeliever, without having experienced a point in your walk with God that lit a fire under you and caused you to live differently.

Instead of making “new year’s resolutions” each year, I sit down with God and set some spiritual goals for the next year to ensure that during the time I am aging another year, physically,  I will also be aging another year, spiritually. I want to make sure, also, that there is fruit developing from my life instead of being a sponge that continues to soak it all in, but gives little out.

Here are some examples of a few of the spiritual goals that I’ve set through the years, many of which repeatedly stay on my list from year to year. Try a couple of these, and maybe even come up with some of your own, so that you are one year closer to Christ — and more effective for His kingdom — by the time next January rolls around:

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Do you ever feel that you’re not doing enough to please God?

I recently asked a group of women how their spiritual life was going. They each frowned and began to recount to me all that they had not been doing. They were each concerned about  not praying long enough, not reading the Bible consistently enough, and not doing enough in their overall efforts to please God.  I’m sure they all thought they were getting a “C” from God for simply being average…if not an “F” for failing. read more

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