For Them

They cannot speak for themselves,

and so you speak

 

They cannot do for themselves,

and so you do for them

 

They cannot pay,

you give

 

They cannot fight,

you march

 

They are destitute

victims

marginalized

poor

young

mute

alone

 

and passed by

 

But you

with your indwelling Hope

 

YOU are the hands

and the feet

and the voice

and the justice

 

for each one

 

knowing that YOU

were the one in need

 

when your Savior

left heaven to save you

 

He spoke for you

He fought for you

He did what you could not do

when he died to save you

 

And He paid

when you could not pay….

 

His heart for those in desperate need

replaced your heart of stone

 

and so you march

and you speak

and you pay

and you do

 

for the least

and the mute crying

 

– Susie Stewart

 

**Inspired by my daughter’s prayer march against human trafficking today.  We each need to take a look at ourselves and ask what we are doing for someone who cannot do or speak for themselves.  

 

 

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.

– Proverbs 31:8 (NLT)

 

Learn to do good;  commit yourselves to seeking justice.  Make right for the world’s most vulnerable – the oppressed, the orphaned, the widow.  

– Isaiah 1:17 (VOICE)

 

Stand up of the poor and the orphan;  advocate for the rights of the afflicted and those in need.

– Psalm 82:3 (VOICE)

 

Real, true religion from God the Father’s perspective is about caring for the orphans and widows who suffer needlessly and resisting the evil influence of the world.

– James1:27 (VOICE)

 

Jesus said – The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for He has anointed Me to bring Good News to the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.

– Luke 4:18, 19 (NLT)

 

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you.  I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

– Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)

 

Then these righteous ones will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You?  Or thirsty and give You something to drink?  Or a stranger and who You hospitality?  Or naked and give You clothing?  When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?”

And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sister, you were doing it to Me!”  

– Matthew 25:37-40 (NLT)

Photo by John Butler

Tough & Tender

The heart

 

is a curious

and beautiful

and complex

thing

 

With our hearts we feel the depths

and the heights

 

and all that is between

 

It is the core,

and it is to be guarded

 

But how do we guard it

without becoming calloused?

 

And how do we sense

without becoming overly-sensitive?

 

How is it that we can be strong of heart,

and at the same time

tender-hearted?

 

All in christ

always

 

All in Christ

 

 

And it all begins

 

with a heart

surrendered

to Jesus

 

Only He can bring strength

and tenderness

to co-exist within us

 

Allowing His Words to penetrate

any hardness of heart

 

we let Him soften

the callouses

 

As we become tender to His Spirit

 

our softness and sensitivity toward people

will grow deep

and beautiful

and sincere

 

Forgiveness and grace

will flow

and heal

and bless

 

Then there is His strength

welling up

 

We allow His Words

and His presence

to strengthen

our weakness

 

We believe HIM

and take our thoughts captive to His Spirit

 

We are strong in Him!

We KNOW that He is God!

 

Strength of heart develops

when our focus is on HIS strength

in us

 

not our own

 

And we let His peace

RULE in our hearts

 

Let it rule

 

Which means surrender to His will

and trusting Him

with everything

 

Strength

and tenderness

can live in the same heart

 

through Christ,

the strongest

and most tender

 

Loving with quiet goodness,

fighting for us

with all passion

and strength

 

 

~ Susie Stewart

 

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

– Colossians 3:15 (NLT)

 

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

– Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)

 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

– Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

 

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

– Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

 

So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and He’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

– James 4:7-9 (MSG)

 

They won’t be afraid of bad news; their hearts are steady because they trust the Lord.

– Psalm 112:7 (NCV)

 

I have pursued You with my whole heart; do not let me stray from Your commands.

– Psalm 119:10 (VOICE)

 

Don’t put on a show just because they are looking (as if you were a people pleaser); but as a slave of the Anointed, do the will of God from your heart.

– Ephesians 6:6 (VOICE)

 

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

– Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

 

Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

– Matthew 11:29 (NIV)

 

I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.

– Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

 

A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones.

– Proverbs 14:30 (AMPC)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

Spirit Walk

Holy Spirit

guide my mind and heart

this day

 

May I not heed

pop culture’s grasp

emotion’s wave

accolade’s hold

comfort’s woo

distraction’s tug

 

 

the wisdom of this world

or the lies of the enemy

 

May I follow You

wherever that leads me

 

confident in my trustworthy God

who sees the big picture

from eternity’s standpoint

 

Holy Spirit

lead on

into my unknown day

 

known by You

alone

 

– Susie Stewart

 

So now, where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the skilled debater, the best of your time? Step up, if you dare. Hasn’t God made fools out of those who count on the wisdom of this rebellious, broken world?

– 1 Corinthians 1:20 (VOICE)

 

When Jesus returned from the Jordan River, He was full of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit led Him away from the cities and towns and out into the desert.

– Luke 4:1 (VOICE)

 

If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children.

– Romans 8:14 (VOICE)

 

Now since we have chosen to walk with the Spirit, let’s keep each step in perfect sync with God’s Spirit.

– Galatians 5:25 (VOICE)

 

But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

– Mark 13:11 (VOICE)

 

The Spirit of truth will come and guide you in all truth. He will not speak His own words to you; He will speak what He hears, revealing to you the things to come and bringing glory to Me. The Spirit has unlimited access to Me, to all that I possess and know, just as everything the Father has is Mine. That is the reason I am confident He will care for My own and reveal the path to you.

– John 16:13 (VOICE)

 

But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.

– Acts 20:22-24 (MSG)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

HIM

The way you treat people –

It’s all about HIM

 

The wisdom you instill in your children –

It’s all about HIM

 

The honest effort you put into your job –

It’s all about HIM

 

The person you are with your spouse –

It’s all about HIM

 

The faithfulness you display in friendship –

It’s all about HIM

 

EVERYTHING –

all that you are

and all that matters in this life

 

must stem from your relationship

with Jesus

 

the most vital relationship you have

 

You are

and you do

and you exist

because of God

 

Any other effort

will fall short

 

It

has

got

to be

 

all about HIM

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to His will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making Him proud of you as you work hard in His orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that He has for us.

God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son He loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.

– Colossians 1:9-14 (MSG)

 

The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for Him, as if He couldn’t take care of Himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make Him. Starting from scratch, He made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find Him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; He’s near. We live and move in Him, can’t get away from Him! One of your poets said it well: “We’re the God-created.” Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?

– Acts 17:26-29 (MSG)

 

I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead…

– Philippians 3:10 (NLT)

 

I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

– Matthew 28:20 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

 

 

 

His

His was the kiss on your cheek

kind and sweet

 

His was the pat on your back

encouraging

 

His was the embrace

warm and sincere

 

His was were the eyes

truly seeing

 

His was the laughter

enjoying your joy

 

His were the tears of empathy

when you suffered

 

His is the heart

who understands you

 

His was the life, pure and beautiful

ungrudgingly given for you

 

– Susie Stewart

 

 

We love because He first loved us.

– 1 John 4:19 (NIV)

 

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in You.

– Psalm 33:22 (NIV)

 

But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
    slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

– Psalm 86:15 (NIV)

 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us…

– 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

 

 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

– John 11:33 (NIV)

 

Photo by Randy Malsam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Investor

 

If you were to have the title

of Life Investor

 

hired by God

in the here and now

 

What would He observe

about your investment practices

and priorities?

 

Would He say

that He observes you investing your life

in the valuable?

 

Or would He say

that He observes you investing your life

in that which doesn’t last?

 

Is all your energy spent on yourself

and getting ahead

in worldly success

and mindless pursuits?

 

Or is it invested in people

in your relationship with your Creator

in glorifying Him

and in the deeper things of life?

 

Is your life invested in bigger, better, and prestigious

or

in the smallest, poor and broken?

 

Do you know which one God prioritizes?

 

He is the authority

on what matters

 

We are given only one life

to invest in the eternal

and in the things He values

 

May we invest wisely

for we never know

when God will retire our position

 

for the afterlife

 

– Susie Stewart

 

The kingdom of heaven is like a man going on a trip. He called his servants and entrusted some money to them.  He gave one man ten thousand dollars, another four thousand dollars, and another two thousand dollars. Each was given money based on his ability. Then the man went on his trip.

The one who received ten thousand dollars invested the money at once and doubled his money. The one who had four thousand dollars did the same and also doubled his money. But the one who received two thousand dollars went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.

After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The one who received ten thousand dollars brought the additional ten thousand. He said, “Sir, you gave me ten thousand dollars. I’ve doubled the amount.”

His master replied, “Good job! You’re a good and faithful servant! You proved that you could be trusted with a small amount. I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master’s happiness.”

The one who received four thousand dollars came and said, “Sir, you gave me four thousand dollars. I’ve doubled the amount.”

His master replied, “Good job! You’re a good and faithful servant! You proved that you could be trusted with a small amount. I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master’s happiness.”

Then the one who received two thousand dollars came and said, “Sir, I knew that you are a hard person to please. You harvest where you haven’t planted and gather where you haven’t scattered any seeds. I was afraid. So I hid your two thousand dollars in the ground. Here’s your money!”

His master responded, “You evil and lazy servant! If you knew that I harvest where I haven’t planted and gather where I haven’t scattered, then you should have invested my money with the bankers. When I returned, I would have received my money back with interest. Take the two thousand dollars away from him! Give it to the one who has the ten thousand! To all who have, more will be given, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken away from those who don’t have much.

– Matthew 25:14-30 (GW)

 

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

– Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT)

 

This is my last gift to you, this example of a way of life: a life of hard work, a life of helping the weak, a life that echoes every day those words of Jesus our King, who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

– Acts 20:35 (VOICE)

 

…if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
    He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.

– Isaiah 58:10,11 (NIV)

 

Photo By Susie Stewart

 

 

 

 

 

To Be With You

Jesus,

You have been loved by your Father

 

Forever

 

And how thankful we are

that You want to share that love

 

Welcoming us in,

the adopted

 

into the intimacy

already there

 

How blessed

are the Children of God

 

And You not only welcome us

but You long for us

 

You want this great big family

of loved ones

 

How encircling is Your heart,

my Lord

 

I can’t wait to be with You

where You are

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Father, I long for the time when those You have given Me can join Me in My place so they may witness My glory, which comes from You. You have loved Me before the foundations of the cosmos were laid.

– John 17:24 (VOICE)

 

But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God

– John 1:12 (VOICE)

 

And now, children, stay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ. Then we’ll be ready for Him when He appears, ready to receive Him with open arms, with no cause for red-faced guilt or lame excuses when He arrives.

– 1 John 2:28 (MSG)

 

How blessed is God! And what a blessing He is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in Him. Long before He laid down earth’s 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 (MSG)

 

Father, I want those you gave Me
To be with Me, right where I am,
So they can see My glory, the splendor you gave Me,
Having loved Me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known You,
But I have known You, and these disciples know
That You sent me on this mission.
I have made Your very being known to them—
Who You are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that Your love for Me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them.

– John 17:24-26 (MSG)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

I have a Complaint About Complaining

Complaining

is worthless

 

Words reeking of self

and ungratefulness

 

Of no benefit

to those who hear

 

Complaints

come out

and hang in the air stagnant

 

Perspective

Gratitude

Selflessness

Patience

Graciousness

 

– they are needed when tempted

by dissatisfaction

 

Complaining

is an outward expression

of a heart in need of joy

 

And joy is found in Jesus,

the One who should have had the most

to complain about

 

but didn’t

 

– Susie Stewart

 

 

Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them.

– Ephesians 4:29 (VOICE)

 

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.

– Philippians 2:14-16 (NLT)

 

Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

– Philippians 2:14-16 (MSG)

 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

– James 1:2-4 (NIV)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

Story

What’s your story

of His grace

in your life?

 

Because

I’d love to hear it

 

What’s your story

of His love?

 

What’s your story

of His mercy toward you?

 

What’s your story

of His hope?

 

I would love to hear it all

 

And I want to encourage you,

my brother,

my sister,

 

to share that story

 

For you are called

to speak as a WITNESS

for your Savior

 

Your TESTIMONY

is what people need to hear

 

You are not asked

to bear witness

to complicated theological facts

 

but to the difference

our great

and gracious God

has made in your life

 

And people are dying to hear it….

 

So let it flow

 

just as you would speak with joy

about the people you love

 

For there has been no greater LOVE

than the story of the One

who laid down His life

for you

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Here’s the knowledge you need: you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be My witnesses, first here in Jerusalem, then beyond to Judea and Samaria, and finally to the farthest places on earth.

– Acts 1:8 (VOICE)

 

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim Your power.
I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor
and your wonderful miracles.
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim Your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
they will sing with joy about Your righteousness.

– Psalm 145:407 (NLT)

 

I will tell everyone about Your righteousness.
All day long I will proclaim Your saving power,
though I am not skilled with words.

– Psalm 71:15 (NLT)

 

Photo by Amy O’Neil

 

A River Flows Through It

An outward focus

is as a river flowing

 

unobstructed

moving

living

 

from a heart

listening to the Spirit

 

An inward focus

is as a black hole

 

dark

still

backward

 

from a heart imploding on itself

 

And it is obvious

when you speak to someone

 

which one they are

and where their focus is

 

Do people come away from talking to you

feeling heard?

Valued?

Seen?

 

Or do they come away from talking to you

knowing a whole lot

about you

with a little more of you

on the side?

 

Our Jesus

Savior

King

God

 

focused outward

 

Time with His Father prioritized,

He went to the masses

 

and He Healed them

with His hands and His words

 

Selflessness

Humility

and attentiveness

come from the character of God

 

And we become more of this

when we allow Him to do His inward work

 

 

looking to Him

and focusing outward

 

– Susie Stewart

 

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of Himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of Himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, He set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, He stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted Him high and honored Him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that He is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

– Philippians 1:1-11 (MSG)

 

On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took His stand. He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in Me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)

– John 7:37-39 (MSG)

 

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

– Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

 

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.

— 1 Peter 3:8 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart