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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

The Advantage

You’ve been through so much

and it hurts

 

But can you imagine

going through your pain

without Jesus?

 

Truly alone,

is no place to be

when you are hurting

 

But for the Christ-Follower,

alone is not an option

 

Your God never leaves you

 

And never is a long time

 

Your God never forsakes you

 

and never is a long time

 

Your God is there

and His Divine advantage is yours

in the struggle

 

Comfort,

spirit-deep comfort,

is yours

through Him

 

Just think…

you could be going through all of this

without Him

 

But you’re not

 

And that makes all the difference

in the world

 

– Susie Stewart

 

…the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

– Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

 

…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

– Isaiah 43:1-3 (NIV)

 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

– Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

 

You, too, are being completed in Him, the One who has dominion over all rule, all authority.

– Colossians 2:10 (VOICE)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

Gifts Multiplied

For those who have accepted

the beautiful gift of grace

 

our words should be gracious

 

For those who have accepted

the unmerited gift of mercy

 

our actions should be merciful

 

For those who have accepted

perfect love unconditional

 

our love should should come without strings

 

For those who have accepted

redemption from darkness impenetrable

 

our attitudes should reflect intense light

 

What precious gifts, these!

 

Who we are in Christ should be a gift

to those we come into contact with

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Whoever loves a pure heart and whoever speaks graciously has a king as his friend.

– Proverbs 22:11 (GW)

 

Pleasant words are like honey from a honeycomb— sweet to the spirit and healthy for the body.

-Proverbs 16:24 (GW)

 

Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!

– Luke 12:48 (MSG)

 

Each of you is now a new person. You are becoming more and more like your Creator, and you will understand Him better.

– Colossians 3:10 (CEV)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

Invisible

My beautiful

Invisible

God

 

Sometimes I long

to see Your face

 

and Your invisibility

appears as a barrier

 

between You and me

 

But it doesn’t have to be

that way

 

There really is

no barrier

 

Only Jesus,

as the Way

 

Invisible God

You see me

 

right through to my core

 

And,

Invisible God,

you see the invisible people

among us

 

None escape Your sight

 

And while I still long

to see You,

Jesus

 

It doesn’t need to be a barrier

 

For You have made a Way

 

Communication with You

Creation Divine and serene

Your Word powerful and life-changing

Relationships beautiful

Love overwhelming

 

Life abundant

 

They show me You,

my invisible God   ❤

 

– Susie Stewart

 

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, He organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

– Colossians 1:15-18 (MSG)

 

We all live off His generous bounty,
gift after gift after gift.
We got the basics from Moses,
and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
This endless knowing and understanding—
all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
No one has ever seen God,
not so much as a glimpse.
This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
who exists at the very heart of the Father,
has made Him plain as day.

– John 1:16-18 (MSG)

 

But you may not look directly at My face, for no one may see Me and live.

– Exodus 33:20 (NLT)

 

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

– 1 Timothy 1:17 (NIV)

 

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.

– 1 John 4:12 (NLT)

 

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

– Romans 1:20 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

Light in Light

In Light

we see Light

 

In darkness

all is dark

 

So, Jesus, open the eyes of the blind!

Awaken them to Light!

 

For the dark

is a scary place to be

 

It’s hopeless…

 

But those who dwell in Light

recognize Your Light

 

and want it

for those in absence of it

 

Those who dwell in blackness

can’t see it

 

Loose them, Lord!

Unbind them!

 

Let us be Your Light

to our fellow-created

 

May Your Light

Pierce the darkness

 

that threatens to overtake

those You love

 

– Susie Stewart

 

For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.

– Psalm 36:9 (NIV)

 

How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings, To eat our fill at the banquet You spread as You fill our tankards with Eden spring water. You’re a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light.

– Psalm 36:7-9 (MSG)

 

In Your house, they eat and are full at Your table.
They drink from the river of Your overflowing kindness.
You have the fountain of life that quenches our thirst.
Your light has opened our eyes and awakened our souls.

– Psalm 36:8,9 (VOICE)

 

But we had to celebrate and be happy, because your brother was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found.

– Luke 15:32 (GNT)

 

Light shows up everything, just as the Scriptures say,

“Wake up from your sleep
and rise from death.
Then Christ will shine on you.”

– Ephesians 5:14 CEV)

 

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins.

– Colossians 2:13 (NLT)

 

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, He embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on His own, with no help from us! Then He picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

– Ephesians 2:1-6 (MSG)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

Peace Sought

You who serve

the Prince of Peace

 

how are You

PURSUING

peace?

 

Do you run toward it

or

do you choose the opposite?

 

The Lord

would have you

SEEK peace

 

Which means

you diligently look for it

 

you hunger for it

 

and your first step in peace-seeking

is to quiet yourself

 

before the Prince

before the King

 

and the next

is to quiet yourself

 

before those

you don’t want to quiet yourself before

 

 

And the third thing to do

is to be alert and aware

 

of triggers in you

of the enemy’s tactics

of the ways people choose division

 

and choose peace

 

Pursue it

Seek it

Live it

 

Let it take root

in your heart

 

– Susie Stewart

 

…seek peace and pursue it.

– Psalm 34:14 (NIV)

 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

– Romans 12:18 (NIV)

 

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

– Romans 12:17-19 (MSG)

 

Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].

– Colossians 3:15 (AMP)

 

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

– Hebrews 12:14 (NIV)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Salvation Strength

Do you know

the strength of your salvation?

 

Do you know the power at work

in and through you?

 

You were saved for so much more

than you probably even realize

 

Jesus’ death and resurrection

broke the power of death over you

 

And you will live gloriously forever

because of the gift of your salvation

 

Your salvation brings you strong victory over sin

and you are no longer chained to it!

 

You have power in Christ

to overcome sin

to stomp on it

 

and before Christ

you were defenseless against it

 

Your salvation protects you

from the enemy who wants to take you down

 

He has no authority over you

so resist him

 

Your salvation brings you life-giving freedom

from your prison cell

 

and you have the power

to walk in that freedom

 

Your salvation brings you hope

in an uncertain world

and uncertain times

 

and this is a strong and enduring hope

 

Your salvation brings you peace

making you able to stand solid in chaos

 

Your salvation is strength

and defense

and endures forever

 

There is no need

to walk in defeat

 

– Susie Stewart

 

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault.

But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News….

– Colossians 1:21-23 (NLT)

 

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

– Romans 8:38, 39 (MSG)

 

“It’s urgent that you listen carefully to this: Anyone here who believes what I am saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, who has in fact put Me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting life and is no longer condemned to be an outsider. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living.

– John 5:24 (MSG)

 

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

– Romans 8:1, 2 (MSG)

 

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

– 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NLT)

 

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

– John 8:36 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Haven

I desire, Lord,
for our home
to be a haven

For Your sweet love
humor
peace
grace
joy
and forgiveness
to fill its walls

I stand in defiance
with You, Lord,
against enemies
who would seek to destroy
to corrupt
to sever

And I know this is Your desire, God,
for it is Your Spirit
that bonds
the lives within these walls
together

Imperfect humans
clinging to our perfect King

serving
one another
in love

Our home haven
is also
a battleground
and worth fighting for
these precious ones
and
these sacred loves

on my knees

– Susie Stewart

 

And the Spirit makes it possible to submit humbly to one another out of respect for the Anointed.
– Ephesians 5:21 (VOICE)

 

If anyone fails to provide for his relatives, and especially for those of his own family, he has disowned the faith [by failing to accompany it with fruits] and is worse than an unbeliever [who performs his obligation in these matters].
– 1 Timothy 5:8 (AMP)

 

“And I will be for you as a father, and you will be for Me as sons and daughters,” Says the Lord Almighty!
– 2 Corinthians 16:8 (VOICE)

 

Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 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.

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.
– Colossians 3:12-16 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Gratitude Attitude

 

This morning when I woke up

I had a choice

 

Either to be grateful

or not

 

And sadly, I chose not

 

You see, I was bothered

by this

and that

 

And this person

and that person

 

And this hurt

and that was sore

 

and

and

and

 

Until I got to the point

where I realized

 

that the joy was just gone

out of my day

 

My prideful

ungrateful

entitled

attitude

 

was not at all

what I wanted

or what God wanted

 

And one would think

that I was really

stuck

 

right there in myself

 

But with God

you never have to be stuck

 

What a beautiful thing

 

And I set my mind

on things to be grateful for

 

I thanked God

for this

and for that

 

and more

 

And my self-pity

dissipated

 

God’s Spirit

could communicate with me

 

For I was no longer road-blocking

Spirit whispers

 

with a hand up

shutting out joy

 

A heart of gratitude

and a heart of hope

 

is always stronger

than the heart

that tries to protect itself

 

An open heart of joy

is strengthened by Almighty God

 

to weather this world

and to stand in contentment

 

Gratitude

effects

fortitude

effects

courage

effects

hope

 

– 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)

 

The secret of contentment is the realization that life is a gift, not a right.

– Author Unknown

 

He might live a thousand years twice over but still not find contentment….

– Ecclesiastes 6:6 (NLT)

 

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

– Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart